Mr. Sola Oni, a former spokesman of the Nigerian Inventory Change, a journalist, stockbroker and Managing Director/CEO, Sofunix Funding & Communication Restricted. On this interview, he speaks about his skilled expertise, capital market amongst others. Goddy Egene presents the excerpts:
How will you describe your expertise as a journalist?
Thrilling. Journalism is a demanding occupation. It positions you to work around the clock and meet with the excessive, medium and low members of the society. A reporter can put a Head of State on defensive via essential questions. Profession of a journalist is surrounded by deadlines.
It’s a noble occupation. Everybody recognises the presence of a journalist at any gathering. The occupation calls for a excessive stage of integrity and abilities, particularly information judgment and writing. A journalist communicates to the mass of individuals. His story have to be crafted in a approach that it’s comprehensible by everybody throughout all lessons. Because of this it’s known as mass communication. A journalist should make sure that all sides of any challenge are verified earlier than making the story public. There are necessities that one should attain to be known as knowledgeable journalist. I began my journalism profession at Yola-based Nationwide Spectator Information Journal. I later moved to The Guardian. When The Guardian was proscribed by the Federal Authorities in 1993, I had a stint with DBN Tv as a pioneer Senior Information Analyst however I went again to The Guardian when it was opened.
As a younger boy, had been there indicators for that you’d turn into a journalist?
The reply is within the affirmative. I really like to precise myself as a baby and put issues in perspective throughout the restrict of my age and expertise and publicity. I grew as much as have particular curiosity in studying, talking and writing. Earlier than I began major faculty, my father had taught me some widespread English phrases, anticipated of a kid of my age. As an undergraduate, I used to be an energetic member of my Press Membership, Phoenix Press Membership, which was considered militant on the campus as a result of we now have core and partial ideologues who can criticize something and rattling the consequence. Once I was in 300 Degree, I turned the Chairman of our Editorial Board. I loved writing an editorial which is is the place of the journal on any challenge. That is the spirit that I took to my NYSC programme as earlier defined.
What was your motivation for training journalism?
Self-expression. The occupation opens doorways for one to take part in nation constructing. The press is known as the Fourth Property of the Realm after the Govt, Legislative and Judiciary. The occupation brings you in touch with choice makers in the private and non-private sector.
Journalists form opinions via Agenda Setting Principle. However they have to uphold the Social Duty Principle of the Press. There are fashions of communication, together with threat communication. Journalists are wanted in all places. Initially, I studied English Training at my Bachelor’s Diploma, mixed honours and later proceeded to check Monetary Journalism and ended with Grasp’s Diploma in Enterprise Administration. Aside from integrity that could be a should for all professionals, a journalist will need to have writing abilities and a excessive sense of reports judgment, the one attorneys name authorized opinion. Journalism is an eclectic occupation. This explains why those that cowl well being sector will not be Medical practitioners and people within the monetary market needn’t be finance specialists. Journalism as a occupation has some core programs that have to be supplied to qualify one to report any sector. However in follow, journalism like different professionals have specialisation . We’ve got monetary journalists, political journalists, sports activities journalists, and so forth Journalism is an elitist occupation however demanding. It’s exhausting to practise journalism in Nigeria due to the circumstances of service.
Those that excel within the occupation genuinely adore it. Journalists are wanted in all places even throughout warfare. Journalism is like lecturers. You both publish or perish. Journalists want fixed coaching due to frequent modifications in all sectors.
What led to your choice to exit the occupation?
I by no means exited journalism (laughs). Once I left The Guardian for The Nigerian Inventory Change in 1997, a part of my job capabilities was to liaise with the accredited monetary journalists on behalf of The Change.
For the primary few months on the NSE, I used to be writing a column for The Guardian on Sunday titled The KERNEL. It focuses on the monetary market. There was a time that some senior stockbrokers reported me to my Deputy Director Normal, Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyuike that I insulted stockbrokers in one among my writings and The Change ought to ban me from writing the column. My boss informed me and we each laughed. She mentioned: “ I informed them that why must you inform a Medical Physician to not contact syringe. Don’t you all know that this man is a journalist earlier than we employed him ? .” Later, attributable to elevated workload, particularly, investor schooling, I needed to drop the column. All through my profession on the alternate, together with after I was moved to Market Operation as a Unit Head, I nonetheless maintain tab on the media. In the mean time, I write a column for Vanguard on the Monetary Market and I publish an On-line Newspaper, The Kernel.
You might have at all times emphasised capability construct for monetary journalists?
Sure. That is very expensive to my coronary heart. Monetary Journalists want common coaching. The monetary market is technical and as such, monetary press should perceive the market so as to report professionally.
