Asiwaju Akintunde Asalu; pronouncing the name elicited different feelings depending on who was doing the listening. To some, the elderly man was a socialite extra ordinary, to others on the boards and management of many of Nigeria’s quoted companies, a trouble-shooting shareholder, yet to others, he was a crusader of sort.
To many, however, he was readily recognised as the leading stock activist in the country, having started transactions in stocks in his upper secondary school days and until his death late 2007 leading what was arguably the foremost shareholders’ associations in the country- the Nigerian Shareholders’ Solidarity Association.
To me, the man stuck an image of a knowledgeable shareholder whose passion was in stocks even as he sat on the boards and audit committees of quite a number of the nation’s companies.
His image preceding him
Of course as a rookie in stock market reporting many years back, I had heard quite a few things about this man long before I had the opportunity and privilege to meet him.
I finally met the man, whom many refer to as the Warren Buffet of the Nigerian stock market at several of the Annual General Meetings (AGMs) of quoted companies I was obliged to attend as a capital market correspondent at the Punch newspapers, where I cut my reporting teeth and I could not but be impressed by his knowledge and forthrightness in taking on company managements and boards and even regulatory authorities anytime he was convinced they had made a move not in consonance with the interest of members of his association and shareholders in general.
Getting closer, benefiting
And so I sought and got a few interviews with this man and fortunately was able to tap into some of his insight on matters of stock trading and investment in our emerging capital market.
I must say that the fact that my becoming a recipient of the NMMA Capital Market Award for two consecutive years (2004 and 2005) cannot be detached from the influence of people like Asalu, Onyekuru of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Hauwa Audu, Goddy Egene of the Punch newspapers, Sunny Nwosu of ISAN, F.A. Akindipe and Umar Faruk.
These people rubbed their knowledge off me and much of what I know today about the stock market was learnt either ‘at their feet’ while talking to them or by reading materials emanating from them.
So it was indeed no surprise that when I learnt that Asalu had written a book titled ‘My Life of Stocks’, I could barely wait to lay my hands on a copy. And so obtain and consume a copy I did and I have since not only reviewed it but also recommended it to participants at seminars where I facilitate, as a book worth every kobo spent on it.
In the book, Asalu particularly did two things quite impressive; he gave a list of what he refers to as the ‘Asalu Guidelines’ to young and prospective shareholders and also listed the companies, then numbering 126, in which he held shares.
The ‘Asalu Guidelines’
The ‘Asalu Guidelines’ include such tips as the need to hold more of your assets in stocks rather than in cash for safety and income; the things to watch out for in buying a stock e.g. how import-dependent the company is, who constitutes its board and management, what its last five-year financial summary looks like, and attending AGMs regularly to get a first hand feel of things etc.
And the elderly man of stocks would not let the readers of his book go without some words of philosophical advice.
Hear him: “One great thing I hold on to is God’s goodness to His creation. From time to time, I advise people not to say that God does not love them; He does. But do not demand that what He does for other people should be done for you in the same measure. One should wait for one’s own time because it will surely come.”
Need I say more?
Even though Asalu has gone to be with the Lord, his footsteps will remain etched in the sands of the Nigerian capital market, especially with the book he was thoughtful enough to have bequeathed to posterity.