A civil society and good governance advocacy group, Make a Difference Initiative (MADI), has traced the crises currently rocking Seplat Energy PLC to the alleged refusal of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the company, Mr. Basil Omiyi, to honour the provisions of the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance on the tenure of Directors and step down.
MADI also asked the Federal Government to thoroughly investigate claims made by aggrieved Nigerian employees of Seplat that Roger Brown and some interests in the company were plotting to acquire the company through the Capital Market, using some South African fronts.
These were contained in a press statement issued by the Executive Director of MADI, Lemmy Ughegbe in Abuja, wherein he raised concerns about alleged efforts by Seplat leadership to coerce its Nigerian employees into passing a vote of confidence in the CEO, Roger Brown, and the Board Chairman, Basil Omiyi.
The group said that whereas Section 12 (10) of the Code clearly states that “the tenure for Independent Non-Executive Directors should not exceed three terms of three years each”, Mr. Omiyi and another Board Member, Charles Okeahalam, have refused to resign despite overstaying their maximum of nine years allowed by the said Code.
“Grapevine has it that in a letter dated 30th January 2023, institutional shareholders of Seplat pointed out that Omiyi and Okeahalam had exceeded their tenure and called for their resignation. We also have it on good authority that while some major stakeholders kicked against Mr. Omiyi’s choice as the company’s secretary, having done his maximum of nine year, it was later agreed that he serves for one year to enable the company conclude the search for the replacement of Dr. ABC Orjiako, who stepped down recently. Today, he is in his tenth year and still wants to carry on even when Section 12.10 of the Nigerian Code of Corporate Governance specifically prescribes that the tenure for Independent Non-Executive Directors (INEDs) should not exceed three terms of three years each, “the group stated.
“We call on the Nigerian government to revisit the allegation by Nigerian workers that Mr. Brown and Omiyi are bent on acquiring the Nigerian company though the Capital Market suing some South African fronts. And that is what all this sit-tight syndrome and condonement of the CEO’s excesses is all about, “it urged.
“As a company which gas supply is used to general over 30 percent of power generation in Nigeria, Seplat is a strategic national asset and should not be allowed to slip out of the hands of Nigeria into the hands of foreigner by any means. Lastly, we deplore the alleged pressures being piled on Nigerian workers in Seplat to pass a vote of confidence in the CEO and Board Chairman against their will without even convoking a meeting to hear their grievances. If the founders of Seplat had to vacate their positions when far minor issues arose around them, then MADI does not understand why employees of Seplat, Mr. Brown and Mr. Omiyi, should not bow out honourably or be sacked, “MADI concluded.