Inventory market is information-driven. A single jaundiced report can convey down the value of an organization’s shares considerably. The coaching needs to be collectively executed at common intervals by each the market regulators and operators. The price of unprofessional report back to the market and quoted firms and shareholders is large. The altering market dynamics, emergence of extra securities exchanges and commodities exchanges, introduction of latest merchandise, together with derivatives digital securities have made journalists’ coaching a should. I need to commend the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) for awarding scholarships to a few of the capital market correspondents to pursue Diploma in Securities and Funding. It would go a great distance in bridging the information hole.
What challenges did you encounter once you joined the Nigerian Inventory Change as an Assistant Supervisor in 1997?
It wasn’t a lot of a problem. I’ve been reporting the monetary marketplace for The Guardian lengthy earlier than I joined The Change. A part of my job on the alternate was to answer media enquiries because the spokesman.
I used to be closely concerned in instructing college students on schooling go to concerning the market and the way they will turn into shareholders and stockbrokers. I used to be additionally concerned in making presentation throughout go to to quoted firms, church buildings, mosques, membership homes and so forth to unfold the gospel of funding.
Nevertheless, what I can time period as challenges embody managing the media to make sure optimistic tales on the alternate, the key problem on this regard is the curb reporters. They’re prepared to put in writing something no matter technical errors. At occasions, you must go additional miles so that you’re not misquoted. It’s important to begin explaining the fundamental ideas to forestall them from sending unsuitable indicators to the general public attributable to weak background in market dynamics. This group of journalists are hungry for by-lines in any respect value. However skilled journalists make life simpler as they can’t afford to mess up their names via mediocre tales. However the problem with this group is their entry to delicate info due to they’ve prime stage sources. I’ve to handle them and so they typically accuse me that in my days no one can kill my story. As a spokesman, you don’t have any opening and shutting time. Throughout controversial points, I can obtain a cellphone name at 1.00 am other than quite a few textual content messages. It’s important to handle the media by making info obtainable on the proper time. When Professor Okereke-Onyuiike emerged the Director Normal, it was a brand new mannequin of media administration. She educated in america and as such solutions reporters’ questions extensively. This additionally has its challenges. I truly loved speaking to her after I was in The Guardian. The issue about journalists is that you simply don’t know when you’re giving them delicate info. I’ve to handle my Boss. However on the general, I loved the co-operation of my colleagues within the media. I work together with all departments at The Change and this broadened my information of the market.
Why did you turn into a stockbroker ?
In 1992, The Guardian posted me to cowl the NSE. Previous to the interval, I had reported the monetary marketplace for The Guardian. I had additionally reported the Central Financial institution of Nigeria (CBN), the hub of cash market.
Throughout my days at The Guardian, I used to be at some extent an in-house Funding Adviser and Portfolio Supervisor for my Editors and colleagues, church and membership members and so forth. At that time, I used to be a stockbroker by affiliation. I later determined to diversify my occupation and this led to my writing the skilled examination of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS). Upon completion, I certified as a chartered stockbroker. This has totally positioned me out there as I belong to each side, the media and the monetary market.
How did the altering political local weather of the nation within the flip of the millennium affect the efficiency of Nigerian shares, if in any respect?
The inventory market is a barometer for the economic system. If the market is working at variance with the economic system, one thing is unsuitable. The worldwide monetary disaster of 2007 and 2008 took toll on the alternate like every other market and full restoration has not been achieved on our market. The market has skilled a number of rounds of volatility. It’s a part of each market dynamics. International buyers at all times convey their sizzling cash to our market due to its potential for prime return on funding (ROI). Valuation on our market is comparatively low and this makes the market enticing. However uncertainties on the stage of polity, economic system and safety have persistently dampened investor confidence and discouraged non-public fairness from collaborating successfully in the marketplace. COVID-19 pandemic and its related challenges in all spheres of human actions haven’t helped issues. Nevertheless, if the federal government will get its bearings in turning across the economic system and managing different layers of uncertainties, the market will rebound steadily. Demutualisation of the alternate will improve its viability. It’s commendable that the present administration of the Change continues with the lofty mission which commenced throughout our administration. Most members of World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) have both demutualised or on the superior stage of demutualization. It would change the alternate’s governance and processes. Standing of Affiliation of Securities Dealing Homes (ASHON) will change. We hope it won’t create an oligopoly within the medium to very long time. It is because the few Dealing Member Corporations with deep pocket can swallow others. But when the rules of Securities and Change Fee (SEC) on demutualisation is strictly adhered to, the corporations that got here on board on the youth of the market won’t all go into extinction. All tiers of presidency ought to benefit from the capital market to entry medium and long run fund for improvement tasks. It has been executed severally previously. The Federal Authorities not too long ago raised over N200 billion from the market via Sukuk 1 and 11 to finance over 26 roads within the six geo-political areas.
