By Ndubuisi Francis
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take its toll across the world, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has urged investors to look to the capital market as a window for wealth creation.
According to a statement issued by the Commission, the acting SEC Director General, Ms. Mary Uduk, who gave the admonition in Abuja, Tuesday, said the organisation was aware of the economic implications of the virus, adding that this was why the management of the SEC has ensured that the market remains open for trading.
She stated that while the lockdown and its partial easing has had tremendous negative impact on Nigeria’s economy and lives of citizens, she however urged Nigerians to remain resolute and explore opportunities available in the capital market.
“We must continue to make the best we can of the situation. As a regulator, we have put measures in place to ensure our market does not shut down, trade is presently going on at the various exchanges that make up our market. The Nigerian Stock Exchange is continuing with trading, the FMDQ and all the Exchanges are actually continuing and everything is going well.
“We are leveraging technology to continue our activities. Initially, people were afraid that technology would have bad effects like loss of jobs, but right now it has become a saving grace.
So most of us have put our Business Continuity Plans (BCP) in process. Staff are working, we are interacting with market operators who are also working, and our market is open.
“We released three circulars concerning actions against COVID-19. One of them was to request Capital Market Operators and organisations we regulate to send us reports on their Business Continuity Plans and processes (BCP) and as you can see the market has been trading as everyone activated their BCPs. We have also requested public companies to continue to send out information to ensure investors are informed.
“They are to give out information on how COVID–19 would affect them, and if possible, make forecasts and outlooks to let investors know how they expect the pandemic to affect their operations and profitability,” Uduk was quoted as saying in the statement issued by the Head, Corporate Communication, SEC, Efe Ebelo.
She stated that before the partial easing of the lockdown, both the SEC and stakeholders in the market were all working remotely, adding that this was done in a bid to ensure there is no lockdown.
Uduk expressed satisfaction with the way the market is going during these challenging times and urged investors to continue to invest, assusing that the market is safe.
On investor confidence in this period of COVID-19, Uduk said the Commission hado put many measures in place to improve market confidence.
Uduk described investor protection as one of the major mandates of the SEC which is viewed seriously in view of the fact that investors will not come to the market in the absence of adequate protection for them.
She noted that “one of the ways we protect investors is the e-dividend system we have put in to ensure investors get their dividends directly,” adding that “dividends do not have to be routed through stockbrokers any longer.”
“We also have the Direct Cash Settlement, Complaints Management Framework, Transmission of shares among others initiatives to protect investors.
“We also have continued to educate investors on how to approach the market, we have continued to ensure improvement of market conduct, and we are working to deepen the market to ensure there is improved confidence. We are optimistic that confidence in the market will continue to improve,” she stressed.
Uduk stated that another form of investor protection the Commission continues to offer is to ensure that market conduct is at its best, as the SEC ensures that registered capital market operators treat investors fairly and obey the rules of the market.