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Oscar Onyema: The engineer who became the dean of capital markets



When the big names of the Nigerian economic and financial space are mentioned, Oscar Onyema is necessarily one of them. The reason is not only because he has been Managing Director of the Nigerian Stock Exchange for the past 10 years. Prior to joining the Nigerian Capital Market, Onyema had spent over 20 years in the United States financial markets, managing market structure initiatives, products and securities trading activities. Obviously, it has been tested on different fronts.

Oscar N. Onyema was born on August 19, 1968 in the family of His Royal Majesty Eze VBC Onyema III, Eze Onyema III of Ogwu-Ikpele, Ogbaru Local Government Area of ​​Anambra State. After graduating from high school, he applied and was admitted to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. He then obtained an MBA in Finance and Investments from Baruch College in New York.

He attended Harvard Business School’s six-week advanced management program in 2015 and is active with the Security Traders Association of New York and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Onyema has also obtained the licenses of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Series 7, 24 and 63.

In February 1992, Onyema resumed his role as Marketing Manager at Data Processing Maintenance and Services (DPMS) Limited. After 3 years and a few months, he moved to New York Mercantile Exchange as Senior Analyst from July 1997 to January 2001. He worked at the American Stock Exchange as Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer from January 2001 to October 2008, being the first person of color to hold this position. Onyema worked as Senior Vice President at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Euronext (Amex) between October 2008 and June 2009. He managed the NYSE Amex equity trading activity and helped position it as a leading market for small and mid-capitalization securities.

In August 2009, Oscar Onyema founded Market Strategist LLC where he served as a senior consultant for the next two years. He has been a consultant to the Gerson Lehrman Group Platform in the United States and has carried out consultations enabling decision makers in investment firms and corporations to better understand products, services, businesses and the problems of global financial markets. He resumed his role as Managing Director of the Nigeria Stock Exchange in April 2011 and served for 10 years before resigning recently after completing his tenure.

As CEO of the NSE, he launched a transformation program to reorganize the Stock Exchange to become competitive on a global scale. He has implemented several innovations focused on technology, product development and market infrastructure in Nigeria and across Africa; while strengthening regulation and operational efficiency across the market.

Onyema is chairman of two affiliates: Central Securities Clearing System Plc (CSCS), Nigerian Clearing, Settlement and Capital Market Custodian; and NG Clearing Limited, which is the premier central clearing house (CCP) in Nigeria. He sits on several bodies such as the Nigeria Pensions Commission (PENCOM), the London Stock Exchange Advisory Group (LSEG), the African Advisory Group (LAAG) and the WFE Membership Committee.

He was chairman of the West African Capital Markets Integration Council (WACMIC) and also chairman of the African Stock Exchange Association (ASEA). It is at the regional level. When we go further, Oscar has a seat at the London Stock Exchange Group Africa Advisory Group (LAAG) and is part of the Thompson Reuters Africa Advisory Network. Onyema was a member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Oscar N. Onyema, OON, was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) at the 60th WFE General Assembly and Annual Meeting on September 9, 2021). He will represent the Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) region on the Board of Directors for the next three years.


He has held various positions at the New York Mercantile Exchange where he managed futures market structure initiatives; and Data Processing Maintenance and Services Ltd (an IBM business partner) where it sold IBM midrange system solutions. He was also an assistant lecturer in economics at Pace University, New York.

Onyema is Chairman of the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, the Nigerian capital market clearing house; member of the Board of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers of Nigeria (CIS); President of the African Securities Exchanges Association and member of the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum. He also sits on the boards of all NSE subsidiaries, as well as FMDQ OTC PLC (FMDQ).

When the demutualization plan was activated with the creation of NGX Group Plc, a new non-operational holding company, as the parent company of NSE and its operational structures with its three operational subsidiaries, Onyema acted as director non-executive on the board.

Oscar Onyemas’ contributions to the economic space have not been without praise. He won the Man of the Year award from ThisDay newspaper in 2012 and a few years later the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry awarded him the Most Innovative CEO of the Year 2014 in recognition of its role in the development of the Nigerian capital market.

In 2014, Oscar Onyema received the prestigious distinction of Officer of the Order of Niger (OON) in “recognition of his contribution to economic development, the transformation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Nigerian capital markets”.

He holds the traditional title of chiligwe of Ogwu-Ikpele.

Onyema has a foundation, the Oscar N. Onyema Foundation, which he fully funds to give back to his community through education.




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