The management of SunTrust Bank Limited, one of the recently licensed commercial banks in the country officially opened its doors to customers Monday. The bank has a regional banking licence.
Speaking at the opening ceremony which attracted top government officials, politicians as well as traditional rulers in Lagos yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Mr. Muhammad Jibrin, said the bank was the first fresh banking licence to be issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) since 2001.
Jibrin said SunTrust Bank started about six years ago as a mortgage bank, adding that the board and management were able to grow its balance to a reasonable size before they decided to pursue a commercial banking licence from the CBN which they got in September last year.
He said the bank would be a financial technology institution that would focus electronic channels by offering telephone, mobile and internet banking services.
“Banking is no longer where you go, it is what people do. Therefore, the only thing that can stand the future is no longer physical branches, but banking services that would be driven by technology. “So, most customers of tomorrow would no longer be the customers that they want to go to the banking hall. So, you need to be able to position the institution to respond positively to the needs and expectations of customers of tomorrow. That is at the heart of our own vision and strategy as tomorrow’s bank today,” Jibrin said.
In his presentation, the Chairman of the bank, Mr. Charles Onyema Ugboko, said establishing a bank amid the present economic situation showed that the board and management are committed to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
In his goodwill message, the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwanu Akiolu, urged the management of the bank to remain focused, even as he appealed to them to employ at least 30 per cent of Lagos indigenes.
Also, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, pointed out that going into business at this time when “everybody else is trying to get out of business, takes a lot of courage, and to go particularly into banking takes triple courage.
“But such occasion throws up opportunities to those who can see far and beyond. It is the courage of the founders of this bank that I want to applaud. If you are just coming in to be another bank, then it is not worth coming in.
“So, you have to come in as a bank with a difference. You must change the game. Service and quality should be your focus. I personally believe that the cost level of banks is very high, so if you can bring your own down, you will win,” the traditional ruler said.
On his part, the Lagos branch controller of CBN, Mr. J. Iyari, who represented the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, urged the board and management of the bank to keep to the rules and be good corporate citizen.
“The bank should try to create market niche, be special and be the bank of choice. I assure you that the CBN will continue to provide a level playing field for all operators in the financial services industry to support the growth and development of our country,” he said.
Also, the President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, who was at the ceremony, commended the bank for taking such as abold step.
“As we speak here today, it might be easy for us to be overwhelmed by many challenges we face as business people. The lack of growth in the major economies of the world, the declining commodity prices in general, the weakness in our economy and the difficulty faced by the banking sector all over the world.”
“But throughout my business life, I have learnt that problems and difficulties are also great opportunities. People can make quite a lot out of difficulties and I think our difficulties in Nigeria today should be turned to opportunities. In this period, you need the courage to attack when others are retreating.
“As you know, in Lagos, we have many projects that we are doing and we are not retreating. We have continued to invest in this downturn, with expectation that our investment would actually pay a handsome reward as the cycle turns. I congratulate you for taking this step when banks all over the world are facing multiple headwinds. I am excited that their courage would be rewarded in the near future,” Dangote added.
Experts Urge Swift Government Action on Nigeria’s Untapped N3 Trillion Logistics Sector
Experts at the Courier and Logistics Management Institute conference in Lagos have emphasized the critical importance of the overlooked logistics, courier, and transport sector in Nigeria, valued at over N3 trillion.
During the event themed “Logistics Solutions and National Infrastructure Development,” the CLMI Executive Chairman, Prof. Simon Emeje, highlighted the urgent need for the federal government to prioritize this sector, which remains relatively untapped on a global scale.
Emeje underscored the sector’s significance, stating, “Any country that does not pay attention to logistics, courier, and the transport sector cannot survive.
The government must not ignore this sector because it is the bedrock of any economy.”
The logistics, courier, transport, and management industry boasts an average asset worth over N3 trillion, offering substantial potential for job creation.
Emeje emphasized that commerce is crippled without effective logistics, illustrating the importance of the sector in facilitating trade, enhancing the supply chain, creating jobs, and propelling economic growth.
