Your Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON, Vice President of Federal Republic of Nigeria,

The Honourable Minister of State for Finance, Senator, Jubril Martins Kuye,

Chairman, Board of Directors of SEC, Col. Yohanna Madaki,

Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Mallam Suleyman A. Ndanusa,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to speak on the Capital Market as Engine-room for National Development at this inaugural edition of the Annual Capital Market Conference and Dinner organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Permit me to begin this address by commending the Board and Management of the apex statutory regulator of the capital market, the Securities and Exchange Commission not only for organizing this conference and dinner, but for the laudable height that the capital market has attained in recent times.

Although not a practitioner, as an interested observer, I have keenly watched developments on the Nigerian capital market in recent times and have reached a conclusion that the market has not only recorded commendable growth over time, it has also shown that it possesses the potentials to transform the nation’s economy and put it on the path of sustainable growth.

The capital market and more specifically, the Stock market has widely been described as the barometer of a nation’s economy. This unique position could be a useful guide to policy formulators and executors to measure the effectiveness or otherwise of their policies and make amends as necessary.

One is therefore not surprised that the development of capital markets formed part of the strategies for restructuring the economies of many erstwhile communist countries.

Talking specifically about the capital market as the engine room for national development, I believe that the ability of the market to facilitate the mobilization of long-term capital is extremely important for realizing our developmental aspirations as its tenor makes it most appropriate for corporate planning.

As you are well aware, in spite of the fact that the nation is blessed with abundant natural resources, the bane of our efforts at development has largely been inadequacy of investible funds. Our situation has of course not been helped by a debt burden of close to US S30 billion, which further reduces the funds available to execute the numerous projects of government. While the National Assembly has always been eager to encourage the Executive to embark on such projects, we cannot pretend to be unconscious of the dwindling resources available to execute them.

For an essentially, mono-cultural economy such as ours, available funds are not only limited, but also unpredictable as they are susceptible to factors often beyond government’s control. The imperative of diversification can therefore not be overemphasized.

Paradoxically, while projects execution has been a strong expectation of Nigerians, the constraints of funds available to government has largely made this a mirage. With oil proceeds continuing to fluctuate in line with the vagaries of the international market, the need to ensure the welfare of the citizenry has also meant that there is a limit to how much tax burden can be placed on the people.

In view of the foregoing, the capital market provides a ready alternative to the existing sources of funds to both the private and public sectors for the funding of their projects. I am aware that some companies have in the past utilized the facilities of the market to raise substantial funds for working capital and the expansion of their factories. 

Similarly, some state governments have also accessed the market in recent times for the expansion and rehabilitation of their infrastructure as well as the execution of such welfare projects. I am also told that the total amount raised by corporate bodies through the issuance of equities in year 2001 was N32.4 billion.

As majority of our audience here are market operators, I believe that I do not need to bore you with what is obviously an impressive performance of the capital market over the years. I believe that there are figures that you either have or are readily available from SEC, the apex regulator of the market.

However, notwithstanding, the performance of our market thus far, I am convinced that we have barely scratched the surface of the vast potentials of the market especially when viewed within the global context. I do believe that many of us here must have read a recent report which estimated that a total of N1.1 trillion dollars of securities transactions take place in the world daily.

I therefore strongly believe that in the era of globalization and in the light of the various efforts to improve our investment climate and market infrastructure, Nigeria should be able to attract some of these funds from across the borders using the capital market.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, since I am not unaware that we are primarily here tonight to eat, I shall not delay us much longer. Let me therefore conclude this address by assuring all stakeholders in the Nigerian capital market, and indeed, all Nigerians that as legislators we are prepared to provide all the necessary legislative backing such as the amendment of existing laws, where necessary, in order to foster the growth and enhance the efficiency of the capital market to enable it more effectively carry out its natural role as the engine of our national development.