The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) will on Wednesday 24 September, officially install Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede as the President of the Exchange. He will succeed the outgoing president and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.
Aig-Imoukhuede, the man, who is regarded as the most famous alumnus yet of one of Nigeria’s “too-big-to-fail” banks, Tier-1 Access Bank Plc, will begin a tenure that many see as one that will provide a new and energizing chapter for the bourse. This belief is largely founded and driven by the fact that the man, who along with his friend and current Group Managing Director/CEO of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, transformed Access Bank to what it is today, is known for his deep and elaborate application of innovative change management principles, and particularly for bringing an exciting leadership style in his many previous roles at the top, the most famous of which is the transformational leadership that took place in his 12 years at Access Bank.
This enormous ability to create positive changes and bring about rapid progress is often used to describe what has become of Access Bank in the last 12 years, where belief in leadership ability gave the bank a giant leapfrogging momentum to a full-fledged Tier-1 and currently, one of the five biggest banks in Nigeria.
Last week in Sandton, South Africa, at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, who is currently the First Vice President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was on centre stage. On the occasion of the third, Building African Financial Markets Capacity Building Seminar (BAFM), hosted by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and African Securities Exchange Association (ASEA), with the support of the World Bank Group, he presented a keynote address which touched on what seemed like a prelude to what we can expect about the way he thinks the financial markets, particularly stock exchanges should work to create wealth in society.
In the address entitled: Africa Rising – The Role of Securities Exchanges, Aig-Imoukhuede, lawyer, consummate banker and a major player and influential person in the Nigerian economy, could not pass over an opportunity to express the broadness of his thinking about the role of wealth in society and how those who are in positions to act can broaden their intervention in society.
He said: “As children, citizens and businessmen and women of this amazing continent [Africa] that is often referred to as the ‘last frontier’, we can take from others’ experiences, but we must do what is right for the future of our nations and our people.
“The world is getting flatter every day, and with a soaring world population we must facilitate the drive for wealth creation for our own people, while providing the platform to which global savings can be channeled. We must use this opportunity to partner with each other, to enable us further unlock our continent’s growth potential, and advance the development of our financial and capital markets,” he further said.
He talked about opportunities that exist for making impact on society by African stock exchanges, identifying these opportunities for impact in areas such as capital formation, income inequality and the wealth divide, economic policy and planning, sustainability and best practices.
According to him, “By reconsidering our current priorities and building on our knowledge base of models and practices that enable us leapfrog from current third world realities to higher levels of development, we can change the Africa Rising narrative and make it ‘Africa has arrived’,” he said at the event.
This is a mindset that appears to drive many of the works and personal narrative of the man, Aig-Imoukhuede. And for someone who has largely played in the deep end of capitalism, there is a sense in which we see this capitalism sometimes tempered by an interventionist left-of-centre colouration. It is perhaps one of many things responsible for the way he has handled some national assignments that he has taken up in the past, especially when he headed a special ministerial committee and later presidential verification committee on the petroleum subsidy scam of a couple of years ago. In terms of making societal interventions, this ‘deep capitalism with a left-of-centre approach’ can also explain his involvement in some charitable endeavours, including as chairman of Friends of the Global Fund – Africa (Friends Africa).
Aig-Imoukhuede, as chairman of Friends Africa, a partner organization of the Global Fund to fight HIV, Malaria and Tuberculosis, led the Gift from Africa campaign, raising millions of dollars for the Global Fund. He is also co-chairman of the Board of GBC Health and is a founding member of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, which was launched last year to make interventions in health care delivery, with the first focus being to work towards helping in the achievement of key items in the Millennium Development Growth initiative of the United Nations.
He takes a very patriotic interest in Nigeria and believes strongly that Nigeria has the potential to work and can work. In an interview granted sometime ago, he spoke of the country’s potential thus: “Nigeria is a team that has great potential and resources. However, we know that the team is not playing well. The issue is simply that with more effective management, it can go from a great potential case into a fantastic team.
