Nigerian Regulators Remove Prominent Stock Market Leaders

August 6, 2010

Nigerian Securities and Exchange regulators have recently fired two of their most prominent officials of the turbulent stock exchange in the West African nation of Nigeria.

In an effort to restore faith in Nigeria’s stock exchange among foreign investors, the Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission fired Director General Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke and pressured Aliko Dangote, reportedly the richest man in Nigeria, to leave his position of President of the exchange.

Nigerian Commission Leader Arunma Oteh stated that the reorganization of leadership was the result of, “several allegations of financial impropriety and corporate governance lapses” within the inner operations of the organization.

Oteh added, “The allegations purport that the exchange is insolvent and may soon face bankruptcy and it will not be able to meet its financial obligations.”  She also announced that state regulators would soon investigate the Nigerian market’s finances in order to report on whether the exchange’s debts can be fulfilled.

Former Director Okereke-Onyiuke is regarded as a prominent business leader who has been with the exchange since 1983.  Okereke-Onyiuke’s business practices have already been questioned.  She was investigated by Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency for her efforts in organizing a huge fundraiser to encourage African support for Barack Obama’s campaign for President in 2008.

No criminal charges have yet been filed against Okereke-Onyiuke.  Nigerian officials are currently probing into the case of whether the raised funds were delivered to the Obama campaign in violation of the United States’ electoral laws.

The commission forced out Dangote with a lawsuit that challenged his presidency, stated Oteh.  Listed by Forbes magazine as the third richest man in sub-Saharan Africa, Dangote has and estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.  His self-titled company, the Dangote Group, has many investments, including sugar, textiles, and cement.  Although regarded has secretly having ownership in the English Premier League Club Arsenal, Dangote denied any investment in the team.

The Lagos Stock Exchange originated in 1969, the same year that Nigeria became independent from Britain.  Later named the Nigerian Stock Exchange, its traded businesses comprise a wide range of industries, including oil and retail goods.

In 1999, Nigeria finally shook loose its military dictatorships, which enticed savvy investors that were entering new markets throughout Africa.  Although Nigeria was regularly regarded as widely corrupt in both the public and private sectors, investment still increased.  The prosperity came to a screeching halt with a stock market crash that dropped equity prices 70% from their high in March of 2008.

As the global economy as stalled, the Nigerian Stock Exchange has continued to be troubled, resulting in the federal government bailing out five banks for a total of $2.55 billion.