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by Dr Nicky Okoye

Mar 02, 2015



So much depends on what the National or Federal Government decides to do in terms of policy. A great Government policy on foreign investment can stimulate the economy, create new jobs and set the country on a path of prosperity. This has been experienced with the way Japan and United States took off economically in the sixties and seventies. And in the same vein, a bad policy on foreign investment can equally destroy a Nation’s economy as it did with Zimbabwe in the nineties and early part of the 2000s. When hyperinflation ate deep into that country’s economy, due to President Mugabe’s economic policy on redistribution of farm lands.

I served as the Chief Strategy Officer of the Nigeria Stock Exchange from 2001 to 2006, and I remember very clearly giving a presentation to the Executive Management and National Council of the Nigeria Stock Exchange at that time in which I proposed that the Stock Exchange as an institution should have a much closer relationship with the Federal Government of Nigeria. I argued that we could influence Federal Government Policy, in regards to investment, and that will in turn drive the growth of the Stock market. I pointed out to my board and management, that China achieved monumental growth in the 1980s due largely to the fact that the Chinese citizens were able to achieve a 60% saving rate. That means that 60% of all personal incomes were saved all over China every single year.  And this provided the investment needed for the economic miracle we all know as China today. I proposed that we could institute a forced savings scheme, in Nigeria, if we couldn’t convince Nigerians to save naturally. I shared with them the value of a forced savings scheme which could mobilize trillions of naira for investment, which would find its way to the capital markets. The good news is they listened and we were asked to design a strategy and implement it.

We were lucky that the Federal Government led by President Obasanjo at that time was also thinking of starting a contributory Pension scheme, so our goals, our objectives and paths were in alignment. Whereas President Obasanjo set up a Federal Government Committee to prepare the Pension bill which was headed by Fola Adeola, I was asked to head over to the National Assembly on behalf of the Nigerian Stock Exchange to make the case for a national savings strategy which could equally be the Pension reform agenda proposed by the Fola Adeola Committee. So, working together but separately, the Nigerian Stock Exchange as an institution and the Federal Government through its Pension Reform Committee, supporting the drafting of a legislative document that eventually became the Pension reform Act of 2004/2005. The National Pension Commission was created and the rest is history. Pension reform, a single Federal Government policy has over the years been able to mobilize over ten trillion Naira in national savings from working Nigerians and there is no end in sight. As it will keep mobilizing funds and savings for as long as there are people living and working in Nigeria. That is the power of Government policy

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