By Michael Eboh
The Federal Government of Nigeria has said that it plans to develop policies and programmes to drive investment in the country and the capital market in particular within the next couple of years.
Speaking during the commemoration of 50 years of trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), in Lagos, Monday, President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, disclosed that the federal government is committed to introducing measures that will help deepen the country’s capital market, repositioning the economy as a major player in the global economic landscape.
He expressed confidence of a phenomenal growth in the market in the next couple of years, a development which he said will help drive economic growth and development.
He said, “We will pursue definite policies and programmes to transform the investment climate in the country, engendering Nigeria’s growth in the global economy climate.
“We are committed to vigorously pursue good policies which will have effect in proper economic planing and help transform the business environment, putting the economy in a strategic position in the global economy.
“I want to assure everyone that Nigeria will remain open to business in the next four years, next 10 years and next 50 years.”
Earlier in his welcome address, Interim President of the Council of the NSE, Mallam Ballama Manu lamented the inability of the capital market to function as a barometer to the economy, unlike in other country, a development he attributed to the absence of key sectors of the economy from the capital market.
According to him, it is conspicuous to both the local and international investing public that two of the leading sectors in the Nigerian economy; Telecommunications and the upstream Oil and Gas sectors, are excluded from the market.
This, he said, is against the fact that majority of the multinational companies in these sectors are listed in the stock exchanges in their home countries, generating significant wealth and growth opportunities for their local economies.
“The disconnect between these sectors of the economy and those traded on the stock market makes international investors uncertain about investing in our stock market. Although the international Telecom companies have local partners, the vast majority of Nigerian investors have not benefitted from the huge profit made by these companies,” he asserted.
Speaking further, Manu said, “We are not advocating a retroactive legislation to compel the Telcos to list, rather, we are calling for a targeted Federal Government policy in encouraging the Telcos to list a percentage of their shares in the local market.
“For the IOCs active in the Nigerian upstream Oil and Gas Sectors, we appreciate the reality of their current operating structure that precludes them from listing. Our hope is that as soon as the operating structure constraints are removed and the Joint Ventures are eventually incorporated, government would encourage the successor companies to list in the local market.”
Also, speaking, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola reiterated the commitment of its administration to providing the necessary infrastructure for businesses in the state to thrive, thereby impacting indirectly on the capital market.
According to him, the expansion of the capital market will ultimately depend on the capacity of the businesses listed on it, while the successes of the businesses depend on the infrastructure available to support their activities.
Other dignitaries at the event include: Governor of the Central of Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Senator Udo Udoma, Director-General of SEC, Ms Arunma Oteh among others.