About eight days before his death, Albert returned my earlier call that day, and we spoke for about an hour.

As usual, his optimistic self was on display.

We spoke about the plans he was putting together to return his firm, BGL Plc to the market.

Unfortunately, he will not be able to follow through on those plans.

As the “Binis put it ed’uwu..iofo (death forecloses all thinking, and plans…).

Albert was a charismatic fellow, straightforward and jovial. He was full of life in his approach. I never met a more optimistic person. Everything was always looking up for him, no matter what the situation.

Albert’s presence is immediately felt when he came into any gathering. He was level headed and unpretentious. In all my dealings with Albert, I always felt happier when I left him.

I first met Albert, some 25 plus years ago, when he worked for Centre-Point Investments. I became close to him after his election as chairman, Governing Board of the Association of Issuing Houses of Nigeria (AIHN), where I was also elected Director of Finance.

AIHN is the association of investment bankers in Nigeria, with membership drawn from across the capital market- Banking and Non-Banking institutions in the market.

In his characteristic bombastic manner, at our first meeting as an Executive Committee, Albert immediately announced that he has changed his title from President, to Chairman of the Board, and other committee members- Directors.

That was Albert, dictatorial with things he wanted done. Truth be told, he was a pleasant person to work with, our team under his leadership was able to elevate AIHN to its pride of place. He knew his strength, and used it well to achieve results. We embarked on expanding the influence of AIHN to have strong input into the rules that governed the primary side of the capital market.

During his tenor, we also succeeded in putting AIHN on a solid financial standing, an enviable height the Association still enjoys till date.

Albert did not only become a fundraiser for the Association, he was also aggressive about it. He will put a call to a chief Executive of a Bank, for example, and says to him: “we are not only asking you to pay your dues to the association, I also wanted to inform you, that I have apportioned N1m as donation to the Association from your Bank.”

Albert was mostly responsible for the success we recorded at that period.

In the last few years, he became a victim of the harsh regulatory environment in which everyone operates in Nigeria. In his case, it was even more so, when he came face to face with a vindictive regulator, who seeking to play police.

His firm, BGL Plc, was a top player in the Nigerian capital market, with an array of talents, and as with everything Albert, he was bullish on the stock market, unfortunately the market crash of 2008/2009 strained BGL Plc’s operations.

There was nothing wrong with BGL Plc as a firm that could not be fixed. As far as I know… if it is finance… it could have been fixed.

BGL Plc raised billions as a firm for other companies on the capital market, including many of the banks that were successfully recapitalized in 2005/2006.

The problem was the high handedness, and the stretching of the rules to fit purpose. The overreaction that followed, was all about proving, a strong-regulator mindset.

BGL Plc had the capacity and required talent to recover and do well.

The famed US securities firms Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, will not be here today if their regulator decided to close down every firm for infractions of its rules. Fines are the preferred option. Worst case scenario, they could have enabled a merger with another firm to preserve value.

Nigerian regulators have long abandoned their roles as enablers in the market and have long chosen to be the policing agency. These interventions have always left the market poorer, because they do not take into consideration the disruptions to the market infrastructure that these firms represent.

They do not consider investors’ interests in these firms, nor did they bother about the damage done to employees whose careers are severely damaged due to these unwarranted actions. Investor confidence in the general market place is always affected.

In the case of BGL Plc, till date, no one has proven any fraud to the best of my knowledge.

A more conducive regulatory approach, could have seen the systemic significance of such a firm as BGL Plc. Just imagine if the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) decided to close down every bank that had challenges during the 2008/2009 Market crisis.

Saving BGL could have done a lot of good to the market and the firm’s specific Investors. This was even more so, when 2/3 of its creditors had agreed to convert the debt owed them into equity, but unfortunately, the regulator insisted on its pound of flesh.

The regulator could have educated the public on the difference between a “Private placement,“ and an “Initial Public Offer (IPO),” instead of openly hounding firms who raised funds through “Private Placement” for not listing their shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. This, they claimed amounted to some kind of fraud, without ever providing any proof.

But even if it was true in a few cases, it was not true in majority of the cases.

There are Rules now to regulate the raising of funds by “Private Placements.” This will be unworkable at best, because there is nothing to regulate in a “Placement“of shares of Private Companies.

Raising equity money to build a business, prove its model, before selling ownership to the wider investing public is the right thing to do. This is not a crime.

Simply put, SEC has no power over “Private Placements.“ That is an example of over regulation. It has only succeeded in blocking a major source of IPOs for market listing.

Albert, has gone to his maker, he will be judged by his deeds on earth. For those of us who knew him well, we know he was a good man and He did his best. 

Good bye Albert, my loyal friend.