Agama to shrink “time to market” for firms after Senate confirmation – Ogho Okiti

After his Senate confirmation yesterday, the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr. Emomotimi Agama, has set his eyes on shrinking the time it takes for companies to access the market for different forms of capital. The priority to shrink the time to market follows the frustration of many market stakeholders during the regime of Lamido Yuguda where the time to market sometimes extended beyond 12 months. Agama’s priority, according to sources to him is to seek to conclude the process in 14 days. 

Dr. Agama was confirmed as DG SEC by the Senate Committee on Capital Markets, chaired by Senator Osita Izunaso. The committee also cleared the nominations of Frana Chukwuogor as Executive Commissioner (legal and enforcement), Bola Ajomale as Executive Commissioner (Operations), and Samiya Usman as Executive Commissioner (Corporate Services). They were all nominated April 19 by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is seeking the cooperation of the capital market for his US $1 trillion economy. 

In addition to shrinking the “time to market”, Agama is also set to establish very strong market rules to not only ensure minimal infraction but also deal with any form of infraction. According to sources, “the SEC must not only ensure that market players follow the rules of the market, but also that there are in no doubt that any infraction will be punished.” That is the only way to strengthen the market, the source added. The third leg of his priority is capital market education. The view here is that gross ignorance of how the market works is not a catalyst for strong capital market growth. 

To speed up the time it takes for companies to access the market, Agama plans to establish an advisory and business relations office in the SEC. The purpose of the business relations office is to offer prior screening of every proposed offer to ensure that it meets existing rules and regulations of the capital market regulator. Prior experience has shown that one of the delays come from gaps in the applications to SEC and the back and forth on these gaps often mean that companies lose out on access to cheap capital on offer at the capital market. The prescreening process by experts at the business relations office will thus be a great welcome by market participants. 

The confirmation of Dr. Agama means that this the first substantive DG of the SEC to emerge from within the organization since Mounir Gwarzo in 2017. Until his appointment by the President, Agama was the Managing Director of the Nigerian Capital Market Institute (NCMI), a subsidiary of the SEC. Before then, he was the head of Registration, Exchanges, and Market Infrastructure and Innovation, one of the strongest and key departments at the commission.  

In addition to top level management in SEC, Agama was a secondee to the US Securities and Exchange in 2018 after completing an 18-month programme in capital market at the George Washington University in the US. The SEC thus have at the helm this time a stockbroker, an accountant, an economist, after receiving his Ph.D. in economics, with distinction, from Nile University of Nigeria after submitting a dissertation on the links between cryptocurrency operations and macroeconomic variables in Nigeria.

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