Speech-The Pivotal Role of the Nigerian Capital Markets in the Transformation Agenda for the Nigerian Economy - Arunmah Oteh, DG SEC
TITLE: “The Pivotal Role of the Nigerian Capital Markets in the Transformation Agenda for the Nigerian Economy”
SPEAKER: ARUNMA OTEH, DIRECTOR GENERAL, SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION NIGERIA
DATE: 27 NOVEMBER 2012
OCCASSION: CAPITAL MARKET COMMITTEE RETREAT,VENUE: DELTA STATE GOVERNMENT HOUSE ANNEXE, DELTA STATE
My colleagues, members of the capital market community, please join me in thanking the Governor of Delta State for generously accepting to host the second CMC Annual Retreat and for the convivial environment he has provided us. We are happy to be in Delta State, the state with a new slogan under Governor Uduaghan - “The Finger of God.” Your Excellency, we have all had an absolutely outstanding time as well as fruitful deliberations and we know the ‘Finger of God’ is upon us.
Colleagues, I welcome you to Warri, one of the three cities hosting Nigeria’s refineries, and of course one of Nigeria’s major oil cities. It is instructive that the capital market community is meeting in Warri. Residents of this city are known for their good transaction structuring skills and uncommon financial savvy, as we learn from the adventures of Akpos, the legendary Warri character. In one depiction, Akpos enters a barber’s shop and asks how much it costs to have a haircut. He is told “N500.” He then asks how much it costs to have a shave, and is told “N50.” Akpos looks at the barber, and says - “ok, shave my head.”
As you may recall, my opening speech yesterday emphasized thinking outside the box. I dwelt on how we in the capital market can be more innovative, more courageous and more pragmatic in order to grow a capital market, which can drive rapid economic prosperity as captured in the Transformation Agenda. How can we create a market that can help to diversify our economy away from oil to a broad-based and more robust economy? How can the capital market play a bigger role in closing the gap in key infrastructure – power, roads, rails, ports, etc? I also shared a short story about the visionary US interstate highway system which President Eisenhower kick-started in 1965. Today, it is over 75,000 km long, connects every state and also connects the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean by road.
Like the Eisenhower administration, which raised a massive construction bond financed primarily with fuel tax receipts, last year the Delta State government approached the SEC and we approved a N100 B bond programme. The State has already issued N50 billion. The money raised will finance critical infrastructure, including the development of dual carriageways linking major cities in the state. The Governor has offered to take us on a tour of some of the state’s project sites. We believe that such projects which facilitate transportation of people and goods make our country more competitive, and open up new opportunities to more citizens. A few other states have done the same, and I hope that we can generate sufficient momentum and enough awareness of the capital market as a source of finance not only for business, but also for public infrastructure.
Yesterday, we listened to a keynote address delivered by the Honorable Minister of Communication and Technology on the linkages between ICT and the capital market, the opportunities we can unleash by getting ICT infrastructure right, as well as investment opportunities in ICT. I am excited that the Honorable Minister shares our vision. The panel discussion on ICT, which the Minister chaired, and the second panel on taking our market to the next level – both went a long way in drawing our attention to steps we must take urgently.
We also examined our key challenges and priorities such as Infrastructure and ICT, Restoring Investor Confidence/Complaints Management Framework, the Financial Health of Operators, our Dematerialization Programme, issues around Collective Investment Schemes, Advocacy Issues with other agents of Government, including the CBN.
Today, we are delighted to have in our midst, no less a person than the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to lead us in the exploration of the inter-relationship between the Money and the Capital Markets. We will also appreciate his perspective on the macroeconomic issues which directly impact the Nigerian capital market, a key one being interest rates. We look forward to a stimulating keynote address and lively interaction thereafter. The Advocacy Sub-Committee has indicated that it would like to engage directly with the CBN Governor. We are lucky to have him here. We are seeking to build bridges and can only hope that this session will deepen a tradition of collaboration across markets for the collective growth of all segments of the Nigerian economy.
We believe that saving and investing are so critical to the economic prosperity of a nation that these virtues should be inculcated in citizens from a tender age. In so many ways, we have taken up investor education campaigns to all NYSC camps, established capital market clubs in secondary schools, and organised quiz competitions at our other outreach events. We are continuing in that tradition today, as we will see in the quiz competition for Delta State school children. We hope that the seed we plant today will transform many lives in this state and across the country.
Once again, I want to thank our very generous hosts, our special guests and our colleagues for taking time off your very busy schedules to be here. We look forward to very fruitful deliberations. Please join us tonight at the banquet dinner with Governor Uduaghan.
Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission.