The Central Bank of Nigeria has sacked the board of directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited and FBN Holdings Plc and has appointed a new set of directors for the two companies with immediate effect.
CBN had this afternoon queried the Board of the bank for removing Adesola Adeduntan as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, and appointing Gbenga Shobo as MD/CEO designate without regulatory approval.
The CBN had also faulted the appointment of Abdullahi Ibrahim as deputy managing director, as well as the appointment of Ini Ebong, Segun Alebiosu, Seyi Oyefeso and Bashirat Odunewu, as executive directors.
Addressing the media, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced the sacking of all members of the board of the bank for the supposed affront. Emefiele also reinstated Adeduntan as the MD/CEO of the bank.
- Emefiele announced the appointment of Tunde Hassan-Odukale as Chairman of First Bank Limited while Remi Babalola will serve as Chairman of FBN Holdings.
The text of his media briefing are reproduced below:
“The media has been awash with commentaries on the purported management changes at First Bank of Nigeria Ltd (FBN) and the related regulatory inquiry by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Board of First Bank of Nigeria Limited. It has therefore become necessary for me to address the public to clear any misconceptions.
“Ordinarily the board is vested with the authority to make changes in the management team subject to CBN approval. However, the CBN considers itself a key stakeholder in management changes involving FBN due to the forbearances and close monitoring by the Bank over the last 5 years aimed at stemming the slide in the going concern status of the bank. It was therefore surprising for the CBN to learn through media reports that the board of directors of FBN, a systemically important bank under regulatory forbearance regime had effected sweeping changes in executive management without engagement and/or prior notice to the regulatory authorities. The action by the board of FBN sends a negative signal to the market on the stability of leadership on the board and management and it is in light of the foregoing that the CBN queried the board of directors on the unfortunate developments at the bank.
“As you may be aware, FBN is one of the systemically important banks in the Nigerian banking sector given its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers, amongst others. By our last assessment, FBN has over 31m customers, with deposit base of N4.2trn, shareholders funds of N618bn and NIBSS instant payment (NIP) processing capacity of 22% of the industry. To us at the CBN, not only is it imperative to protect the minority shareholders, that have no voice to air their views, also important, is the protection of the over 31m customers of the bank who see FBN as a safe haven for their hard-earned savings.
“The bank maintained healthy operations up until 2016 financial year when the CBN’s target examination revealed 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.
“The problems at the bank were attributed to bad credit decisions, significant and non-performing insider loans and poor corporate governance practices. The shareholders of the bank and FBN Holding Plc also lacked the capacity to recapitalize the bank to minimum requirements. This conclusions arose from various entreaties by the CBN to them to recapitalize.
“The CBN stepped in to stabilize the bank in its quest to maintain financial stability, especially given FBN’s systemic importance as enumerated earlier. Regulatory action taken by the CBN in this regard included:
- Change of management team under the CBN’s supervision with the appointment of a new Managing Director/ Chief Executive Office in January 2016.
- Grant of the regulatory forbearances to enable the bank work out its non-performing loans through provision for write off of at least N150b from its earning for four consecutive years.
- Grant of concession to insider borrower to restructure their non-performing credit facilities under very stringent conditions
- Renewal of the forbearances on a yearly basis between 2016 and 2020 following thorough monitoring of progress towards exiting from the forbearance measures
“The measures had yielded the expected results as the financial condition of FBN improved progressively between 2016 when the forbearance was initially granted to the current financial year. For instance, profitability, liquidity and CAR improved whilst NPL reduced significantly.
“Notwithstanding the significant improvement in the bank’s financial condition with positive trajectory of financial soundness indicators, the insider related facilities remained problematic.
“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 restructure 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
“Following further review of the situation and in order to preserve stability of the bank, so as to protect minority shareholders and depositors, the Management of the CBN in line with its powers under BOFIA 2020 has approved and hereby directs:
- Immediate removal of the all directors of FBN Ltd and FBN Holdings Plc
- The appointment of the following persons as directors in FBN Ltd and FBN Holdings Plc
- Chairman – Remi Babalola
- Dr. Fatade Abiodun Oluwole
- Kofo Dosekun
- Remi Lasaki
- Dr Alimi Abdulrasaq
- Ahmed Modibbo
- Khalifa Imam
- Sir Peter Aliogo
- UK Eke – Managing Director
- Chairman – Tunde Hassan-Odukale
- Tokunbo Martins
- Uche Nwokedi
- Adekunle Sonola
- Isioma Ogodazi
- Ebenezer Olufowose
- Ishaya Elijah B. Dodo
- Sola Adeduntan – Managing Director
- Gbenga Shobo – Deputy Managing Director
- Remi Oni – Executive Director
- Abdullahi Ibrahim – Executive Director
“The CBN hereby reassures the depositors, creditors and other stakeholders of the bank of its commitment to ensure the stability of the financial system. There is therefore no cause for panic amongst the banking public, given that the actions being taken are meant to strengthen the bank and position it as a banking industry giant.,” Emefiele ended his speech.