How did you handle your work schedule when because the Head of Company Communications you later mixed it as Head, Market Administration Unit within the Operation Directorate of the alternate ?
Following Accenture’s Report on restructuring of the alternate in 2009, I used to be deployed to Market Operations, a core Division for upward profession development. The Director Normal mentioned I ought to mix the brand new place with my present one till The Change hires a brand new head of Company Communication. I used to be in a position to handle each. Certainly one of my main capabilities because the Head of Market Administration Unit was to observe the online place within the buying and selling accounts of Dealing Member Corporations forward of day by day buying and selling. There wasn’t a lot of hurdles. I represented my quick Boss within the Market Operation, Mr. Binos Yaroe(Now a Senator) to open the market about 4 occasions.
You performed a key function within the NSE’s Investor Training Programme. What did that entail?
Investor Training is the method of instructing and studying about rewards and dangers of funding in securities. The Change sponsored one among our Normal Managers, Mr. Kene Okafor and I to Stockholm Inventory Change in Europe for Investor Training someday in 2000. We interacted with the officers of Stockholm Inventory Change on how their market was demutualized being one of many earliest Exchanges that demutualised. Amsterdam Inventory Change was the primary on the earth.
Investor Training focuses on the significance of the market, the merchandise, roles of operators and regulators and the way buyers can entry the market at particular person and company ranges amongst others. The Nigerian Inventory Change designs the programme for various ranges of buyers, together with major faculty pupils. With out buyers, there is no such thing as a inventory market. The Change’s Officers and a stockbroker make presentation and thereafter allowed the visiting group to look at buying and selling. For different classes, The Change’s workforce pays go to to quoted firms, church buildings, mosques, membership homes and so forth. to make presentation.
The programme is without doubt one of the methods to develop investor base.
How would you price public enlightenment on shares in Nigeria? What are the components accountable for this?
It may be higher. The present three million retail buyers and fewer than three per cent grownup participation out there in a rustic of about 200 million individuals will not be heartwarming. There has not been vital distinction from the place we left ten years in the past. Much more needs to be executed to draw potential buyers into the market. Nevertheless it shouldn’t be the only obligation of the alternate and SEC. The whole market ecosystem ought to take it extra critically.
What will be executed to enhance consciousness on shares?
Training is essential. Monetary inclusion of 48 per cent in the meanwhile is low. Efforts needs to be geared in direction of sustained monetary literacy. The engagement shouldn’t be the only accountability of the Securities and Change Fee (SEC) and the alternate alone. Market operators ought to be a part of palms. I consider that SEC’s Monetary Literacy Committee of which, Mrs. Toyin Sanni is the Chairman is working alongside this path. Monetary literacy stage must be deepened. One other technique to develop investor base in our monetary market is to introduce some funding merchandise that reduces the purpose of entry into the market. A few of our stockbroking corporations are already arising with such inventive merchandise.
Was your instructional function within the NSE accountable for your choice to begin SOFUNIX Worldwide Colleges?
No. SOFUNIX Worldwide Colleges which comprise SOFUNIX Nursery and Main Faculty and SOFUNIX Worldwide School had been established out of our need to supply well-rounded college students via improvement of the three domains of studying: Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor.
The School has recorded some observe information inside its comparatively few years of existence. The Colleges place premium on excessive educational customary and ethical values. Lately, one among our former Head Boys, Mr. Adeshina Badejo, made First Class Honours in Petroleum and Fuel Engineering on the College of Lagos. Most of the former college students have additionally distinguished themselves in varied professions.
Do you suppose press freedom is a actuality in Nigeria?
The idea of press freedom is relative. Part 39 (1) of Nigeria’s Structure ensures freedom of expression. The Press has constitutional roles. Its basic function is to tell, educate and entertain. The query of press freedom is the extent that the press can train the constitutional function with out repression from the federal government officers who really feel enraged by the kind of info that the press make public. The press is obliged to train skilled judgment of accuracy of info and getting all the edges to each story.
However there had been cases in Nigeria the place journalists had been detained, maimed or pay supreme loss of life for exercising the constitutional capabilities. Nevertheless, we should additionally admit that the problem of pretend information is changing into extra prevalent with the arrival of social media the place all manners of individuals all of a sudden turn into ‘journalists’. Each the Press and the federal government ought to train restraint of their interplay as they carry out complementary roles. Press freedom exists however it isn’t absolute wherever on the earth. We will solely discuss diploma of press freedom in several nations. By international rating, in 2020, the ten nations with the best stage of press freedom are: Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Switzerland, New Zealand and Portugal. In the identical interval, Nigeria is ranked 115 out of 180 nations in World Press Freedom Index. Press freedom in Nigeria will not be but Uhuru. We’d like Press freedom to deepen our democracy.