‘Nigeria on course to emerge a financial hub like Dubai’

NIGERIA may emerge a world financial hub or international financial centre similar to the Dubai model in less than five years, going by plans by the Financial Systems Strategy (FSS) Coordinating Committee, to execute projects that will upgrade the nation’s investment environment.
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his optimism was raised by the Head, Project Management Office of FSS, Oluwatoyin Jokosenumi, while disclosing strategies being evolved by the body in driving the implementation of the Nigeria’s FSS2020 vision,

Already, Jokosenumi informed that more than 30 per cent of the implementation strategy has been covered just as the committee has, in its recent review, reduced the project implementation projects from 700 to 25, to fast track their actualisation.

He was reacting to inquiries by newsmen on the status of the FSS2020 Vision, which initiative began in 2005 with actual activities flagged off two years later in 2007.

According to him, it was heartwarming that the committee finally had three out of the four bills which have been before the National Assembly, that are necessary for the take-off or the establishment of the International Financial Centre in Nigeria, passed by the seventh National Assembly, which are now awaiting President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent.

The major objective of the Financial System Strategy 2020 (FSS2020) is to integrate reforms in the financial sector and develop a shared vision that would enable the financial system to catalyse growth and help transform Nigeria into one of the 20 largest economies by 2020.

Under the vision, the Nigerian financial system will be modeled to provide unparalleled safety in order to mitigate the perception usually associated with emerging economies, and re-configured with shock-recovery capabilities and sensitivities.

The rate of growth will be measured by clearly defined parameters that would enable Nigeria to become one of the 20 largest economies through the strengthening of the financial system. It is meant to conquer and use the key emerging markets as the initial benchmark. Emerging markets will be as defined by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) such as the BRICs and other such countries.

Now, with just barely five years to the 2020 target and with no seeming physical efforts on ground yet, concerns by financial industry sector operators have been mounting over the prospects of the FSS2020 Vision, especially in the areas of housing and education, among others.

But Jokosenumi, explained: “ We are on course. God is the greatest manager of time. We can plan to move from point A to B but if God does not sanction it, it won’t be possible. And I will not also shy away from telling you the truth that we have lost some time due to some necessary legal requirements.

“But I am happy to inform you that the seventh National Assembly passed three Bills out of the four Bills we presented to them. The assent of those bills is being awaited by President Muhammadu Buhari and once that is done, we are set to progress rapidly, while we represent the other Bill that was thrown out to the 8th National Assembly.

“We may have spent too much time on planning and initiating but I can also tell you that we are not at zero level for execution. For instance, when we started we had about 750 projects outlined. But at our last review of the projects, we reduced them to 25 projects and already we have done 30 per cent. One of such projects, which are already on ground is the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Committee which has already taken off.

“There is a solution for fast tracking the solution within the time that is still left. Five years remaining is a long time. The life of an administration in our country is four years and so much can be done within the life of an administration. So, the available time is more than enough. We are some how delayed because we needed to create laws that are needed to pursue the vision. The first was to establish Nigeria International Finance Centre; the second is to build a Nigerian Financial Ombudsman Body charged with the responsibility for resolving financial related disputes and the third is the Electronic data to be tendered as evidence in Court. These three Bills have been passed and awaiting the President’s Assent.

“Now, as soon as this is done we can begin the other physical implementation. We already have stakeholders’ buy-in for the development of the Nigerian international financial centres, which is like an international market. It gives you opportunity to bring other people around the world to your own environment to do what here what makes them better than you at home and your people learn from them. It’s like the Dubai model because we decided to follow their model, which is called ‘ Engineered Model’. It’s a quarantine environment where international trading takes place without resort to local laws.”

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