Africa Digital Economy Forum Moves to Promote Digital Enablement across Continent
The Africa Digital Economy Forum (ADEF) a non-profit initiative geared towards the realisation of full digitization of Africa’s economies has been launched.
The need for digitisation of economies globally, particularly in Africa cannot be overemphasized. Hence the birth of the Africa Digital Economy Forum (ADEF), a forum opened to local and international individuals and organisations that play in the digital technology space state and non-state C-level executives in the digital sector.
The ADEF, which draws outstanding support from across the continent, will drive digitisation across the continent through four channels, namely Intelligence, Advocacy, Campaigning, and Fundraising. Via Intelligence, ADEF will promote and conduct strategic research in areas of Digital Economy as they reflect its overall goal and vision for the African continent. The ADEF will carry out research to positively and sustainably impact the largest number of people; and to influence the adoption and scale-up of high-impact, cost-effective programs and policies in Digital Economy settings.
Through Advocacy, ADEF will work with other stakeholders to advocate for right policies, causes and actions on issues pertaining to the promotion of digital economy across the continent in line with our mission and vision. ADEF will also conduct a variety of campaigning or awareness efforts designed around our programmes and objectives on achieving sustainable and beneficial digital economy in Africa. Campaign will involve physical, real live events, real life or virtual symposia, workshops, letters to government officials, press releases, email or social media campaigns.
ADEF will work with other stakeholders to advocate for right policies, causes and actions on issues pertaining promotion of digital economy across the continent in line with our mission and vision. According to ADEF’s President, Mr. Teniola Olusola, African countries are making transitions to becoming technology-enabled economies.
“Africa is on the verge of new unfettered opportunities leveraging technology and innovation – fully capitalizing on the expected boom in the digital economy. There are inherent opportunities for digital economy in such common policy drives as the Continental Free Trade Area and the World Bank-supported African Union’s ‘moonshot’ project (designed to ensure high-speed connectivity across the entire continent).” He said.
“To fully tap into these opportunities, the ADEF believes the continent must rework its policy and regulatory frameworks to provide the required sustainable environment for new ICT investment that will enhance connectivity, create innovative enterprises, provide digital skills, and generally improve the lives of over 1.5 billion Africans,” the president explained.
The Founding CEO, Mr. Akin Naphtal, added that the ADEF is the common platform for technology and service providers focusing on the transformative powers of Africa’s steadily growing and booming digital economy.
According to Co-founder, Olusegun Oruame, “Africa’s ability to leapfrog and be part of 4IR rests on the digital economy. ADEF provides a networking and advocacy platform to engage and collaborate with other stakeholders including governments, private sector, academia, national and international bodies, etc. ADEF offers that critical mass of knowledge to promote frameworks to maximize the potential dividends of a thriving digital economy beneﬁcial to all Africans.”
With a mission statement that talks about a commitment to the expansion of connectivity, access to affordable data, promotion of innovation and full digitization of African nations’ economies as the basis for development and a vision statement of leveraging media to expand opportunities in digital economy for Africans, ADEF is focused on the full realization of digitization of Africa’s economies. All stakeholders in the ICT space are welcome to be a part of this initiative. Further details about membership, and the forum itself can be found on: www.theadef.com
UK to Support Nigerian Female GreenTech Entrepreneurs to Scale
The UK Government, through its UK-Nigeria Tech Hub, has launched a Green Tech Programme, which will support 30 Nigerian female green-tech entrepreneurs with 12 weeks coaching sessions with industry experts.
These coaching sessions would seek to boost the capacity of the entrepreneurs, as well as the likelihood of the enterprises to scale and become more sustainable businesses.
The Hub, in collaboration with Future Females as the implementing partner, has taken this next step as part of its pledge to help drive clean, resilient and inclusive recoveries in Nigeria – shaping the low carbon economy of the future that will create new jobs, attract green investment and protect the environment for future generations.
The programme targeted at Nigerian female entrepreneurs with early-stage businesses aimed at protecting the environment and conserving natural resources using alternative technologies that are less harmful to the environment, will run virtually for three months and will cover 10 actionable modules that take entrepreneurs through the fundamental building blocks of starting and growing a GreenTech business.
Speaking on this, the British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones said: “As the world looks to build back better from the COVID 19 Pandemic, which has affected millions of lives and adversely affected economies, it is important to remember that we are still tackling an even greater crisis – climate change. The UK, as the host of the 2021 UN Climate Change summit is working hard in advance of COP26 to increase the level of global ambition necessary to ensure that we are on track to limit global warming to below 2 degrees.
“The UK, as a bilateral partner, is committed to supporting Nigeria in delivering an accelerated and just transition, not only to meet the climate imperative but to ensure the country is at the forefront of shifts in the global economy. Like the transition itself, this support is at all levels – from £200 million flowing into major clean technology programmes through International Climate Finance to entrepreneurs, to designing and developing small and micro-enterprise sustainable companies of the future.”
