Tambuwal seeks financial autonomy for state assemblies
IN a move to reverse the negative fortunes of the Nigeria Capital Market, the House of Representatives yesterday announced plans to compel some multinational firms in the Energy and Telecommunications sectors to be listed on the bourse of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
The House Committee on Capital Market said it would urge the Lower Chamber to pass a law that would get power generation and distribution companies listed on the NSE once the process of their privatisation is completed.
Consequently, a new legislation is in the works to make it mandatory for firms in designated sectors of the economy to get listed on the bourse of the NSE.
Also, Speaker of the House, Aminu Tambuwal, has called on the Speakers of state Houses of Assembly to ensure that financial autonomy for state legislature was included in the proposed amendment of the Constitution in order to guarantee greater independence and efficiency of the state Houses of Assembly.
Tambuwal stated this following indication that the House is set to start another constitution review process, which the Speaker said would help to stabilise the country’s democracy.
Addressing a workshop for Speakers of the 36 states Houses of Assembly in Abuja yesterday, the Speaker noted that lack of financial autonomy for state assemblies has reduced them to mere appendages of governors, which has further whittled down the powers of the state legislature.
Tambuwal, who was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, regretted that while the National Assembly demonstrated a commitment to granting state assemblies financial independence during the last constitution amendment process, some state assemblies, through the under-hand tactics of their governors, frustrated the exercise.
And Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has called for the reform and restructuring of key institutions in the country to deepen democracy and restore public confidence in governance.
Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the two-day workshop of the Conference of Speakers of state Houses of Assembly in Abuja yesterday, Fayemi identified the institutions requiring reforms to include the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Judiciary, security agencies and political parties.
He stated that the stability of Nigeria as a country and the practice of democracy were being threatened by the brand of federalism currently practised in the country, “with over-concentration of power and resources at the centre.”
The House Committee on Capital Market, at a media briefing in Abuja, hinted that the NSE would be propped to “speed up its reforms process and become more like its counterparts in other economies in the world by adjusting its business and economic models from being only a source of raising capital for listed firms to one that creates economic linkages in the resident country.”
Chairman of the Committee, Herman Hembe, who read its statement, said the country was losing huge amount of money it ought to make if these firms were listed on the NSE as obtainable in other countries.
He added: “This committee will partner with relevant stakeholders to speed up the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill to foster subsequent listing of major upstream players like the NNPC and all other operators in oil and gas sector.
“This will imply ownership of these companies by Nigerians and subsequently diminish the secrecy and massive fraud that is associated with the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
“What needs to be done in Nigeria is very clear to us and the consensus is that the reforms we have planned will address the development gaps as observed.”
Lamenting the state of the Nigeria Capital Market, the committee said: “The market in Nigeria is in a state none of us can be proud of. The All-Share Index was 57,990.22 points by December 31, 2007. In that year, market capitalisation was N13.29 trillion. But over 300 listed securities on the exchange had by 2011 witnessed a 56 per cent decline of 20,202.50 points. Market capitalisation value has also fallen to N6.44 trillion.”