“We have competent managers in many aspects of the Nigerian economy. We have not so competent managers in other aspects of the Nigerian economy,” he summed up.
In the new role as President of The Nigerian Stock Exchange, not a few expect this role to become high profile again, as Aig-Imoukhuede brings on board his usual sagacity to the position. As an executive from the well respected school of active and engaging management, he is expected to bring liveliness to leading one of the biggest players in the Nigerian economy. And because he is a man who understands the enormous responsibilities that are placed on him by the roles that he occupies at any point in his career, Aig-Imoukhuede, will be taking to the Exchange the culture that he has established at Access Bank plc, where there is an established institutional framework and understanding of the place of leadership in organized institutions.
Indeed, there are analysts and students of management that have keenly followed the story of Access Bank who now think that Aig-Imoukhuede‟s ascension to the exalted and enviable position of President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange represents a significant contribution by the bank to the economy. For even though Aig-Imoukhuede exited the bank as Group Managing Director in December 2013, he is seen as a formidable Access Bank alumnus, who carries with him the ethos, the culture and the core values that have been enthroned in the bank over the years, wherever he may go.
These established culture, ethos and core values which are at the heart of the bank‟s rise and impact making footprint in the Nigerian, African and global economies, are often worn like a suit by staff of the bank; from the management suite to the banking hall. For instance, in the time that Aig-Imoukhuede will lead the NSE, it is particularly expected that the values of leadership, excellence, empowerment, passion, professionalism and innovation premised on this culture that is rooted in the bank’s established core values, will be transferred and demonstrated at the Exchange.
As an institution, Access Bank had, either under Aig-Imoukhuede or now under his close ally, Wigwe, been built on these principles. Leadership had been put into practice in the foresight that that the bank has demonstrated in responding to developments in its operating and general business environment. Aig-Imoukhuede once told a team of journalists from BusinessDay last year that the bank was always proactive and created long term scenarios that often positioned it to be first-to-the-post.
“Irrespective of what the industry size was [in 2002] we wanted to rank in the top five. We came up with a clear game plan of how to do this. We used to have a boss who said ‘when your customer says jump, don’t jump, ask your customer: how high? And then jump higher’.
“In 2004, we went to HSBC [in the United Kingdom], before Soludo announced the Soludo solution of consolidation, and asked to be advised on M & A, even though they were not a local adviser, they would not handle the advisory mandate locally; globally they gave us the advice. In a sense, by the time Soludo came up with consolidation as the route to leveraging the banking sector we were ready. When in 2004 Soludo read to us the new game plan and gave us till 31st December 2005, I could see shock on a few faces, but my text message to Herbert was, ‘our dream has come true’.”
So, tomorrow when Aigb-Imoukhuede takes over at the Nigerian Stock Exchange as president, he would be prepared for the tasks ahead because, as the most famous alumnus of Access Bank, it is in his DNA to be prepared for whatever challenges and leadership opportunities come his way. You will expect to see a much broader demonstration of these core values that this bank, which has produced him, is known for.
Analysts would expect to see him demonstrate excellence in the discharge of his leadership duties; they would expect him to take interest in the empowerment of employees at the Exchange, another of the Access Bank core value he helped to entrench; expect to see him be professional and passionate in his dealings as president, values he often demonstrated at Access and which the bank challenges its people to demonstrate on a daily basis, whether in the banking hall or during every other transactional encounters that they find themselves facing daily.
What is unarguably expected by everyone who has examined the professional history of the man and the ascension of Aig-Imoukhuede to the Presidency of the Nigerian Stock Exchange is innovation. Many have often described the leapfrogging that has taken place over the years at Access and said it has been largely down to this particular core value – innovation at every possible opportunity.
With innovation at the heart of development in most major global stock exchanges, the Nigerian Stock Exchange could not be better poised at any time in its history that it would find this at its top burner. It is one thing that Aig-Imoukhuede is going to quickly and seriously bring to bear on the Exchange as he takes over; and throughout his Presidency. Wednesday will indeed, be a coming on board of Access Bank’s most famous alumnus.