Tony Obiechina, Abuja
As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world and businesses and individuals suffer the effects, Nigerians have been urged to look to the capital market as an avenue to create wealth.
Acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC), Ms. Mary Uduk stated this in a statement by the Head of Corporate Communications, Mrs Efrain Ebelo in Abuja on Tuesday.
Uduk said the Commission was aware of the economic implications of the virus and that was why the Management of the SEC has ensured that the market remained open for trading.
The SEC Boss stated that while the lockdown and its partial easing had tremendous negative impact on Nigeria’s economy and lives of citizens, she however, urged Nigerians to remain resolute and explore opportunities available in the capital market.
According to her, “we must continue to make the best we can of the situation. As a regulator, we have put measures in place to ensure our market does not shut down, trade is presently going on at the various exchanges that make up our market. The Nigerian Stock Exchange is continuing with trading, the FMDQ and all the Exchanges are actually continuing and everything is going well.
“We are leveraging technology to continue our activities. Initially, people were afraid that technology would have bad effects like loss of jobs, but right now it has become a saving grace.
“So most of us have put our Business Continuity Plans (BCP) in process. Staff are working, we are interacting with market operators who are also working, and our market is open.
“We released three circulars concerning actions against COVID-19. One of them was to request Capital Market Operators and organisations we regulate to send us reports on their Business Continuity Plans and processes (BCP) and as you can see the market has been trading as everyone activated their BCPs.
“We have also requested public companies to continue to send out information to ensure investors are informed. They are to give out information on how COVID–19 would affect them, and if possible, make forecasts and outlooks to let investors know how they expect the pandemic to affect their operations and profitability”.
She stated that before the partial easing of the lockdown, both the SEC and stakeholders in the market were all working remotely adding that these were done in a bid to ensure there is no shut down.
Uduk expressed satisfaction with the way the market was going during the challenging times and urged investors to continue to invest as the market was safe.
On investor confidence in the period of COVID-19, Uduk said the Commission had many measures in place to improve market confidence.
The Acting DG described Investor protection as one of the major mandates of the SEC, realising that investors would not come to the market in the absence of adequate protections for them.
She said, “one of the ways we protect investors is the e-dividend system we have put in to ensure investors get their dividends directly. Dividends do not have to be routed through stockbrokers any longer. We also have the Direct Cash Settlement, Complaints Management Framework, Transmission of shares among others initiatives to protect investors.
“We also have continued to educate investors on how to approach the market, we have continued to ensure improvement of market conduct, and we are working to deepen the market to ensure there is improved confidence. We are optimistic that confidence in the market will continue to improve”.
The SEC Boss added that another form of investor protection the Commission continued to offer was to ensure that market conduct was at its best, as the SEC ensured that registered capital market operators treated investors fairly and obeyed the rules of the market.