The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Oscar Onyema, has affirmed the Exchange’s commitment to supporting state governments in the country who would need its professional support as they consider privatisation of State-Owned-Enterprises (SOEs) following the Global negative impact of COVID-19 which affected every sector of the economy, particularly in finance.
At a webinar put together yesterday by Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in synergy with Nigerian Governors’ Forum and Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, NIPC, with the theme: “Privatisation In Nigeria and the outlook for Subnational Economic Development”, Mr Oscar in his address said, in the light of current reality, NSE would do anything logical to promote mobilization of capital for investment and other necessary services as it is required of the Exchange.
He maintained that since every sector is affected by the global pandemic, the fiscal health of the sub-national economy can be supported by privatisation initiatives and by taking full advantage of opportunities offered by the capital market. He said, ‘It’s important you factor in what the capital market has to offer in your business decisions.’
Also, the Director-General, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda, said: ‘Privatisation is the answer to major economic challenges some states are grappling with. He added that borrowing has affected Nigeria negatively in recent time, therefore there is no better time to discuss alternative funding sources for subnational level than now given the adverse impact of global pandemic in the entire world.
‘Since 1978, State Governments have been able to raise close to N900 billion through debt issuances, a significant amount of this fund has been deployed to finance capital projects across the country, however, the ability of state government to continue to borrow in a sustainable manner has been severely impacted in recent times with the huge infrastructure gap, decreased allocation from the federal purse owing to fall in oil price and depressed internally generated revenue, states find it difficult to even pay salaries after servicing their loans obligations.
He noted that privatisation of state-owned enterprises is the key to unlocking economic potentialities inherent in state-owned assets, a lot of them are still being controlled by the government, but unfortunately these assets are underperforming or in most cases subtracting in value due to poor management. ‘It is time for state governments to revisit the privatisation value proposition.
‘We just recorded about six Initial Public Offerings, IPOs, in the last five years which is not encouraging. So listing state-owned enterprises will give Nigerians the opportunity to have stakes into those enterprises. So, the government will gain alot from privatisation, ranging from infrastructure development, jobs creation, and the national economy through a listing of state-owned enterprises. This will spur activities in the Nigeria equity market and increase market capitalization and liquidity among others benefits, howbeit, we reiterate our resolve to ensure an enabling regulatory environment for the interest of all stakeholders,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Bismarck Rewane, decried the level of Economic hardship in the country which according to him are largely due to insensitive decisions and policies on the side of the government.
Mr Rewane bemoaned that Nigerians are getting less than what they give to the Nigerian state in recent times. ‘We pay high for electricity, Premium Motor Spirit (Fuel), taxes, and other cost of living in Nigeria, yet we get very little dividends from the government,’ he posited.
On her part, the chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, affirmed the readiness of banks in the country to work hand-in-glove with State governments and bankroll any bankable projects, as state governments mull privatisation of state-owned enterprises, provided politics is practically excluded from every deal.
Awosika added that government across the board must show good faith, honesty and continuity in every agreement reached despite all odds. ‘The bank is ever ready to do their bids, but first, the government must fix the political aspect, de-risk it and show sincerity, so long as it improves the welfare of the people and it makes sense, we are fit and proper to work with the government, but continuity is our concern, even when there is change in government regime’ she stressed.
Adding his voice, the Managing Director, InfraCredit, Chinua Azubike, put forward that visionary leadership across board is critical to fix every shortcoming in the country noting that Nigeria’ s myriad of challenges is not beyond the intellectual capacity of some Nigerians but the country has remained in a sorry state because the right people are not in the right places to do the right things. ‘Only men and women who have the mental capacity and the right mindset can fix the challenges bedeviling the country. We don’t need to pretend, Nigeria has come a long way, we need to behave professionally in everything we do,’ he opined.
In a remark, the Director-General of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Asishana Okauru, challenged the government at all levels to be updated in keeping data and information of people, events and other relevant matters, safe with the deployment of modern technology.
According to him, such updated data and information must be timely and accessible by any person/s or group and the government who need such data and information as a matter of fact for planning, decision making and policy design. ‘Data and information are very critical for making sound decisions, planning and policy design, we must not continue to cry when we lost data and information, we need to upgrade, the world has moved on,’ he said.