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Finance Minister Urges SEC Board to Embrace Innovation in Capital Market Regulation

Finance Minister Edun says SEC needs to adapt to AI and digital currency trends for effective guidance and necessary approvals.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun, has urged the new board of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to embrace innovation to make the agency better prepared to regulate a dynamic capital market.

Edun, who stated this during the inauguration of the board in Abuja, on Friday, expressed excitement at the composition of the board and urged the members to put in their best, be courageous, bold, open to innovation and be willing to accept the challenge of regulating new areas.

A statement issued by SEC stated that the minister disclosed that financial technology and communications were areas fast advancing, adding that with the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital currency, among others, there was a need for the regulator to be knowledgeable to be able to provide guidance and necessary approvals.

“The top minds go into finance, they go into technology because in the basic industries the technology is simple, whether it is steel making or basic manufacturing, fast moving consumer goods etc. Those are settled technology.

” The area that is advancing at a fast pace is financial technology, communications, artificial intelligence, crypto, digital currency, digital transitions as a whole.

“Therefore, you do have to be on your toes.  The good thing is that when a transaction comes, it has to be discernible, understandable to the end investor, it has to be understandable to the issuer, it has to be understandable to the regulator or it won’t get the approval it needs, so that is one comfort I see about the financial market,” he said.

Edun, urged the SEC board to be willing to accept the challenge of regulating in these new areas particularly crypto as they are fast moving complex areas.

He stressed that they also have to watch out for regulatory arbitrage where a company with a portfolio of huge sophisticated transactions now comes and takes the lowest level of registration that they can just so they can say they are licensed and regulated.

“You have been carefully selected for this role, ensure top notch corporate governance practices. Where there are conflicts, they are quickly identified, disclosed and dealt with according to global best practice. Do not be stumbling blocks to people awaiting processes and approvals,” he said.

In his remarks, Chairman of the SEC Board, Mr. Mairiga Katuka, assured the Minister that the new Board would harness their individual and collective expertise, innovation and passion to drive growth in line with the Commission’s dual mandate of developing and regulating a capital market that is fair and efficient.

He said: “The board will pursue a comprehensive agenda aimed at advancing the interest of investors safeguarding market integrity, promoting capital formation and enhancing regulatory oversight.

“The nation’s future economic outlook appears positive, driven by reforms put in place by the current administration including robust inflation management, social protection, macroeconomic stability initiatives and improved private sector development. These initiatives would undoubtedly engender economic growth.”

Katuka, stated that in line with the renewed hope agenda of the current administration, he was optimistic about the future of Nigeria’s securities market, adding that together with diligence, integrity and a shared sense of purpose there is hope of a more prosperous and resilient financial ecosystem.

President Bola Tinubu had on April 19, 2024 approved the appointment of seven persons to the Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

They include Katuka (Chairman of the Board), Mr. Emomotimi Agama as Director-General, Frana Chukwuogor as Executive Commissioner (Legal and Enforcement) and Mr Bola Ajomale as Executive Commissioner (Operations).

Others are Mrs. Samiya Usman as Executive Commissioner (Corporate Services), Mr. Lekan Belo and Mr. Kasimu Kurfi as Non-Executive Commissioners.

Meanwhile, SEC has alerted remembers of the public on some fake social media accounts purporting to be those of Agama. 

According to the Commission, “the SEC has become aware of several fraud attempts targeting the investing public and our online community.

“These scammers are impersonating the Director General of the Commission – Dr. Emomotimi Agama with the aim of luring unsuspecting members of the public into sharing personal information and making unauthorised payments.

“The SEC therefore informs members of the public that neither the Director General nor any staff of the Commission Would request for personal information about their investments through private phone lines, emails or social media handles.

“Official information from the Commission is communicated only through its verified email addresses, website, social media handles, and phone numbers,” the statement added. 

It urged the public to always verify the identity of the person or entity contacting them, adding that if unsure, they should not hesitate to immediately contact the Commission.

Ndubuisi Francis and Kayode Tokede

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