April 20, 2024

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From ‘Japa’ to ‘Pada’ and the Coronation (sorry, investiture) of Aig-Imoukhuede

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CEM REPORT, PERSONALITY | There were plenty accolades, tributes, humour and pomp as one of the nation’s stars in the financial industry was honoured by his peers last Wednesday. In many respects, the investiture of Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede as the ninth honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) seemed quite like a coronation event; and given that his new line of business is actually known as Coronation Group, the investiture ceremony appeared, more or less, like its eponym. The investiture, holding at the Conference Hall of the Nigerian Exchange Building, Marina, Lagos, was yet another major event in the series of activities marking the 30th anniversary of the institute and an honour to a man who renowned for his philanthropy and immense contributions to the development of our financial industry. CIS is the only body in the country that trains and certifies Nigerians to perform core professional functions in the securities and investment industry (or capital market, as it is often called). Over the last eight months, it has been celebratory mood, marking its 30th anniversary as a chartered professional organization having been established by Act 105 of 1992. But its forerunner, the Nigerian Institute of Stockbrokers, I should stress, was incorporated two years earlier.

According to Chief Oluwole Adeosun, President & Chairman of Council of CIS, the institute was chartered after only two years of existence ‘because it rose to its responsibility in so short a time and was duly recognized by the federal government as ‘’being worthy of filling the obvious void of a professional certifying body that existed in the Nigerian capital market at the time’’. Before then, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (now named The Nigerian Exchange Group or ‘’NGX’’) had combined the function of training and certification of stockbrokers with its primary duty of a listing and trading platform for the market. Over the years, the institute has identified many Nigerians to honour with its fellowship. General Yakubu Gowon was the first to be invested with honourary fellowship because under him as Head of State, the indigenization program that catalyzed the listing of many companies was begun. Gowon, thus, deepen the growth of the stock market. Eminent investment banker, Atedo Peterside; chief executive of Bank of Industry, Olukayode Pitan and General Ibrahim Babangida have also been invested with an honounary fellowship. It was during the IBB administration that the CIS law was enacted in 1992. Others are Dr. Goodie Ibru; Chief Christopher Ogunbanjo (foremost corporate lawyer and Mustafa Chike-Obi (pioneer chief executive AMCON).

So, why did the institute consider Aig-Imoukhuede, who has already received several laurels from many institutions and the country as a leading banker, investor and philanthropist, worthy of joining these eminent Nigerians? Soon after he retired as the Group chief executive of Access Bank in 2013, he succeeded Aliko Dangote as the President of the Nigeria Stock Exchange. As President of the Exchange, Aig-Imoukhuede initiated series of measures that led to the demutualization of the Exchange which was then a nonprofit organization into a profited-oriented commercial business which it is today. Says CIS President Adeosun ‘’City gentlemen (meaning: capital market operators) will always remember Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede as one President of the NGX that was exceedingly passionate about the demutualization of the entity when it was a non-profit known as The Nigerian Stock Exchange’’. He was also the founding chairman of FMDQ Securities Exchange, another securities exchange, especially in the Fixed Income submarket, no mean feat for successfully serving as the chairmen of two important exchanges.

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Corroborating Adeosun, former Deputy Governor of the CBN, Ernest Ebi, said ‘’Aig has done so much for the Nigerian economy and noted that as a global player, the investiture will spur him up to do more. Ebi is also a director of the Coronation Group. Chief Executive of NGX Group, Oscar Onyema describes Aigboje as a very hard-working Nigerian who leaves nothing to chance. His words: ‘’If need a strategy or you are going to war, you need Aig by your side’’. Ambassador Idaere Gogo-Ogan described the investee as a visionary, strong personality and exceptionally brilliant. Chairman of NGX Group, Dr. Umaru Kwaranga said Aig-imoukhuede and Aliko Dangote ‘’changed the face of capital market in Nigeria’’ while Mrs Ojini Olaghere, a former staff of Access Bank who is also a director of Coronation Group, recalled her experience working with the honoree and said that he is a perfectionist who always leaves a place better than he met it.

With his comments, the awardee held the audience, made up of mostly bankers, capital market professionals, businesspeople, friends and family, spellbound. He started by paying tributes to two of the nation’s greatest stockbrokers, Dr. Gamaliel Onosode and Otunba Michael Subomi Balogun. Onosode passed away in September 2015 while Balogun departed only last month. Aig-Imoukhuede then traced the history of stockbroking and its contributions of stockbroking business to wealth creation, capital accumulation and economic development. ‘’It is stockbrokers who planted the trees of merchant banking, investment banking, investment management, venture capital, etc that have grown into Nigeria’s ecosystem’’, he said, eliciting applause. He then recited a Greek proverb that says: ‘’ A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit’’. His interpretation of this proverb in terms of his place in history was exceptionally captivating. He said: ‘’For me, I understand this to mean that for Nigeria and the African continent to rise to their full potentials their privileged elites must move beyond thinking about the profit they must make for themselves and focus on things that will benefit future generations long after they are gone’’. This is the dream of the Coronation Group, he said, noting that it is meant to be the African equivalent of BlackRocks (owned by Larry Fink) and Berkshire Hathaways (owned by Warren Buffet).

After the investiture ceremony, the dignitaries moved to the trading floor of the Exchange for the traditional bell-ringing which was undertaken by the investee himself, as a mark of honour, not only for his investiture, but also for the issuance of Capital Market Holding License to the Coronation Group by Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC). The Managing Director & Chief Executive of Nigeria Exchange Limited, Mr. Temi Popoola observed that it’s been a long time since the trading floor of the exchange was so full of brokers who came for the bell-ringing, noting that Aig-Imoukhuede is imbued with a convening power. Ever so humorous, the investee brought the house down when he said that with institutions like Coronation Group, the ‘japa’ syndrome plaguing the country would be reversed to ‘pada’.

At the events were Mrs Ofovwe Aig-Imoukhuede; Council members of CIS; Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director & Chief Executive of Access Bank; other directors of Access Bank; directors and staffs of Coronation Group; directors and management team of NGX Group and many other professionals in the industry. I also saw Mrs Evelyn Oputu, the investee’s mother-in-law, who is one of the first female stockbrokers in the country. A former Managing Director and chief executive of bank of Industry (BOI), she is also a director of the Coronation Group. The ceremonies evoked fond memories of my days as a finance journalist as I met some of the nation’s capital market doyens and doyennes such as Kayode Folawo; Mike Osime (Mike was one of those I interviewed regularly in those days); Sonnie Ayere and Elizabeth Ebi.

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