News Column

I Don't Spend My Money Anyhow - Adesiyan

July 27, 2014

Nkasiobi Oluikpe

Today, despite having shares in over 230 companies, he tells you vehemently, "I don't spend my money anyhow", and, coming from a very poor background, it is understandable why he has taken such decision. He had to spend about one quarter of his secondary school days in the classroom and the remaining outside the classroom because his school fees were never available on time.

When he left secondary school and started working, his initial salaries were used to offset the debt that went into paying his school fees, borrowed from the Oshomalus (moneylenders) in Ijesha, Osun State. Though he says he is not a miser, his life experiences put together have contributed in making him very careful with his money.

However, one thing he doesn't joke about is investing in the stock exchange. Early in his work life, in 1971, he started with the shares of Guinness Nigeria Plc and has ever since been investing in different companies, quoted and unquoted.

Today, he has shares in over 230 companies. He took to buying shares because of his belief in growing his money, before which he was saving them at First Bank of Nigeria Plc.

Timothy Ayobami Adesiyan is the president of Nigeria Shareholders Solidarity Association (NSSA). He took on the mantle of leadership of the association from its founder, Asiwaju Akintunde Asalu, who died on December 27, 2007. On May 1, 2008, after the election at the association's quarterly meeting, he was asked to step in as the substantive president.

Stating the objectives of the association, Adesiyan says it was formed to educate shareholders and investors about their rights and responsibilities at annual general meetings, and to encourage people to invest rather than spend all their resources.

And so far, according to Adesiyan, in almost all companies, there are members of the association as shareholders because as companies send out their prospectus to the market for the sale of shares, the association holds meetings to analyse the prospects of the companies and advices members on the viability of such companies.

His leadership qualities are now used to advantage by members of the association, especially when they need his influence to get appointed into some positions in quoted companies. This is because he has been imbibing the motto of his secondary school: I learn in order that I may serve."

Talking about the lingering issue of unclaimed dividends, Adesiyan says that his association has been championing the cause of shareholders regarding unclaimed dividends. "In any AGM we attend, we always ask for the list of unclaimed dividends. So when we get the list we always circulate it among our members so that they can inform whoever they know on the list so that they can come and claim their dividend.

"We always pressurise companies to publish the list of unclaimed dividends and, as at now, we advice companies to print out the list of unclaimed dividends on the website of their companies so that the world at large will be able to see who and who is having claims. But we always ask them to apply some caution by not quoting the amount against the names of people because of fraudsters."

Adesiyan refutes the claim that some companies without credibility come to the market to sell shares and then disappear into thin air. "That is partially true because there is no company that is quoted that will just go away with the money like that. They will operate for some time; they may only have difficulties in continuing the business. As you invest in profitable companies, you may also fall into the trap of companies who could not push forward. They become moribund and thereafter may not be able to send their returns to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

"But what we are always against is the way the NSE is delisting these companies because they don't send regular returns. When they are delisted, NSE should ensure that they discuss with the owners of the business (shareholders). When that they delist those people, they go away with our money, which is not good enough. And when we approach the NSE, they usually say we should go and find them. They, that brought them to the market must be able to locate them and let us get hold of them, apprehend them and ask them to pay us our money. But this has not been so.

"Some of them even wi8llfully, play pranks that will get them delisted. What we see now is that some companies are celebrating delisting with champagne because they know they are not going to be accountable to shareholders anymore, as the string has been taken off their necks.

"Some of these companies even go through some crooked ways to buy delisting. And as soon as they are delisted, even when shareholders go to them, they say, who do you want to report us to? We have been delisted. Ask them to hold AGM, they would say, we have been delisted. This is where we are appealing to the NSE and SEC to help us bring these people to account for the funds in their custody because it is demoralizing investors. In order not to erode the confidence of investors, the regulatory authorities should address these issues," he says.

Adesiyan advices any intending investor to speak to people who are experienced in the trade, but especially to stockbrokers, who are able to analyse the future of various companies.

He has, consequently, absolved the NSE of any blame, claiming that, but for the Nigerian factor, they are doing their best, because: "Even in life, when some people want to borrow money from you, from the first day, they have made up their minds that they are not going to pay back that money. So are some of these investors who come to the market. From the time they are coming to the market, they come to collect short-term capital with the hope that within a short time, when they gather money, they will not be holding any meetings with the shareholders anymore. But the NSE would not recognise them until they begin to 'perform', though they are trying in bringing these delinquents to book."

Government, he stresses, also has a role to play, in the sense that "government through the SEC should assist the shareholders in tracing delisted companies to their assets and hand them over to the authorities, who will liquidate them if need be and get back the money, because some of them still have viable assets. We still come across some the people operating these moribund companies living very flamboyant lives with the money of investors. I think such defaulters should be brought to book."

Adesiyan has this to say to people who hide their shares from their children: "This is exactly the cause of unclaimed dividends. Once somebody passes the age of 60, you should make your children, at least one or two of them, joint signatories to your shares so that in case you pass over to the world beyond, they will continue to operate the shares.

On the other hand, he points out that the reason for such secretive behavior might be that parents are being prudent, as "there are some shares that sell for N1,200 per share. If your child knows you have up to about 20,000 to 50,000 shares, and you are telling him there is no money when he asks for money, he would ask you what sort of story is that, you should go and sell off part of your shares!"

Notwithstanding the sad experiences that bring bitter memories to him, such that he would not like to comment about them, Adesiyan says he has reasons to thank God, he has been able to train his children, he lives in a house of his own, and gets returns from his shares, enough to make him fairly comfortable.

Casting his mind back, the shareholders' president reflects on his childhood: "I was the fourth child of my parents and because my mother did not have a boy in time, by the time I came I was so precious to my parents, so they named me Ayobami, which means, 'joy has come to me at last'. My early life was very poor. I attended my secondary school through a lot of suffering, no food, no clothing, and no shoes. My fees were never available to be paid on time. I spend about one quarter of the time in class and the remaining outside the class, so I was used to reading at home but I never missed any of my exams because even on the date of terminal exam, the principal of my school would grant me permission to come and sit for the exam believing that my parents would come and pay later. And even when I finished my secondary school, my initial salaries were used to pay some of the arrears of debts of my school fees to the Oshomalu (moneylenders) people in Ijesha. That is why now, I am very careful about my money."

For more stories on investments and markets, please see HispanicBusiness' Finance Channel

Source: AllAfrica

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