By Rukayat Moisemhe
Lagos, April 1, 2021 The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN) has called for stakeholder education on debt funding and utilisation of unclaimed dividends.
Mrs Taiwo Olusesi, Registrar, ICSAN, gave the advice in a communique to newsmen on Thursday in Lagos.
Olusesi urged the relevant government bodies to engage the investing public more regularly and obtain their feedback on improving the debt funding system and the utilisation of the Unclaimed Fund Trust Fund (UFTF).
Olusesi said the advice became pertinent to address the problems of distrust between investors, depositors and the government.
According to her, maintaining investors’ confidence and allaying their doubts and fears is very paramount.
“Hence, the relevant government bodies should engage the investing public more regularly and obtain their feedback on improving the debt funding system and the utilisation of the Unclaimed Fund Trust Fund (UFTF),” she said.
Olusesi listed the causes of unclaimed dividends to include improper completion of application forms, omission, inaccessible or wrong addresses, and irregular signature.
Others, she said, were failure to communicate changes of address, death of shareholder, unreported bank account closure, incomplete and illegible records, incorrect details of next of kin, poor attitude of shareholder and strategic negligence.
Olusesi tasked government on transparency, proper disclosure, and due process in the management and administration of the funds to minimise, if not eliminate, the distrust which breeds suspicion and fear on the part of the people.
She also advised banks and listed companies to entrench the culture of Know Your Customers with proper documentation of their identities and personal details.
“Government, through its regulatory agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and others should exploit the option of linking the Biometric
Verification Number and the National Identity Number with the shareholders and depositors’ accounts.
“All stakeholders involved in the management of the Unclaimed Fund Trust Fund must strive to discharge the responsibilities professionally, ethically, and with integrity.
“Furthermore, they must provide feedback to the government through the various channels on the outcomes and practical challenges of implementing the fund.
“There must be proper channels that are well set out and made known to the public to claim dividends once in the government coffers, and notice must be given to concerned investors on recouping their investments.
“Shareholders should be educated of the various mechanisms, such as
Security Exchange Commision’s e-dividend portal to verify the existence of any unclaimed dividends and how the same can be recovered before such funds are due to be transferred to the UFTF.
“There is also the need for the proper education of many stakeholders on the procedure for the recovery of unclaimed assets under the Finance Act 2020,” she said.
Olusesi also said a detailed implementation plan for the utilisation of the funds must be made public and key performance indicators must be published, to enable the public to assess the performance of the fund from time to time.
“Those implementing the UFTF should develop a robust database that is
readily accessible by the public and provide periodic reports on the
utilisation of the UFTF funds to increase investors’ confidence,” she said.