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The Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) achieved a major milestone in 2017 when three distinguished former Nigerian Heads of State – Dr Yakubu Gowon, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and Gen Ibrahim Babangida, all accepted the institute’s award of Honorary Fellowship.

A statement from the institute explained the rationale for the awards, all of which were long overdue.

Gen Yakubu Gowon, then as military Head of State took the first major policy decision that fundamentally opened up the Nigerian Capital Market as the hub of capital formation in the economy. The Indigenization Decree of 1972 effectively kick-started the process of returning the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy to Nigerians. With Chief Obafemi Awolowo then as Federal Commissioner of Finance, the decree compelled large companies operating in the country to give a substantial portion of their shares to Nigerians. That was how Nigerians started owning shares in big companies that were hitherto totally or near totally owned by foreigners. That was how Nigerians started owning substantial shares in Nigerian Breweries, Nestle, Flour Mills, First Bank, Union Bank, African Petroleum, etc.

Apart from empowering Nigerians, the other important effect of the indigenization policy was the catalytic impact on the growth of The Nigerian Stock Exchange where majority of the share were transfered. Truly, Nigeria’s economy owes much to the promulgation of the Indigenization Decree of 1972 and the follow up in 1977.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is probably Nigeria’s most respected elder statesman still alive. He has been in office as President of the world’s most populous nation three times. The first was a fortuitous occurrence, being a consequence of the assassination of his boss, Gen Murtala Ramat Muhammed in 1976, but the latter two occasions saw him being democratically elected by popular mandate of the Nigerian populace.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, fondly called ‘OBJ’ by his admirers, took a lot of far reaching positive decisions while in office. He had the rare vision and courage to clear off the entire foreign debt stock of the Federal Government, getting in return substantial waivers and savings for the country. Working with the best Nigerian brains identified and brought back from several parts of the world (notably Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Nasir El Rufai, Dr Abraham Nwankwo, among others), Chief Obasanjo successfully revived the then moribund Nigerian bond market which in recent years has become the last resort for government in terms of raising billions of naira to fund budget deficits and infrastructure investment.

The press dubbed Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida ‘Maradona’ because he was a military President who ruled with the vision, tact and guile of a civilian. The Structural Adjustment Programme may have had its controversies, but it successfully unbundled the Nigerian financial system from the stiffness of military autocracy. It created the platform for investors from all over the world to come to Nigeria and do business. It effectively placed Nigeria as a veritable investment destination for the global business community.

It was Gen Babangida who had the vision and deemed it expedient to create a special body that will take responsibility for training and certificating professionals practicing in the Nigerian Capital market. That was how the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) came into being as a Federal Government – chartered institution in 1992, with the broad responsibility of developing professional skills in the Capital market, and generally fostering capital market literacy in Nigeria.

In abeyance to the eminent status of these three great leaders, CIS decided that their official investiture ceremonies will be held separately. The first of the ceremonies was held at the institute’s 2017 Annual National Conference in Lagos, when Dr Yakubu Gowon was presented with his award of Honorary Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers.

Gen Gowon was full of life during event, while his acceptance speech was copiously laced with rib cracking jokes and sweet memories of his time in office. One line that particularly got me reeling was

“I remember when Oluwaseyi Abe (CIS President) visited me to announce the conferment of this award. The delegation was made up of powerful corporate giants with billions of shares around them that ordinarily I should have been intimidated. However, they failed in that respect because they forgot that I am a Sandhurst trained Field Marshal who cannot be easily outflanked by the mere presence of corporate heavyweights !”

Gen Yakubu Gowon’s investiture, even though held in a CIS membership event, still attracted a full house of corporate giants and opinion leaders in Nigeria. The investitures of Gen Ibrahim Babangida and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo will come up later this year.

Another important personality that was conferred with the Honorary Fellowship of the CIS is corporate pace setter, Aliko Dangote. Details of all the impending investiture ceremonies will be published on this page.

The article above represents, in its entirety, the personal opinion of the writer.

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