Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, former chief executive officer of Access Bank Plc, is taking a new kid to the investment market. Last week, the former bank chief executive launched the Coronation Capital, an African investment company that would provide long term development capital in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa.

To create awareness about the investment company to the business community organized its launching ceremony along with an inaugural lecture in Lagos. The lecture which was delivered by Aig-Imoukhuede was titled: “The Fourth Republic: Economy and opportunities beyond politics.” It dwelt on critical assessment of the trends in Nigeria’s economy since the return to civilian rule in 1999.

The report showed that Nigeria has recorded an exponential economic growth since 1999: from a GDP base of $36 billion in 1999, which then ranked Nigeria as the fifth largest economy in Africa, to a $522 billion economy in 2013, the largest in Africa by a significant margin and 1,350 per cent growth over 15 years.

Similarly, in terms of debt reduction, it stated that Nigeria’s debt profile today compares very favourably with that of 1999 when the country’s external and internal debt profile represented 87 per cent of GDP as compared to 18.32 per cent in 2013.

Furthermore, it noted that “Improvements in monetary policy, combined with the consolidation process in the banking sector have led to a considerably stronger banking sector. The CBN Act of 2007 instituted the CBN’s operational independence which enabled its leadership to swiftly and effectively resolve the 2009 banking crisis.”

In terms of budget discipline Aig-Imoukhuede explained that the oil price benchmark in the budget, combined with a budget deficit ceiling of 3% and the privatisation of state assets all contributed to significant improvements during the period.  “An impressive foreign direct investment (FDI) profile could be regarded as one of the clear benefits of the return to democracy in Nigeria. FDI has grown tremendously and the Nigerian economy has continued to show the capacity to attract investment despite currently adverse security conditions in some parts of the country,” he said.

Announcing the establishment of Coronation Capital and the launch of the report, Aig-Imoukhuede said that the performance of the Nigerian economy continues to defy conventional wisdom given its many challenges. “This is a reflection of the strength of its underlying fundamentals which have caused it to thrive despite the numerous challenges it has faced. From a position, in 1999, where the economy was at rock bottom and only the 5th largest in Africa, to today’s position as the largest economy on the continent we have seen immense change. But there is much work to do to ensure that change continues, and reaches all corners of society.”

He added that his own professional history has been heavily influenced and guided by the economic progress Nigeria has made since the return to democracy. His words: “From my banking career at Guaranty Trust Bank, through to my leadership of Access Bank, my career has mirrored the progress of Nigeria’s financial services sector and exposed me to each of the core sectors of the economy that have driven wider growth. That experience has left me as a fully-fledged believer in a macro-economic approach to investment in Nigeria and is the driving force behind the establishment of Coronation Capital; an African focused proprietary investment company operating to the highest standards of investment management.”

He noted that Coronation Capital will leverage that experience to invest across the specific sectors of the Nigerian economy that would have the potential to grow exponentially over the coming years. “We believe in the power of capital to act as a significant catalyst for long term economic growth and the creation of social value and we are committed to investing for the long term.”

Dr. Doyin Salami of the Lagos Business School described the report as the first fully independent analysis of the progress of the Nigerian economy since the return to democratic rule. “It is informative that when you strip out the political rhetoric and look at the basic fundamentals the progress that has been made is clear. Yes, more could, and should have been done, but the Nigerian economy has not only evolved and matured, but grown at a rate almost unmatched globally. If a country so dominated by political instability and rhetoric, while lacking basic infrastructure can do this, then the potential it holds following the first transition from one party to another is even more significant,” Dr Salami said.

By Dike Onwuamaeze

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