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Banking Sector

CBN Reinstates Sola Adeduntan As MD Sacks ALL Directors of First Bank Holdings

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reinstated Sola Adeduntan as the managing director and chief executive officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

Following the latest action of the Board of FBN Ltd to retire Dr. Sola Adeduntan and replace him with his deputy, Mr. Gbenga Shobo outside of the apex bank’s consent, the CBN took the decision to issue all members of the Board of FBN Ltd and FBN Holding, a red card, naming an interim Board headed by the now reinstated Dr. Adeduntan.

On Wednesday, the CBN had queried the board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited over the removal of Sola Adeduntan, without due consultation with regulatory authorities.

“The CBN was not made aware of any report from the board indicting the managing director of any wrong-doing or misconduct; there appears to be no apparent justification for the precipitate removal,” the letter signed by Haruna Mustafa, CBN’s director of banking supervision, read.

“We are particularly concerned because the action is coming at a time the CBN has provided various regulatory forbearances and liquidity support to reposition the bank, which has enhanced its asset quality, capital adequacy, and liquidity ratios amongst other prudential indicators.

“It is also curious to observe that the sudden removal of the MD/CEO was done about eight months to the expiry of his second tenure, which is due on December 31, 2021.”

The governor of the central bank, Godwin Emefiele affirmed that the removal of Adedutan was unlawful and ordered the immediate removal of all directors of FBN Limited and FBN Holdings Plc.

Speaking during the press briefing on Thursday evening, Mr. Emefiele stated that the apex bank had been keeping close tabs on First Bank Nigeria over the past 5 years have discovered that the bank was in “grave financial condition with its capital adequacy ratio (CAR) and non-performing loans ratio (NPL) substantially breaching acceptable prudential standards.”

According to Emefiele, “The insiders who took loans in the bank, with controlling influence on the board of directors, failed to adhere to the terms for the restructuring of their credit facilities which contributed to the poor financial state of the bank. The CBN’s recent target examination as at December 31, 2020, revealed that insider loans were materially non-compliant with restructuring terms (e.g. non-perfection of lien on shares/collateral arrangements) for over 3 years despite several regulatory reminders. The bank has not also divested its non-permissible holdings in non-financial entities in line with regulatory directives.

“This is a bank where depositors’ fund is almost 10 times shareholders’ fund, our interest is to protect depositors and minority shareholders who have no voice in this business. We will not sit idle and allow this to continue.

“I spoke to Mr. Oba Otudeko (chairman of First Bank Holdings), he refused to grant my entreaties. I had to call two of his major shareholders to call him to ask the board not to take such decisions without the approval of the CBN. He refused to pick the calls of these shareholders — who are also owners of the bank.

“I called him the second time, I heard on another phone one of the shareholders begging him not to take that decision, he insisted on taking that decision. I sent the shareholder back to the office of Mr. Oba Otudeko to appeal to him to suspend the decision, he refused to see the shareholder. I feel we have done our best and we would not allow a shareholder who cannot subject himself to regulatory control and authority to remain as the director of a bank.” Emefiele said.

The apex bank, however, directed U.K. Eke to remain as the group chief executive officer of FBN Holdings Plc.

Remi Babalola is the interim chairman of FBN Holdings Plc, other members include, Peter Aliugo, Fatade Oluwole, Kofo Dosekun, Remi Lasaki, Alimi Abdulrasaq, Ahmed Modibo, and Khalifa Iman.

Tunde Hassan-Odukale is the new chairman of First Bank Limited, other members include Tokunbo Martins, Uche Nwokedi, Adekunle Sonola, Isioma Ogodazi, Ebenezer Olufowose, Ishaya Dodo, Sola Adeduntan as managing director, Remi Oni, Gbenga Sobo and Abdullahi Ibrahim

Banking Sector

Ecobank Partners NiDCOM to Mobilise Nigerians Abroad for National Development

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In a bid to fulfill it’s objectives and mandate, the Pan African Bank has promised to support Nigerians living and working abroad through it’s partnership with NiDCOM.

The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has stated that the bank is privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NiDCOM) and will continue to pursue one of its key mandates of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa through its support to Nigerians living and working abroad.

Speaking at the maiden edition of the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series with Ecobank as the sole banking partner which took place on Saturday, 8th May 2021, he noted that Ecobank remains a critical bridge for Nigerians abroad, as it has made huge investments in the necessary platforms to enable them connect with home seamlessly. The event held online and had over 2000 participants from across all the continents in attendance.

“Nigerians in the diaspora play a major role in nation building, their contribution goes a long way to catalyse economic development. For us at Ecobank, we are a pan-African institution positioned to foster the economic growth and integration of our continent, so we are particularly pleased to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), ably led by the Chairman/CEO, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa”.

“We are committed to ensuring that every Nigerian living abroad is able to remit home seamlessly and affordably, access viable investment opportunities and as the financial institution of choice for Nigerians abroad, we have deployed the necessary resources to actualise this.” He stated.

The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was also present, reiterated the readiness of the government to collaborate with Nigerians in the diaspora, highlighting the new processes put in place to facilitate passport issuance, noting that all backlog of passport applications would be cleared by the end of May 2021.

Also speaking, the Hon. Minister of State, Foreign Affairs Amb. Zubairu Dada said harnessing the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in the diaspora towards the socio-economic, cultural, and political development of Nigeria can no longer be ignored. He pointed out that the Nigerian diaspora community is well educated, resourceful, skilled, and exposed to global best practices.

The NiDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri- Erewa explained that the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series is projected to be a major aspect of national discourse, where Nigerians abroad can be kept abreast of the government’s policies, programmes and projects.

