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Wema Bank‘s Financial Fundamentals Remain Strong, Says CEO

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The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Wema Bank Plc, Mr. Ademola Adebise, has reassured customers and shareholders that the bank has strong financial fundamentals and reliable performance metrics, riding on the back of seasoned and astute leadership.

Adebise stated this against the insinuations of weak liquidity. Wema Bank Plc posted gross earnings of about N81 billion and profit after tax of N5.1 billion for year ended December 31, 2020. The CEO explained that the strength and viability of financial institutions were not measured on the isolated performance of one outlier year, stating that, “Wema Bank has continually exhibited not just resilience, but admirable viability over the years with a 30.95 per cent increase in earnings recorded in just 2019.

“Then came 2020, and in spite of the difficulties, we succeeded in achieving impressive results in key areas such as net earnings from fees and commissions, while growing the bank’s asset base significantly.

That’s not all, customer credibility in the bank was also accentuated with a massive increase in customer deposits over the previous year. This is an audacious show of confidence from our customers at Wema Bank. These performance metrics amongst others, are testament to our smart balance sheet optimisation approach which will be affirmed by the time the audited and official 2020 Financial Report is released in the coming weeks,” he said.

According to him, the bank’s performance in the 2020 made it one of the best performing financial institutions in the land given the challenging operating environment.

“We won the BusinessDay award for the Best SME Bank of the Year for 2020. A recognition of our unrivalled support for small and medium scale businesses through loans, business advisory, and ease of payments and transactions. Also, the recently published 2020 KPMG Customer Experience Survey, showed Wema Bank making significant growth in the retail category, climbing up ten (10) places from the previous year to 2nd position, with an above industry average of 74.6 per cent Customer Experience score. This achievement is a mark of dedication to excellent customer service and refreshing support for all our customer categories.

The KPMG Customer Experience Survey grades banks over six universal pillars of Personalization, Integrity, Expectations, Resolution, Time & Effort and Empathy, and Wema Bank has showed a mastery of these pillars and have been outstanding at all of them,” he said.

Adebise added that in line with the bank’s sustainability goal of developing digital solutions for societal impact, it successfully organised the second edition of Hackaholics, a radical gathering of developers, web designers and creative thinkers to develop solutions around key themes of education, health, agriculture, fintech, gaming & betting.

Banking Sector

Federal High Court Sets Date for Contempt Hearing in GTB vs. AFEX Loan Case

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has scheduled June 27, 2024, for the next hearing in the ongoing contempt suit filed by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) against directors of AFEX Exchange Commodities Limited.

The case revolves around a disputed N17.81 billion loan obtained under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

Presiding over the court, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke set the date following a session where arguments were presented by the plaintiff’s lead counsel, Mr. Ade Adedeji (SAN), and the respondent’s counsel, Prof. Olawoyin (SAN).

The core issue pertains to the alleged disobedience of a court order by the directors of AFEX Exchange Commodities Limited.

GTB, through its counsel Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), has accused AFEX and its directors—Ayodele Balogun, Jendayi Fraaser, Justin Topilow, Mobolaji Adeoye, and Koonal Ghandi—of contempt for failing to comply with a court directive.

The bank alleges that these directors did not appear in court as mandated, which led to the initiation of contempt proceedings.

During the latest session, Adedeji emphasized the necessity for the directors to appear in person, stating, “My lord, the parties in contempt are not in court. The contemnors cannot sit in the comfort of their homes and send a lawyer to court in contempt proceedings. The law is trite that they must appear before the court.”

In response, Olawoyin argued that he had only recently been briefed on the matter and was not fully aware of the prior developments.

He noted that some of the individuals listed as directors were no longer with the company, adding that one current director, Mr. Akinyinka, was present in court, while another was on pilgrimage.

The contempt case traces back to a suit marked FHC/L/CS/911/2024, where GTB sought to recover the loan amount through legal measures.

On May 27, Justice Aneke granted an interim Global Standing Instruction (GSI) injunction, which directs over 20 banks to transfer funds credited to AFEX into its account with GTB until the debt is settled.

Also, the court authorized GTB to take possession of AFEX’s 16 warehouses across seven states and sell the commodities stored within, as these were procured using the CBN’s loan facility.

The N17.81 billion loan comprises N15.77 billion in principal and interest outstanding as of April 17, 2024, and an additional N2.04 billion covering recovery costs and incidental expenses.

As the court prepares for the next hearing, the financial and legal communities are closely watching the proceedings.

The outcome will significantly impact not only the involved parties but also set a precedent for handling similar cases in the future.

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Banking Sector

CRC Credit Bureau Celebrates 15 Years with Record 14% Credit Penetration in Nigeria

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CRC Credit Bureau Limited celebrated its 15th anniversary with a record 14% credit penetration rate.

The occasion was marked with the CRC Finance and Credit Conference 2024 held in Lagos, where key industry stakeholders gathered to reflect on the bureau’s journey and discuss future trends in credit risk management.

Founded in January 2010 and licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), CRC Credit Bureau has played a pivotal role in enhancing access to credit across Nigeria.

