All Eyes on New SEC DG to Transform the Capital Market

The Senate Committee on Capital Market last week cleared Dr. Emomotimi Agama as the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, giving room for the board and management of the commission to begin the  transformation of the   Nigerian capital market, writes Kayode Tokede

The federal government, as part of efforts to reposition the Nigerian capital market, announced a new board for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month. The new members of the board were hailed as a very good selection by the government because they  include market technocrats, professionals and stockbrokers who have, over the years, contributed to the capital market growth  in particular and  nation’s economy in general.
The Senate Committee on Capital Market last week cleared Dr. Emomotimi Agama as the DG. The Committee, chaired by Senator Osita Izunaso, also approved the nomination of Frana Chukwuogor as Executive Commissioner (Legal and Enforcement). Mr Bola Ajomale as Executive Commissioner (Operations)  and Mrs. Samiya Usman as Executive Commissioner (Corporate Services).

Agama is a degree holder in Accountancy from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology Port-Harcourt, a Master’s degree in Banking and Finance and another Master of Science degree in Economics both from the University of Benin, Benin City Nigeria and a Ph.D. in Economics with distinction from the Nile University of Nigeria where his Ph.D. dissertation was titled Impact of Cryptocurrency Operations on Macroeconomic Variables in Nigeria.
With over 10 years at the Commission,  all eyes of capital market stakeholders are now on Agama to champion the capital market in further restoring local investors’ confidence amid Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) banking sector recapitalisation.

President Bola Tinubu had on April 19 this year appointed Agama as the DG of SEC to take over from Lamido Yuguda.
His appointment as SEC DG has been hailed by capital market stakeholders, who described him as a technocrat that would boost the birthing of the Tinubu administration’s $1trillion economy.
Speaking shortly after his confirmation, Agama said he will accelerate the development of the capital market in a manner that would boost wealth creation, attract investments and create jobs for Nigerians.
According to him, his team was appointed by Tinubu to change the narrative of the capital market and reposition it to the path that would boost economic growth.

He said: “We are bringing on board innovation, development. We are going to change the narrative of the Nigerian capital market. We are going to turn it around. That is the essence of our appointed by Mr. President. With this team, we assure Nigerians that we are going to do the best that the President has the desire to do.
“So, we should all wait to see what is going to happen. Our desire is to move this market forward. And  to help in achieving the President’s $1trillion economy in the shortest possible time.”
He described the capital market as the barometer of the economy, noting that the commission would implement innovative policie and programmes that will create world-class companies in such a way that will ensure redistribution of wealth.
The new DG  was previously the Head Registration, Exchanges, Market Infrastructure and Innovation Department, Special Assistant to the Executive Commissioner Operations and Head, Public Offerings at the Securities and Exchange Commission, where he superintended over the fund raising of most companies.  Agama was a Seconded to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in 2018.

For effective regulation of the market, Agama and the new board at SEC will be expected to apply various modern-day regulatory/supervisory tools, monitoring/inspection, investigation, enforcement and enforcing rule making for effective exercise.
Also, under Yuguda, the SEC successfully launched a new e-Dividend Mandate Management System (eDMMS), making it easier for investors to mandate their accounts for electronic dividends. The link to the portal can be found on the SEC’s website. Despite many efforts, the unclaimed dividend has failed to drop, creating room for mixed sentiments.

Hence, the current board at SEC will need to effectively update market stakeholders on the state of unclaimed dividends in the capital market, and how the government is utilising it to grow the economy.
Other key issues are: investors’ education, passage of the Investments and Securities Bill 2024 and the implementation of the Revised Capital Market Master Plan (RCMMP), Identity Management; establishing a regulatory framework for the digital asset space; commodities trading ecosystem among other task confronting the capital market.

