The U.S. Mission will prioritize student visa applicants and ensure Nigerian students resuming this Fall get visa interview appointments well in advance of their program start date.
U.S. Mission Country Consular Coordinator Susan Tuller announced on Friday that the Embassy in Abuja and Consulate General in Lagos will make every effort to assist student visa applicants in a timely fashion while keeping personnel and customers safe.
“As we continue to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and customers, processing student visas remains a high priority for the U.S. Mission in Nigeria,” Country Consular Coordinator Tuller said. “We will increase the number of student visa appointments in May and June to ensure that we can offer appointments to as many students as possible. If your U.S. studies are scheduled to begin this Fall, we encourage you to schedule your appointment as quickly as possible.”
Tuller explained that all student visa appointments must be booked through the U.S. Travel Docs website at www.ustraveldocs.com/ng/. She warned applicants against the use of third-party services, including touts, and fixers who broker visa appointments.
According to her, agents or third parties often seek to benefit by charging a fee for their services and they may not always provide the correct information, which can harm an applicant’s chances of qualifying for the visa.
“Both Nigeria and the United States benefit when Nigerian students study at one of our world-class educational institutions. To prepare for your U.S. educational opportunity, we encourage you to check out EducationUSA Advising Centers at our American Spaces in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, and Calabar, or at educationUSA.state.gov,” she added.
Nigeria sends more students to American colleges and universities than any other country in Africa and is the eleventh largest source worldwide of international students to the United States. In academic year 2019-2020, a record-breaking number of nearly 14,000 Nigerians pursued graduate and undergraduate degrees in the United States.
Over the last 21 years, the EducationUSA Advising Centers in Nigeria have directly contributed to an increase in the number of highly qualified Nigerian applicants to U.S. institutions. In 2020, advisees of EducationUSA services received scholarships worth $28 million.
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
CBN Sacks Boards of First Bank, FBN Holdings, Appoints Replacements
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.
National ID Projects: Nigeria Wasted $2.5 Billion In 45 Years – Aladekomo
Nigeria may have lost about $2.5 billion dollars in the last 45 years due to poor implementation of several failed national identity projects according to Sir Demola Aladekomo, Chairman of Chams Plc.
Aladekomo disclosed this while speaking on the topic titled: Socio-Economic Benefits of Shifting Paradigms, at a forum organized by the University of Lagos MBA 83-84 class.
Aladekomo painted even a grimmer picture said, “we may even waste another borrowed $400 million by end of 2021 with the non-clarity in the management of various ID projects in the country.”
With about 210 million Nigerians yet to be identified fully, he foresees increase chaos, anarchy, militancy, banditry, kidnapping, nepotism, secession calls, corruption and blatant stealing. “This will further be exacerbated in 2050 when our population is estimated to be about 400 million if not gotten right at this stage,” Aladekomo said.
For him, just because we do not know and cannot manage our people without proper identity management, the country will be faced continuously with challenging socio-economic imperatives especially in our education, health sector, infrastructure development, security, rule of law and so on. This he said were gravely exposed in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He however, called for paradigm shift in three areas: prioritizing data and technology, multi-agency approach, and private sector involvement. “Technologies have changed the landscape, digital economy is the new play, we need databases at national, state, agencies and sectoral levels. These data need to be domicile in Nigeria while local technologies should be encouraged,” he said.
In addition, “Our private sector should be deliberately promoted to be involved in the execution of our national identity projects because with them there will be cost effective delivery, speed of execution, and attraction of funding/investment. Moreover, many of them have the right and most suited technology for our peculiar environment.” Aladekomo added.
In his contribution, a software developer, Felix Adejimi said, while data is the fuel of modern economy and digital transformation is the driver, Nigeria as a nation, needs to take it seriously. He encouraged government to focus more on providing enabling and secure environment for private companies.
The Managing Director of HISPLUS, Tunde Omitogun on is part, encouraged the nation to act fast and implement some of the points highlighted at the forum. The event which was the first in a series was moderated by Prof. Lere Baale, Chief Executive of Business School Netherlands (BSN) in Nigeria.
The programme was attended by the former Executive Director of First Bank plc, Kehinde Lawanson; Samson Omolorhe, President of the University of Lagos MBA 83-84 class; and Prof. Tokunbo Onabanjo. Others include members of Fintech 1000 Plus Group such as James Agada, Niyi Ajao, Emeka Okoye, Moses Braimah, Deremi Atanda, amongst others.
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