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E-dividend: Experts Task SEC On Enlightenment

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Financial experts on Thursday tasked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on persistent enlightenment initiatives to boost e-dividend registration presently put at 2.5 million.

The financial experts in interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, said the apathy of investors towards the exercise was becoming worrisome.

NAN reports that e-dividend refers to online payment of dividends to investors rather than through post, and allows all accrued dividends to be credited to an investor’s bank account directly.

The aim is to stem the rising problem of unclaimed dividends estimated to be N90 billion.

Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, Professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun said the commission must ensure persistent enlightenment through advertisement in audio and virtual media for investors to embrace the initiative.

Tella attributed the low enrollment of e-dividend to lack of financial literacy and the unimpressive dividends declared by some companies.

“It is because most shareholders are not happy with the amount they receive as dividends.

“So, they consider it a waste of time going to banks or stock broking firms to fill and submit e-dividend forms,” Tella said.

According to him, many shareholders suffer from low financial literacy and do not understand the need to de-materialise their certificates, or be integrated into the e-divided platform.
Mr Sola Oni, Stockbroker and CEO, Sofunix Investment and Communications, said investors’ apathy towards e-dividend was caused by the dwindling confidence of investors in the capital market following the global capital market crash of 2008.

Oni said many investors were yet to appreciate that dividend was a function of quantity of shares in a company.
“We should not also forget that some shareholders bought shares in a manner that they cannot easily reconcile due to use of multiple names, signature issues and others.
“But SEC has created a window of opportunities to take care of many complaints and challenges being faced by shareholders,” Oni said.

He urged SEC to leverage on the platform of shareholders associations to deepen e-dividend registration campaign.

NAN reports that the free e-dividend registration window by SEC ended on March 31 with about 2.5 million investors taking advantage of the opportunity.

SEC spent over N315 million to underwrite the cost of the free exercise at N150 per each successful enrollment.

Consequently, whilst the e-dividend registration is still open to every interested investor, investors will be charged N150 for each successful deal. (NAN)

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