By Omobayo Azeez
Following the order of a lockdown of Lagos, Ogun states and the federal capital territory by the federal government, the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has activated the second phase of its business continuity plan.
The bourse floated the plan to sustain activities at the exchange despite the declared curfew by the highest authority in the country in its efforts to curtail further spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The plan involved provision of accommodation of technical and principal worker at the exchange to ensure that remote trading, as earlier activated by the bourse, is sustained and other operations at the NSE run unimpeded to help the investing public take informed decisions.
Recall that the federal government had announced restriction of all movements in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the FCT for an initial period of 14 days effective 11:00 pm on March 30, 2020, to stem the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria.
Oscar Onyema, chief executive officer of the NSE said the ability of the financial and money markets in the country to continue to operate during this crisis is a testament to a well-functioning economy.
He said, “That is why the statement put out today by the Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria that they have received presidential approval to include the Financial System and Money Markets in the list of exempted services from the lockdown of Lagos and Ogun States and the FCT is vital.
“Given this new pronouncement, we will sustain our remote trading activities at normal hours and days, in line with the guidance provided by the World Federation of Exchanges.”
He said to comply with government directive, “we have activated the second phase of our business continuity plan that will see our essential staff move into a secured accommodation close to our offices with adequate arrangements for healthcare and other matters necessary to their wellbeing.”
Onyema however stressed that access to the NSE offices will be restricted to these essential staff who will ensure smooth remote trading and provide remote technical support to dealing members, adding that it will also continue to provide remote access to listed companies and issuers during this period.
“While we hope for a quick end to this pandemic, we encourage everyone to maintain precautions, take responsibility for others by observing social distancing and practicing personal hygiene.
“Most importantly, we advise that you comply with guidelines issued by relevant health agencies of government towards curtailing the spread of the virus in our beloved country.
“Once again, we assure all our stakeholders that The Exchange is open for business remotely. Should you need to engage with us on any matter, please reach out to us via e-mail, X-Issuer, X-Boss, X-Whistle, telephone, our website or any of our other digital and social platforms,” Onyema further stated.
Earlier, the Lagos State Government had imposed a seven-day ‘slow down’ of non-essential services in the State, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020.
The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) had been supportive of these steps, which are aimed at flattening the rising curve of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, by activating the first phase of the business continuity plan on March 23, 2020.
With the initial plan, it continued trading during normal hours and days by providing remote trading access for dealing member firms through FIX Protocol and Virtual Private Network (VPN) platforms; commenced remote working for our non-essential staff nationwide; closed our trading floors nationwide; maintained continuous flow of relevant market information to enable stakeholders to make informed investment decisions; and engaged with government to address market issues raised by COVID-19.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, financial markets, particularly the capital markets around the world have seen levels of volatility that are only comparable to the global financial crisis of 2007/2008.