Yuguda: A regulator With Uncanny Zeal For Investment Space Reforms

Abraham Akinwale

A cursory assessment of the activities of SEC Nigeria and its contributions to the nation’s GDP over the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic era and the recent Russia-Ukraine war showed that the Commission has surpassed analysts’ forecasts in terms of investment inflows and other regulatory performance indices.

Now let me support this opinion with some unassailable evidences and the facts speak on the issues of discussion.

Recent activities of the investment market regulatory commission under the Yuguda-led executive management shows clearly that rather than bemoaning the inclement economic climate in the country, the SEC management has not only set strategic goals but also continued, through innovative regulatory guidelines and collaboration with other relevant institutions, to expand the frontiers of the investment space with the attendant implications for improved local and FDIs into the economy.

 

The facts speak on this.For instance, on market-wide issues, the Commission has drafted and presented an amendment to the ISA and the Bill to the National Assembly as part of its efforts to enhance the regulatory framework of the Nigerian capital market.

The Bill will soon be passed and enacted into law. Similarly, Commission has been implementing the capital market development goals set out in the Capital Market Master Plan (CMMP) (2015-2025) and successfully completed the review of the CMMP to realign the initiatives/ deliverables to prevailing market conditions and keep the document relevant in the dynamic capital market due to issues related to Fintech, sustainability and regional integration.

The revised edition will soon be launched.To resolve legacy issues of identity management which is a crucial driver in improving market participation and solving unclaimed dividends and related problems, the management also inaugurated a market-wide Identity Management Committee with a mandate to harmonize the various databases of investors in the Nigerian capital market, amongst others and the report of the committee is expected to resolve the issues hampering the growth of the market over the years.

SEC DG Mr. Lamido Yuguda

It is also interesting to note that the Commission has played a leading role in the Federal Government’s Working Group on National Savings Strategy (NSS) and supporting the government in actualizing recommendations of the working group for a national savings strategy in the Nigerian Capital Market Master Plan.

On primary market activities, the Yuguda-led management has also approved 41 new equities issues valued at N656.9 billion, 37 bonds valued at N776.2 billion, 28 applications for shelf programmes valued at N2.5 trillion and 21 Exchange Traded Derivatives Contracts and processed 6 Schemes of Merger, 7 Acquisitions, 21 Corporate Restructurings, and 3 Takeovers during the period.

It also ensured that over N11 billion of untraceable shareholders’ funds from Schemes of Arrangement in the custody of Registrars were transferred to the National Investor Protection Fund (NIPF).

As part of the process of improving time to market transactions, the Commission also initiated the first electronic offering and granted approval for the first 21 derivatives contracts which had 7 and 14 different contracts from both the NGX and FMDQ Exchanges respectively in the past two years.On Collective Investment Scheme (CIS), the Yuguda-led management has commenced implementation of 100 percent custody requirement in the CIS sector to protect investors.

In its secondary market activities in the past two years the Commission also succeeded in the demutualization of the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

To enhance the Commission’s capacity in regulating Fintechs, the management also collaborated with the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance, UK for the training of its select employees on a certified course on Fintech & Regulatory Innovation and also partnered with the World Bank to commission a Fintech Scoping project, amongst other initiatives.

In furtherance of its market regulation roles, the management of the Commission was able to ascertain the unclaimed dividends of publicly traded companies that fall within the categories eligible to be borrowed by the Federal Government totalling N56,584,795,648.71 and $8,153,118.41 respectively. On the pesky issue of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing Of Terrorism (AML/CFT), following the GIABA Mutual Evaluation of Nigeria, the Yuguda-led executive management had amended some capital market rules to meet both the GIABA Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) Follow-Up Process and the FATF International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) requirements in order to avoid Nigeria being placed on the FATF public grey list at the Plenary when the grace period expires in October, 2022.

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The Commission also conducted investigations into complaints by investors and out of the 250 complaints brought forward into the period, 182 were resolved.

Also, out of the 58 complaints in relation to Ponzi schemes received, 45 were resolved. It recovered 10,659,168 units of various companies’ shares as well as the sum of N1,384,255,526.73 recovered for investors during the period under review.

The Commission has issued New Rules on Robo-Advisory Services and also introduced new rules on Crowd Funding, Social bonds, Digital Assets Exchange (DAX), Digital Assets Custodians (DACs), Issuance of Digital Assets as Securities and Requirements for registration of Digital Assets Offering Platforms as part of its efforts to guarantee security of investments in the capital market.

On corporate governance measures, the Commission also released new guidelines on the Implementation of Sections 60-63 of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA), 2007 and also developed the SEC Corporate Governance Guidelines (SCGG) to address corporate governance issues not considered in the NCCG, and released same in October 2020.

The Yuguda-led team also amicably resolved disputes between the board and shareholders of listed companies, including disputes between Alhaji Muneer Alade Bankole (the Chief Executive Officer) and Sheikh Abdulmohsen A. Al-Thunayan (Chairman of the Board) of Medview Airlines, resolved those between major shareholders of Ikeja Hotels Plc and returned the company to profitability and also reached a settlement with Oando Plc in 2021 after concluding investigation of Corporate Governance allegations leveled against the company.

In regard to its market development mandate, the Commission has continued its Investor Education and Public enlightenment programmes by organizing workshops on infusion of Capital Market Studies into the curricula of basic and secondary schools in Nigeria.

It has also held webinars on Non-Interest Capital Market Products, Financial Inclusion, Ponzi Schemes and Solid Minerals targeted at the pension industry, investor protection, women, youth/millennials and the commodities segment of the market.Similarly, in furtherance of its non-interest market education and enlightenment programmes, the Commission collaborated with the Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) and the Auditing and Accounting Organisation of Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) to organize a Non-Interest Capital Market training for over 1000 participants.

It has also improved the capacity of the Nigerian Capital Market Institute (NCMI) by providing it with the necessary tools to train Capital Market Operators (CMO) in different fields. On international engagements, the Director General of the Commission took over the leadership of the West African Securities Regulators Association (WASRA).

Under his leadership, rules for the integrated West African Capital Market were developed and reviewed. Yuguda is also a member of the IOSCO Board, representing the Africa/Middle East Regional Committee of IOSCO (AMERC)On human capital development, the Commission had in 2019 conducted an internal capacity assessment that outlined staffing deficits and needs and in 2021 engaged the consulting firm, Ernst & Young to work on appropriate manning levels to ensure optimal staffing.

In furtherance of its drive to leverage its operations, the Commission conducted a review of its IT infrastructure and determined that it was in a poor state.

During the period under review, the Commission received grants and assistance for some of its capacity building and operation standardization projects.

For instance, it received funding from the Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSDA) as support of four of its major projects, namely Human Resources, IT transformation, Institutional Capacity Assessment and the Capital Market Master Plan Review. It also secured a grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to support capacity building projects in the areas of RBS, Derivatives and Green Bonds, amongst others.

With all the above remarkable achievements recorded by the Yuguda-led executive management of the SEC over the past two years, it is clear, as most analysts have observed, that Nigeria’s investment space remains one of the most conducive for investment globally based on the standards of the regulatory guidelines and potential for good returns on investment.

Abraham Akinwale wrote in from Lagos

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