Despite its undeniable importance, the Nigerian logistics sector faces hindrances such as infrastructural deficits and weak government policies, preventing it from reaching its full potential.
Emeje called for immediate attention to address these challenges and unlock the sector’s capacity to create millions of employment opportunities for Nigerian youth.
Former Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, urged the institute to draft a comprehensive proposal for government adoption, offering assistance in facilitating engagement.
Both Shittu and Prof. Emeje called on the Federal Government to establish a dedicated ministry to foster an enabling environment for Courier and Logistics Management, drawing parallels to the recognition given to the entertainment industry.
President Tinubu Seeks Senate Approval for $8.6 Billion and €100 Million Borrowing Plan
President Bola Tinubu’s administration has formally requested the approval of the Nigerian Senate for a borrowing plan totaling $8.6 billion and €100 million.
The request was presented to the Senate through a letter read during the plenary by the Senate President, GodsWill Akpabio.
According to the letter, the proposed funds are integral to the federal government’s 2022-2024 external borrowing plan, previously sanctioned by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu clarified that the projects earmarked for funding through this loan cut across diverse sectors, emphasizing their selection based on rigorous economic evaluations and their anticipated contributions to national development.
The letter highlighted, “The projects and programs in the borrowing plan were selected based on economic evaluations as well as the expected contribution to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation, and skills acquisition.”
The specified sectors earmarked for development include infrastructure, agriculture, health, water supply, roads, security, and employment generation, along with financial management reforms.
The borrowing plan’s comprehensive approach aims to address critical needs and propel the nation’s progress.
President Tinubu emphasized the urgency of the Senate’s approval, stating, “Given the nature of these facilities, and the need to return the country to normalcy, it has become necessary for the Senate to consider and approve the 2022-2024 external abridged borrowing plan to enable the government to deliver its responsibility to Nigerians.”
This appeal follows previous successful requests, including the National Assembly’s approval of an over $800 million loan for the National Social Safety Network Programme in August.
Also, the assembly greenlighted the 2022 Supplementary Appropriations Act of N819 million to provide palliatives to Nigerians, mitigating the impact of fuel subsidy removal.
As the deliberations unfold, the Senate’s decision on this substantial borrowing plan will play a pivotal role in shaping Nigeria’s economic trajectory.
Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline Construction Set for 2024
Nigeria’s Gas Minister, Ekperikpe Ekpo, announced the scheduled commencement of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline construction in 2024.
The revelation came during a meeting with a delegation from Morocco, led by Ambassador Moha Ou Ali Tagma, on Monday in Abuja.
The Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline, a colossal undertaking covering 5,600 kilometers and traversing 13 African countries, is poised to transform the energy landscape of the region.
Spanning nations from Nigeria to Morocco and reaching Europe, the pipeline aims to facilitate gas transportation, enhance economic integration, combat desertification, and contribute significantly to the reduction of carbon emissions.
Ekpo, expressing Nigeria’s readiness for the project, stated, “I believe by 2024, we will conclude on it.”
He emphasized the importance of natural gas in the context of climate change, highlighting its role in ensuring low carbon emissions and fostering prosperity.
The pipeline, originating at Brass Island in Nigeria and reaching the northern region of Morocco, will interlink with the existing Maghreb European Pipeline, connecting Algeria to Spain.
Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), underscored the commitment to a consistent gas supply and the provision of necessary infrastructure.
Despite the ambitious vision, some analysts have raised concerns about the viability of the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline. Notably, the project has encountered delays, with a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016 and 2018, followed by another in 2022.
Analysts, including oil and gas expert Dan D Kunle, have stressed the need for comprehensive studies to assess economic impact, financial returns, and agreements with transit countries.
While challenges and skepticism persist, Kyari has expressed confidence in securing funding for the project.
However, alternative perspectives suggest exploring investments in LNG plants, regasification facilities in Moroccan ports, and LNG vessel carriers for a more flexible and globally accessible energy solution.
As Nigeria and Morocco navigate this ambitious venture, meticulous planning and strategic considerations will be crucial for ensuring its success.
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