Shareholders’ Optimism
The capital market stakeholders commended President Bola Tinubu for the appointment of Agama as the DG of SEC an expressed high optimism that the new boss of the apex capital market regulator will deliver.
For instance, President, Capital Market Academics of Nigeria, Prof. Uche Uwaleke said  Agama had been in the commission for over 20 years, urging him to continue from where his predecessor stopped. He said that implementation of the Nigerian capital market Masterplan must be paramount in his agenda.
The former Chairman, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigerian (ASHON), Chief Patrick Ezeagu, said capital market operators over the years have been advocating  main stream operators to be appointed into positions in SEC.
“The combination of the board at SEC is what operators have been advocating a very long time. These are people who understand the capital market, and can develop it.

“The FG listened to what we have been advocating  and I believe if the team is allowed to work without any political interference, they will give the market the best,” Ezeagu explained.
Another past ASHON Chairman, Mr. Emeka Madubuike, stated that the new board constitutes major capital market players that understand the daily operations of the domestic capital market.
He said: “They have already experienced it, which gives rooms that will do what is right. The truth is that nobody can look into the future and predict what is going to happen. With the people that are appointed, there is a chance they will do what is right.

“The biggest challenges we have had in our country is that policymakers do not want to look at the two sides of our financial market- capital and money market.
“In every policy, you must create a balance. We believe that the new board at SEC will create a balance between the two markets because they have been in the system for so long and practised it. The appointment is in the right direction.”
On his part, investment banker and  stockbroker, Mr. Tajudeen Olayinka, said  President Bola Tinubu made adequate consultations before making these important appointments.

He said: “For instance, Agama is a down-to-earth professional in capital market regulations whom I know to be more passionate about the well-being and orderly functioning of the capital market in Nigeria. I have had cause to relate with him on some aspects of the market, and can tell you here that those who like to see remarkable progress in the capital market will enjoy him.

“He is quite conversant with different stages of development in the market and will have no difficulty deploying appropriate resources to deal with challenges that may confront the market during his tenure as DG of SEC. Mr. Bola Ajomale, Alhaji Lekan Bello and Alhaji Garba Kurfi are all experienced capital market operators who should be able to provide a proper blend that will make the market function in the overall interest of all stakeholders.
“Mr. Bola Ajomale, the new executive commissioner in charge of operations, is the immediate past MD/CEO of NASD OTC Exchange, while Alhaji Lekan Bello is a stockbroker and one-time commissioner of finance in Ogun State.

“Alhaji Garba Kurfi from Katsina State, comes with a unique touch of some important aspects of capital market operations in Nigeria: Fixed Income, Equity, Commodities, and Derivatives Trading.”
He added:“I feel strongly that better days lie ahead for the Nigerian capital market. I therefore wish to congratulate all the new board members of SEC for a well-balanced appointment of experts into the board of the Commission.”
Congratulating the new SEC DG, President, Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mrs. Bisi Bakare expressed hope that Agama will bring his experience to bear in repositioning and enabling the regulatory body achieve the reasons for its existence.

Bakare urged the new SEC board and management to tackle thorny issues that have over the years cast a dark cloud on the Nigerian capital market. These, she said, include the untamed growth in unclaimed dividend, and frequent delisting of companies from the NGX Limited.
“The SEC management under Agama, she continued, must restore the glory of the commission as an apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market; review the road map to ensure it become realistic in the development, while positioning the market as a role model for peers across Africa and the globe.”
“The commission should renew the fight against abuses in the market by reducing infractions which has continued unabated due to unchecked malpractices,” she said.

Also commenting on the development, the National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria (PSAN), Mr. Boniface Okezie said the appointments suggest that President Bola Tinubu’s administration is beginning to get its acts together.
He lamented that “the immediate past DG after assuming office distanced himself from shareholders’ groups unlike his predecessors who held regular consultations with the leadership of shareholder groups who in the process made inputs into the market.

He urged the new SEC board and management to do everything within their power to return the unclaimed dividend to their owners, while urging them to work with the various stakeholders to move the capital market forward.
On the second banking sector recapitalisation exercise, Okezie charged the new SEC management to enhance its capacity such that it is not overwhelmed leading to unnecessary delays in approving various applications by companies seeking to raise fresh capital, while putting ethnicity and religion aside in the recruitment process.

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