Dr. Tunde Popoola, the Group Managing Director/CEO of CRC Credit Bureau Limited, highlighted the bureau’s journey, noting that from its inception with a single product, CRC has expanded its offerings to 18 products covering all aspects of the lending value chain.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Popoola underscored the bureau’s contribution to Nigeria’s financial sector, stating, “CRC Credit Bureau has been instrumental in transforming access to credit in Nigeria over the past 15 years. We started with a vision to simplify credit access through reliable data and have since grown to serve millions of Nigerians.”

The event focused on the theme “Sustainable Financing Options: Innovations in Credit Risk Management,” emphasizing the importance of sustainable finance amid economic challenges.

The conference provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss strategies for mitigating risks and enhancing the efficiency of credit operations in Nigeria.

Reflecting on the current state of credit penetration, Dr. Popoola noted that while Nigeria has made significant progress, the 14% penetration rate still falls below global benchmarks.

He highlighted that CRC Credit Bureau currently holds credit scores for 33 million Nigerians, facilitating over 29.4 million searches in 2023 alone, with an additional 10 million searches conducted in the first quarter of 2024.

Joel Owoade, Chairman of CRC’s Board of Directors, acknowledged the economic headwinds impacting businesses in Nigeria but stressed the importance of sustainable financing to mitigate risks associated with lending.

“As we navigate economic fluctuations, sustainable financing remains crucial to fostering economic stability and growth,” Owoade remarked.

The conference also featured insights from industry experts on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in credit risk management and regulatory frameworks to support AI-driven innovations.

Olaniyi Yusuf, Managing Partner of Verraki, highlighted the potential of AI to create jobs and enhance economic productivity, calling for supportive regulatory environments that balance innovation with risk management.

Representatives from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) emphasized the regulator’s efforts to promote sustainable credit practices.

Dr. Adetona Adedeji, Acting Director of the Banking Supervision Department at CBN, outlined initiatives such as the National Collateral Registry and Global Standing Instruction aimed at enhancing credit access while minimizing risks.

As CRC Credit Bureau looks ahead, Dr. Popoola expressed optimism about the future, stating, “We remain committed to driving greater financial inclusion and expanding credit access in Nigeria. Our focus is on leveraging technology and strategic partnerships to deliver innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of consumers and lenders.”

The celebration of CRC Credit Bureau’s 15th anniversary underscored its pivotal role in Nigeria’s financial sector, marking a milestone in the nation’s journey towards broader financial inclusion and sustainable economic growth.

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Loans

Nigeria’s Public Debt Hits N101tn as World Bank Loans Soar to $4.95bn

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Nigeria’s public debt has breached the N101 trillion mark, driven by a substantial influx of loans from the World Bank totaling $4.95 billion over the past twelve months.

This surge in borrowing has raised concerns about the country’s ability to service its growing debt obligations amidst economic challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and fluctuating global oil prices.

As of December 2023, Nigeria’s debt stood at approximately N97 trillion, according to data from the Debt Management Office (DMO).

The recent borrowing spree has propelled this figure to N101 trillion, reflecting a rapid escalation in the country’s indebtedness.

The loans from the World Bank are earmarked for various developmental projects, including critical sectors such as power, women empowerment, education, renewable energy, and economic reforms.

These initiatives are part of Nigeria’s broader strategy to enhance infrastructure, socio-economic development, and institutional reforms aimed at bolstering long-term growth and resilience.

The breakdown of the World Bank funding includes $750 million allocated for power sector financing aimed at improving electricity generation and distribution, which remains a persistent challenge in Nigeria.

Another $500 million is dedicated to women’s empowerment programs, focusing on expanding opportunities and economic inclusion for women across the country.

Also, $700 million has been allocated to support education initiatives, particularly for adolescent girls under the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment project.

This funding seeks to enhance access to quality education and empower young girls in Nigeria.

Moreover, the World Bank has committed $750 million to the Distributed Access through Renewable Energy Scale-up project, aimed at increasing electricity access through renewable energy solutions.

This initiative targets over 17.5 million Nigerians who currently lack reliable electricity.

The largest tranche of $1.5 billion is designated for Economic Stabilisation to Enable Transformation Development Policy Financing Programme. This funding is intended to bolster fiscal revenues, expand social safety nets, and support economic diversification efforts to reduce dependency on oil revenues.

Despite these investments aimed at driving economic growth and improving living standards, concerns linger over Nigeria’s ability to effectively manage its escalating debt burden.

The country’s debt servicing costs have risen significantly, diverting resources away from critical sectors such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure development.

Critics argue that while external financing is necessary for development, the government must ensure transparency, accountability, and effective utilization of borrowed funds to avoid the pitfalls of previous debt mismanagement.

There is also a growing call for stringent fiscal discipline and reforms to enhance revenue generation and reduce dependency on borrowing.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has defended the borrowing, asserting that it is crucial for bridging infrastructure gaps, stimulating economic growth, and creating job opportunities.

However, stakeholders emphasize the need for prudent debt management and sustainable economic policies to safeguard Nigeria’s financial stability and long-term prosperity.

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