Constitute SEC’s Board, Stakeholders Task New Finance Minister

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Goddy Egene
As new Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed assumed office on Monday, capital market stakeholders said one action she could take to calm the rout in the stock market is to constitute the board of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). President Mohammadu Buhari appointed Ahmed to replace Mrs. Kemi Adeosun who resigned last week.

Ahmed was Minister of State for Budget and National Planning before her new appointment. When she resumed work on Monday, she told the staff of the ministry that she would work closely with the Permanent Secretary to catch up on the activities of the Ministry.

She said: “These are very challenging times for our country. It means we are part of the economic team that has been charged with making sure there is economic stability in our country. We have very serious revenue challenges and it is up to us to shore up the revenues of this country.”

Stakeholders said one of the ways to stabilise the economy is to have a strong and virile capital market that can provide needed funds for both corporates and governments to boost economic activities.
According to them, to have a strong capital market require a strong regulator with a board, noting that the board of SEC should therefore be constituted without further delay.
SEC has been without almost three years after the previous board was dissolved a development that has been giving many operators concerns.

A chartered stockbroker and Chief Executive Officer, Sofunix Investment and Communications, Mr. Sola Oni said: “The new finance minister should tackle head-on the corporate governance challenge staring SEC in the face by doing just two things: constitute the board of SEC and address the long -awaited issue of substantive director general and commissioners for the commission immediately. This will enhance professional performance of our commission as a quoted company cannot be allowed to operate without a board of directors.”

He added that the minister must intensify efforts at reviewing the current status of the existing policies that are meant to create enabling environment for the private sector to operate optimally.

“This is where the quoted companies can deliver values to the shareholders and attract investors’ patronage on the secondary market. There must be an impact assessment of Nigeria’s macroeconomic framework to ensure that government’s intervention is not at variance with the realities. Financial inclusion policy should be vigorously pursued. Savings culture is ebbing away in Nigeria and without saving, there cannot be Investment. There should be a deliberate review of Investment policy of pension funds in the stock market to make them more active as one of the methods to deepen the market,” he said.

Oni added that above all “she must consult with the stakeholders in the capital market ecosystem as new challenges affecting the market require new solutions and the stakeholders shall come up with workable suggestions.”
Some investment bankers, had told THISDAY that many investors are discouraged by what they term ‘weak’ regulation because of the absence of board for SEC for almost three years.

“We are talking about financing the budget, we are talking about infrastructure projects, all these are better sourced from the capital market. But I can tell you that while the Nigerian market has potential to provide significant part of the funds, most investors are still reluctant to bring their money because they believe the absence of a board for SEC is highly discouraging,” an investment banker had said.