When top names in Nigeria’s economic and financial space are mentioned, Oscar Onyema is bound to be one of them. The reason for this is not just because he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange for the past 10 years. Before joining the Nigerian capital market, Onyema had spent over 20 years in the United States financial markets, managing market structure initiatives, products and securities exchange businesses. Clearly, he has been tested on different fronts.
Oscar N. Onyema was born on the 19th of August, 1968 to the family of His Royal Majesty Eze V. B. C. Onyema III, the Eze Onyema III of Ogwu-Ikpele, Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State. After his secondary education, he applied for and was admitted into the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria where he bagged his bachelor degree in Computer Engineering. He went on to an MBA in Finance and Investments from Baruch College, New York City.
He participated in the Harvard Business School’s six weeks Advanced Management Program in 2015 and is active in the Security Traders Association of New York, and Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Onyema has also obtained the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Series 7, 24, and 63 licenses.
In February 1992, Onyema resumed as a marketing executive at Data Processing Maintenance and Services (DPMS) Limited. After 3 years and some months, he moved to New York Mercantile Exchange as a Senior Analyst from July 1997 to January 2001. He worked on the American Stock Exchange as the Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer from January 2001 to October 2008, being the first person of colour to hold that position. Onyema worked as Senior Vice President at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Euronext (Amex) between October 2008 and June 2009. He managed NYSE Amex equity trading business and helped position it as a premier market for small and mid-cap securities.
In August 2009, Oscar Onyema founded Market Strategist LLC where he served as Principal Consultant for the next couple of years. He consulted under the Gerson Lehrman Group platform in the United States and successfully completed consultations enabling decision-makers at investment firms and corporations better understand products, services, companies, and issues in global financial markets. He resumed as Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in April 2011 and served for 10 years before stepping down recently after completing his tenure.
As CEO of the NSE, he launched a ‘Transformation Agenda’ to revamp the Exchange to become globally competitive. He implemented several innovations hinged on technology, product development and market infrastructure in Nigeria and across Africa; while driving stronger regulation and operational efficiencies market-wide.
Onyema is Chairman of two affiliate companies: Central Securities Clearing System Plc (CSCS), the clearing, settlement, and depository for the Nigerian capital market; and NG Clearing Limited, which is the premier Central Counter Party Clearing House (CCP) in Nigeria. He serves on several bodies such as the Pension Commission of Nigeria (PENCOM), London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) Africa Advisory Group (LAAG), and Membership Committee of the WFE.
He has served as Chairman of the West African Capital Market integration council (WACMIC), and also serves as president of the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA). This is on the regional level. When we take it a step further, Oscar occupies a seat on the London Stock Exchange Group Africa Advisory Group (LAAG) and is part of the Thompson Reuters Africa Advisory Network. Onyema has served as a Global Agenda Council member of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Oscar N. Onyema, OON, was recently elected to the Board of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) at the 60th General Assembly and Annual Meeting of WFE on 9 September 2021). He will represent Europe-Middle East-Africa (EMEA) region on the board for the next three years.
He held various positions at New York Mercantile Exchange where he managed futures market structure initiatives; and Data Processing Maintenance and Services Ltd (an IBM business partner) where he sold IBM mid-range system solutions. He has also served as Adjunct Lecturer of Economics at Pace University, New York.
Onyema is Chairman of Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc, the clearinghouse for the Nigerian capital market; Council member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers of Nigeria (CIS); President of the African Securities Exchanges Association, and a Global Agenda Council member of the World Economic Forum. He also serves on the boards of all NSE subsidiaries, as well as FMDQ OTC PLC (FMDQ).
When the demutualization plan was activated with the creation of the NGX Group Plc, a new non-operating holding company, as the parent company for the NSE and its operating structures with its three operating subsidiaries, Onyema served as a non-executive director on the board.
Oscar Onyema’s contributions in the economic space have not been without acclaim. He won the Man Of The Year award from ThisDay newspaper in 2012, and a couple of years later, the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry awarded him the Most Innovative CEO of the year 2014 in recognition of his role in developing the Nigerian capital market.
In 2014, Oscar Onyema received the prestigious honour as Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in “recognition of his contribution to economic development, the transformation of The Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Nigerian capital markets.”
He holds the traditional title of Öchiligwe of Ogwu-Ikpele.
Onyema has a foundation – the Oscar N. Onyema foundation – which he fully funds to give back to his community through education.