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Banking Sector

Wema Bank Unveils Hackaholics 2.0 Bootcamp Winners, Gives Out Over N8M Seed Fund

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Wema Bank’s Hackaholics 2.0, an acceleration aimed at helping startups scale and gain entrance into the market, came to an exciting end as the finalists were unveiled on Wednesday, May 5, 2021, at the Bank’s corporate head office in Marina, Lagos.

Themed, “Connecting Worlds” the Acceleration Program was a two-day virtual pitch which ran from October 30 – 31, 2020, for 20 participants across five industry pillars – Fintech, Agritech, Edutech, Gaming, and Healthtech, who qualified from a pool of over 100 entries received.

The Bank presented four startups comprising two people each with N2,187,500.00 startup fund. The winners emerged across each industry after a four-week Bootcamp under the supervision of a best-in-class acceleration curriculum delivered by seasoned faculty and tech specialists from GreenHouse Capital, official partners of the event.

The Managing Director/CEO, Wema Bank, Ademola Adebise congratulated the winners and expressed satisfaction with the quality of competition and the entire process.

“We are happy to see the winners emerge and are positive that you guys will be the unicorns of tech solutions in the next couple of years,” he said.

“For us at Wema Bank, we will continue to support innovations and innovative ideas, support our youths, and support our women to thrive. We believe that is the way to go and significantly grow and support the economy,” Adebise said.

The winning start-ups are:

Fintech Category: Oladayo Awotukunbo of Plumpter, a Fintech brand that created a marketplace for secure payments to foreign parties and quick banking.

Gaming/Betting Category: Ernest Akinlola and Obayemi Okubajo of My Lotto Hub, a digital startup pioneering the aggregation of lottery operators and enabling lottery punters to manage all their operations in a single platform

Agritech Category: Aderinola Amole and Olamide Oyinlola of FarmSquare, a brand that focuses on using the e-commerce model to simplify the demand and supply of Agricultural inputs in Nigeria.

Healthtech Category: Uche Udekwe and Joy Chioma of Natal Cares, a startup with a product that optimizes the healthcare value chain to reduce the high mortality rate for pregnant women and children.

Speaking at the event, Chief Financial Officer, Wema Bank, Tunde Mabawonku, reinforced the internal and external growth integration stance of the bank saying: “We realized very early that financial service delivery has moved beyond bricks and mortar physical interactions, hence, at Wema Bank we repositioned internally, invested strategically and heavily in technology to drive Digital Optimization of our services”.

“Second, we realized we can’t innovate all from within, we need to drive innovation from outside. We then created “Hackaholics” the Wema Bank Hackathon. The idea is to bring fresh minds, fresh ideas, fresh insights, into solving day-to-day societal problems leveraging technology. We are also working with third-party resource providers we can invest in to grow the solutions for societal impact”. Mabawonku added.

Chief Digital Officer, Wema Bank, Segun Adeniyi emphasized the importance of the Bank’s sustainability footprints. “We aim this initiative at deepening the impact of innovation in the ecosystem and create an opportunity to drive that ecosystem. There is a plethora of start-ups and innovators out there who don’t have the right environment to upscale those ideas into commercial value”.

“What we have done is giving some seed to them in funding, and more importantly, we have given them advisory. We have helped them to look at the ideas they have, flesh them into commercial value, help them articulate the problem, identify unique areas where and how they can solve those problems, and identify their target market.”

The winning startups all expressed gratitude to Wema Bank for the seed fund and commended the bank for the initiative. They said the Hackathon Bootcamp has broadened their horizon. They expressed that the seed funding from Wema Bank will help to upscale their businesses to the desired place.

“For us at Wema Bank, this is not just CSR. It is creative self-disruption. We are attuned to what is going on in the ecosystem, we are keen to be part of it, we are enthusiastic about sharing our own experiences with the start-ups. It is part of why we stay vibrant and relevant as an organization,” Adeniyi concludes.

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Banking Sector

Heritage Bank Partners Road Transport Workers

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Heritage Bank in partnership with the Road Transport Employee’s Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) has launched the Travelers’ Accident Insurance Scheme (TAIS) to assist road accident victims across the country.

The scheme which was launched on Friday aims to address deaths associated with the inability of travelers involved in accidents to offset hospital bills.

The Regional Executive, Abuja, and North, Heritage Bank Plc, George Okoh-Oboh, while speaking at the launch of the scheme in Abuja, commended the thoughtfulness of the association in coming up with such a program to save the lives of accident victims.

He stated that the partnership would help address the road safety crisis due to the tragic loss from a road crash death or severe injury which was compounded by the harm to families, social networks, and national economies.

According to him, the majority of victims are part of the working-age population (between 15 and 64 years old). In fact, road crashes have become the #1 killer of the young worldwide.

He pledged the continued support of the bank in ensuring the success of the scheme.

Okoh-Oboh said, “At Heritage Bank, we believe in this project and we are ready to support it as it seeks to address accidents on the road.

“This project will save lives of many Nigerians, so we are not just here to see what comes in but we are here to add value and ensure that it succeeds.”

The National President of RTEAN, Musa Muhammed, in his remarks said the scheme aims at promoting the welfare of passengers while ensuring security for passengers’ property.

He explained that the scheme would provide support to passengers who may be involved in accidents at the course of their journeys.

“This scheme covers all Nigerians involved in accidents that require medical attention while on a road trip. This is part of an effort to assist and improve the Nigerians transport system,” he added.

According to him, the scheme will cover only parks owned and operated by members of the Road Transport Workers Association.

He further stressed the need for the government to deepen investments in road infrastructure while ensuring security along the major road.

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