By Michael Eboh & Chinedu Ibeabuchi
LAGOS â€” AFTER months of controversies, accusations and speculations, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, yesterday emerged the 17th President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Dangote who, until his election, was the First Vice President of the NSE, emerged the President, following his appointment by the NSE Council members in Lagos.
According to the Director-General of the NSE, Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, Dangote was appointed based on a unanimous acclamation by the Council members immediately after the conclusion of its Annual General Meeting (AGM).
She said, â€œIt is interesting to note that a remarkable feat was achieved with Dangoteâ€™s appointment, today (yesterday).
For the second time in the history of the NSE, the president did not emerge through voting. He emerged after a unanimous acclamation by the entire members of the Council.â€
Dangote joined the Council of the NSE in February 2008, as the Chairman, Kaduna/Kano/Yola Zonal Council. With his appointment, he will preside over the affairs of the NSE for a period of three years.
The Council also appointed Chief Reginald Abbey-Hart and Dr. Erastus Akingbola as First and Second Vice President, respectively.
Hart, is the Chairman, Port Harcourt / Onitsha Zonal Council, comprising Rivers, Bayelsa, Anambra, Enugu and Benue States, while Dr. Akingbola is the Chairman, Lagos/Ibadan Zonal Council, comprising Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Kwara, Kogi and Ekiti States.
Dangote, in his acceptance speech, identified five key areas of focus that will drive his activities as the President of the NSE, in the next three years.
The areas, according to him, include: Transparency and improved governance of the market; Improving the liquidity, turnover and size of the market; enhancingÂ market efficiency by ensuring clearer and updated rules, processes and procedures; Provision of world class infrastructure and technology for the market; massive capacity building and rapid skill enhancement of the staff of the NSE and investor education.
He continued, â€œI have no doubt that my tenure as the President of the NSE will be tough and challenging, especially because of the global economic downturn, its effect on our economy and our capital market.
However, I believe that these challenges will provide the opportunity for us to reposition our Stock Exchange and capital market to become the leading Stock Exchange in Africa for capital formation driven by transparency, innovation, efficiency and liquidity.
â€œThe effects of the global financial meltdown and the subsequent massive outflow of investments from our stock market led to a precipitous slide in the value of securities in our market. This has greatly shaken confidence in the market. One of my main tasks will be to begin to restore the confidence of our battered and disillusioned investors once again in the market.
â€œThis will be accomplished by ensuring that we have a more open and fair market, improving the disclosure standards, forging a closer and better collaboration with other regulators particularly SEC (while still protectingÂ the independence of the NSE).
â€œOur surveillance, compliance and enforcement units will be further strenghtened to ensure that they operate optimally. We will update our corporate governance rules not only for our listed companies but also for operators and the Council itself because charity must begin at home.
â€œIf the Stock Exchange and its dealing members must continue to remain viable economic units, we must make sure that we increase the liquidity and turnover in the market. One of my first missions will be to lead and intensify discussions with other relevant parties in the economy to put in place a plan to improve the liquidity and turnover in our market particularly in the secondary market.
â€œWe have to discuss and agree on what to do with the â€˜toxic assetsâ€™ in our market and very critically how to provide funding for our stockbrokers to refloat their businesses. If we are to compete with other market on the continent, then we have to begin aggressively marketing all the high quality companies in the sub region to make sure that they are listed in our market.
â€œI will make sure that we take very concrete steps to ensure that we further deepen and expand our market by introducing other products and attracting more investors. Working with the management of the NSE, I will make sure that we adhere to the timetable to dematerialise the market so that by January 2010 we do not have certificates in our market.â€
Prior to the AGM, there was heavy tension, as the capital market community was inundated with conflicting reports about the conduct of AGM, there were even speculations that the AGM and elections would not hold, following controversies surrounding Dangoteâ€™s alleged involvement in the manipulation of African Petroleumâ€™s Plc share price.
Different parties had called for the resignation of Dangote from the Council of the NSE, while other groups had gone to court, praying the court to stop the conduct of the elections.
The AGM, however, was not devoid of skirmishes, as few minutes into its commencement, the outgoing President of the NSE, Oba Otudeko, took a wrong step, asking observers, comprising members of the press and other market watchers to leave the hall of the AGM, before he was later prevailed upon to recall the observers and was also made to apologise publicly.