Mallam Kasimu Kurfi is the Chief Executive Officer of APT Securities and Funds Limited. In this interview with NGOZI AMUCHE, he bares his mind on the state of the economy. Excerpts:
The level of unemployment is still very high, despite the ‘change’ mantra that heralded the entry of this present administration. What’s your take on this?
Nigeria cannot be transformed overnight. What we are experiencing today is accumulation of bad governance. The ills inflicted on this country are enormous. It is widely accepted that corruption has made the quality of education to ebb and has also aggravated the unemployment rate in Nigeria. The issue of unemployment is on the rise, because we have not done what we are supposed to do as a nation. We must get the right people in the right positions. Then government needs to create more jobs. The youths need to be encouraged to go into agriculture or even entrepreneurial skills, which should also be strengthened.
The Nigerian economy is full of challenges, and that is why the country needs leaders, who understands the potentials we have in this nation. Those leaders must be ready to take the economy to a desired level. We have the raw material and the market. Nigeria is a big player in the world economy; we have the skill and workforce
Some economic experts have criticised the Federal Government intervention policy, especially in the areas of injection of funds into the system. Let’s hear your views on this?
The intervention policy is not totally wrong. It has, to a large extent, alleviated the pains of the manufacturers in the area of making foreign exchange available for them to import raw materials. We also expect some good effects of the intervention policies of government in the local economy to manifest, this year. Overall, we are optimistic that 2017 will be a better year for the economy.
We are hopeful that the year will also usher in improvements in most of these macroeconomic indicators. These will, of course, rub off on the stock market. As oil prices rise we are going to see improvement in our economic activities and of course our reserves. Also, I foresee quality improvement in our non-oil exports next year, which will have positive impact on our economy.
Could you access the economic landscape generally?
The Nigerian economy is full of challenges, and that is why the country needs leaders, who understands the potentials we have in this nation. Those leaders must be ready to take the economy to a desired level. We have the raw material and the market. Nigeria is a big player in the world economy; we have the skill and workforce.
Therefore, we should get the leaders that can transform our potentials. We need to imbibe more in agriculture and encourage our youths to go into agriculture, instead of looking for white collar jobs. Although, we are experiencing serious challenges as a nation, we will overcome them. Nigeria will surprise the world in the near future because I am very optimistic that things will eventually get better.
What is your view on the recent N54 billion pension arrears released by the Federal Government?
Honestly, this is a step in the right direction. This is because the release of the funds would boost economic activities through various investments. Part of the fund would find its way into the bond market, equities market and money market instruments. The development is a good thing because we have many outstanding funds with PenCom; the release of the funds will go a long way in revitalising the economy.
The PFAs, in line with their mandate to divert part of the money to investable incomes, would invest some of it in the market. However, the government must avoid delays in paying pensioners. Some of the beneficiaries could have died before the release of the funds. Pensioners should be paid as and when due for individuals to benefit from it and at the same time to kick-start economic activities.
Some stocks in the primary segment of the market still trades at the minimum value, why is this so?
That is one language that has been misapplied by many. Penny stocks are growing stocks. And to qualify for penny stocks, for instance, it must be a growing stock. If you see a stock that is trading less than N1.00, the questions that should come to your mind are: why is it there? Have the stock been doing well? How long have such stocks been existing in the market? If the stocks have existed for long in the market and they have not been paying dividends very well, they ought not to move beyond that.
By that, such stocks are not qualified for the proper meaning of a penny stock. Penny stocks must have potentials for growth and most of the penny stocks on the Exchange are now growing stocks. They are moving up. And others that are still grappling with issues, majority of them in the insurance subsector is still having issues. If you must buy a particular stock, there is the need for you to ask for the history of its dividend payout, its performances in the market so far and other related findings that would enable you to know more about what and where you intend to invest your money. If there is nothing on ground to show for all these requests, then, there are issues on such stocks. That is why you don’t see them move up quickly. But for those of them that have done fairly well, they have moved up.