By Onozure Dania
Mr. Benjamin Obidegwu is the Chairman, Capital Market Solicitors Association, CMSA. In this interview, he spoke on why the association was formed and the activities of the body.
What does the CMSA represent to modern-day commercial/transactional lawyers? And do you think it has achieved its set objectives over the years?
CMSA is an independent self-regulatory association of solicitors and commercial law firms engaged in capital market practice. The association was established in 2001, with the aim of projecting the role and relevance of solicitors in capital market operations. It was set up primarily as a platform to articulate and promote the interest of legal practitioners specialising or dealing in capital market transactions.
I will say the association has achieved its set objective. The capital market is a very specialised and technical area and requires specialised knowledge to be able to play effectively in that area of law. Towards keeping the members abreast of developments in the capital market, the association not long after it was established, set up the Continuous Legal Education (CLE) Program.
The CLE Program is geared towards developing adequate legal capacity in the Nigerian capital market to meet the demands of an evolving capital market. Besides the CLE program, the association also regularly organises Members’ lunch and our flagship event, the Annual Business Luncheon.
The Members’ lunch is strictly for members while the Annual Business Luncheon is thrown open to other capital market operators and regulators. At both programs, we try to have conversations on current topical issues and challenges in the capital market and how to deepen activities that will see to the growth and development of the market. Attendees always leave the program more knowledgeable and happier than they came.
How has the association collaborated with the public and private sectors to achieve its goals and objectives over the years?
We have done that effectively using the platform of our Annual Business Luncheon. Beyond having the Public and Private sectors participate as sponsors, we have brought (like we are doing this year) experts from those sectors to speak at the event and in the process, they share their experiences and suggestions of tackling capital market challenges which in most cases, align with the objectives of the association.
Again, we are also very active in carrying out our corporate social responsibility such as working with the Capital Market Support Committee on Covid-19 set up by the SEC. We had in the past also contributed towards the SEC capital market enlightenment committee project.
This would be your first virtual annual luncheon, what are the offerings at this year’s luncheon and how would you make the experience as close to a physical luncheon as possible?
The current executives will make history as the first to organise a virtual conference for the association. We all know why we are going virtual. Like our previous physical events, we have put together an assemblage of experts both in the capital market and in the field of health to share their experiences and proffer solutions on how to raise funds for the development of our health sector. I am also happy to share with you that the new Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dr. Lamido Yuguda, has confirmed that he will be attending the event as our special guest of honour.
I can assure our attendees the discussions at this year’s ABL will be just as topical and insightful as always even though being virtual we are unable to serve lunch. The members of the Planning Committee headed by Efemo Olotu are working extremely hard to ensure that attendees will have a great experience and with the IT support we have engaged, we are assured that attending this virtual ABL will be seamless.
What informed your choice of theme for this year’s event?
As it is said Health is wealth. Clearly, we are all aware of the huge infrastructural deficit in Nigeria which includes the health sector. However, the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected over 15,000 people with over one thousand people dead made it glaring how vulnerable we are regarding the deficit in our health sector and the need for active steps toward building key infrastructures beginning now rather than later.
The primary challenge is funding. It is evident that government lacks the capacity to bridge the funding gap in the sector. So as an Association, we thought it very important to bring to the attention of the public and private sector the possibility of raising funds to develop the health sector through the capital market.