The UK-Nigeria Tech Hub Interim Country Director, Lamide Johnson said: “Climate Change remains a priority for the UK-Government. We are pleased to have partnered with Future Females to help and support Green Tech Female Business entreprenuers in Nigeria who are tirelessly working hard to promote the use of technology to solve problems caused by climate change, and invariably promote a greener world.”
Commenting on the GreenTech programme launch, Future Females Co-Founder, Cerina Bezuidenhout said: “At Future Females, we have always been passionate about supporting sustainable businesses, and we are very excited to be focusing on GreenTech businesses in our partnership with UK-Nigeria Tech Hub. The entrepreneurs who participate in our programmes are not just building businesses – they’re creating innovative solutions to real problems we’re facing in this ‘new’ world, and they are a source of hope for their communities – and we can’t wait to meet them.”
The programme is set to commence on May 24th 2021 and applications to participate will close on Friday, 7th of May 2021, all interested Nigerian female green-tech entreprenuers can apply here- https://futurefemales.typeform.com/to/hg6bBbv9
Strengthening Fintech Ecosystem through Partnerships
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” This statement aptly describes the success achieved in the financial and payment landscape in Nigeria through the strategic partnership between fintechs and banks in the financial services industry.
Years ago, daring criminals would unleash mayhem on unsuspecting victims coming from banking halls and dispossess them of their valuables. This was because consumers had to move around with cash.
At the time, majority of the people living in both urban and rural areas were unbanked and did not have access to financial products and services.
But as technology evolved and digitalization of businesses became imperative to fit current realities, banks had to re-evaluate their service model and operational strategies. The need to transition into a digital wholesale banking system was inevitable.
Adoption of technology in service delivery such as banking, e-commerce, logistics etc. has contributed to the growth of the fintech companies. With collaboration, fintechs have increasingly developed solutions that have been deployed across industries to enhance payment collection, efficiency and fund security. These partnerships between the fintechs and industry players have helped to accelerate product innovation, drive growth and provide topnotch solutions across board.
The partnership between the fintech and the banking community has brought about innovative solutions such as funds transfer, on-demand bank statement, instant transaction alerts, payment authorization, loan request and disbursement, etc. Thanks to this innovative payment solutions, bank customers and account holders do not have to visit the banks often as they can initiate and complete transactions from the comfort of their homes.
Also, fintechs have leveraged partnerships with other service providers, such as power distribution companies (DISCOs), telecoms companies, ride-hailing services and utility companies to strengthen the payment ecosystem. These partnerships have further deepened financial inclusion and increased adoption of digital payment solutions, enhanced access to loans and other financial services such as funds transfer, bill payments, DSTV subscription, airtime recharge, and so on. These partnerships have helped the service providers collect payment seamlessly as well as allowed the customers to pay with ease.
Following these partnerships, Nigeria has witnessed an increase in the adoption of electronic payments over the last few years. Data shows the value of transactions via digital payment platforms, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System Instant Payment System (NIP) and Point of Sales (PoS) terminals rose to N60.34 trillion in the first quarter of 2021. That was a 12.55% increase when compared to the N53.61 trillion achieved in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Taking into cognizance that strategic partnerships help to strengthen payment solutions and are pivotal to economic growth, Africa’s leading digital payment and e-commerce company, Interswitch Group, has collaborated with several companies across industries to provide the broadest set of financial solutions to financial institutions across Africa.
Since its inception, Interswitch has been providing the switching infrastructure that connects different banks in Nigeria to reconcile inter-bank payments and settlements. Its solutions are also used to deliver the technology used for Automated Teller Machines (ATM) and PoS.
Following the acquisition of a minority stake by Visa in Interswitch in 2019, Interswitch is today the most valuable African Fintech business with a valuation in excess of $1 billion hence its recognition as a Unicorn. The partnership with Visa, allowed the Fintech Unicorn to expand its digital payment solutions across the continent.
Beyond partnerships with brands, Interswitch has also partnered governments across the continent to integrate its digital payment solutions to expand their inter-bank settlement capacities. These partnerships have enhanced the digital payment ecosystem, helped shape the much-needed financial transformation as well as boosted the African economy.
According to Tomi Ogunlesi, Group Head, Corporate Marketing, “Over the years, we have been making major strides in delivering world-class financial solutions to customers across the world. Through strategic partnerships, Interswitch has also reached major milestones and deepened access to financial services.”
In furtherance of its commitment to help strengthen the financial services industry, Interswitch recently revamped its developer console to improve the experiences of partners, developers and merchants who seek to integrate with their solutions.
Essentially, this platform enables developers to try out their products before going to the market. The new Interswitch APIs enable developers create innovative tools and products, and provides self-service integration, giving developers the ability to access Interswitch’s product APIs, authentication parameters, sandbox, production keys, documentation and seamless project management.
Indeed, the fusion between Fintechs, banks, and other service providers as strategic partners would not only enable them deliver satisfactory services to their numerous customers, it will help grow the payment ecosystem and also contribute immensely to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
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