Fear Grips Ex-Directors of Skye Bank, Seek Soft-landing
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Information reaching Business Post indicates that all is not well with former directors of the defunct Skye Bank Plc, following a directive by federal government last week that the former bankers would be used as scapegoat to stop the incessant wrecking financial institutions by their top management staff.
Last week, Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to fully investigate and prosecute all the directors and executive management who contributed to the collapse of Skye Bank as well as other Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in liquidation.
Mrs Ahmed said the failure of Skye Bank must be used as an opportunity to deal decisively with those behind the collapse so as to serve as a deterrent to other operators in the financial system.
According to her, federal government was no longer prepared to treat such serious infractions with levity.
The had Minister expressed her serious concern about the spate of non-performing loans in the banking industry, adding that while the bail-out of distressed financial institutions was necessary in the interest of the stability of the banking system, emphasis should also be placed on the investigation and prosecution of delinquent board directors and executive management of financial intuitions who abused the trust placed on them by depositors.
Soon after this directive, those fingered to be behind the fall of Skye Bank have started to look for ways to get a soft-landing.
According to sources in the banking sector, some of them have started consultations with their lawyers to see how they would not be “heavily dealt with.”
“I can confirm to you that even before the Minister [of Finance] gave the directive [last week], some of the former directors of Skye Bank had been making efforts to get a soft-landing.
“One thing they are aware of is that they might not escape justice because the forces behind their travails are beyond ordinary,” a top management staff of Polaris Bank, who seriously begged not to be named, told our correspondent at the weekend.
In September 2018, the CBN announced the collapse of Skye Bank, naming Polaris Bank as a bridge bank, noting that afterwards that Polaris Bank would run the financial institution until a suitable buyer is found.
In the past, not much had been done to decisively punish directors of failed banks in the country and in most cases; it is the minority shareholders who bear the brunt.
This has led many to believe that government and regulators are mere toothless bulldog, who find pleasure in making more investors lose confidence in the nation’s economy.
When Skye Bank was liquidated, many blamed the CBN, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for it.
Observers believed that these agencies did not do enough to protect interests of shareholders by raising the necessary red flags.
During the visit of the Finance Minister to NDIC last week, its Managing Director, Mr Umaru Ibrahim, assured her the corporation will do all it can to assist in the recovery of all the debts owed the defunct Skye Bank and other banks in liquidation.
He also expressed the agency’s determination to ensure that the directors who perpetrated in insider abuse and other illegalities in running the affairs of the bank are investigated and prosecuted by appropriate authorities.
The primary concern of the NDIC, he assured the Minister, is to ensure the safety of depositors’ funds and minimise the disruption of banking services.
Business Post recalls that last month, Mr Ibrahim had said that a former chairman of Skye Bank, Mr Tunde Ayeni, as well as a director of the defunct bank, Mr Festus Fadeyi, were being investigated by government.
He had disclosed that as soon as investigation was finalised, the necessary action would be taken and those found culpable severely dealt with.
“They are being investigated and I can assure you that when the time comes, the necessary security and law enforcement agencies would do their work,” the NDIC chief said on the sidelines of the International Association of Deposit Insurers (IADI) Africa Regional Committee (ARC) workshop in Lagos in September 2018.
It was alleged that Mr Ayeni and Fadeyi contributed to the downfall of the firm by borrowing huge amount of money that were never repaid.
While Mr Ayeni was said to have borrowed billions of Naira from the firm to fund the acquisitions of the Ibadan and Yola Electricity Distribution Companies; NITEL/M-Tel; and an energy services firm, Ascot Offshore Nigeria Limited; Mr Fadeyi, was accused of using Pan Ocean to obtain loans to fund the firm’s oil and gas upstream projects which were considered as one of the major non-performing loans amongst others.
It was said that the funds pulled out of Skye Bank allegedly by the duo and others led to the total collapse of the bank.
Polaris Bank, Union Bank Restate Commitment to Environmental Sustainability
By Adedapo Adesanya
In commemoration of the 2023 World Environment Day, observed yearly on June 5, Polaris Bank, one of Nigeria’s leading digital financial institutions, has restated its commitment to environmental sustainability in the country.
The annual event is led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is observed globally to encourage awareness and action for the protection of the environment. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event.
The theme of the 2023 World Environment Day was Solutions to plastic pollution, with the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution.
Plastic pollution is a major environmental problem. Every year, millions of tons of plastic waste end up in our oceans, landfills, and waterways. This plastic can harm wildlife, pollute our air and water, and contribute to climate change.
Specifically, and in line with the theme of the 2023 World Environment Day, Polaris Bank said it is taking proactive measures to address challenges of waste management and plastic pollution while supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBPs) and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI’s) Principles of Responsible Banking
Polaris Bank, as part of its environmental sustainability focus, said it has invested in waste management, plastic collection, renewable energy adoption, education, inclusivity, and carbon reduction. The Bank contributes to individuals’ needs and societal goals by implementing sustainable practices and guidelines while ensuring a responsible and environmentally conscious business strategy.
“In managing the environmental impact of its activities, Polaris Bank has made significant efforts to reduce carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. Through using solar energy to power security lights, some ATMs and business locations, and implementing automated systems and digital alternatives to paper output, the bank actively mitigates waste generation and reduces its carbon footprint.
“Polaris Bank has streamlined its vehicle fleet to further minimise its carbon footprint, while most meetings and engagement are held virtually. By prioritizing sustainable energy sources and expanding its network of ATMs, including prestigious off-site locations, the bank ensures convenient and eco-friendly access to banking services.”
The lender took its commitment a step further by partnering with some organizations to help it provide clean water and sanitation in some communities. Its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects are clearly spelt out to reflect adherence to environmental sustainability.
“Additionally, through partnerships with organizations like the United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN), we contributed to providing clean water and enhanced sanitation to local communities in Lagos state.
“We also partnered with the non-profit organization Evolve to launch the Girl Child Education and the Environment CSR program. This initiative strives to keep the girl child in school and educated, thereby reducing early marriages and population explosion, which impacts the Climate.
“This empowers underprivileged girls through education, providing them with school supplies and personal development tools. By supporting over 3,000 female students from 12 secondary schools nationwide, Polaris Bank fosters individual growth and inspires positive contributions to society.
“Polaris Bank’s dedication to environmental sustainability is a key component of its broader vision to create a positive and lasting impact on society. As part of the commemoration of the 2023 World Environment Day, the Bank has established dedicated plastic collection hubs across its branches in Lagos. These hubs serve as convenient drop-off points for responsible disposal of plastic waste for onward recycling while empowering individuals and communities to actively participate in reducing plastic pollution.”
On its part, Union Bank of Nigeria partnered with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) to celebrate the day.
To create awareness of environmental responsibility and encourage collective action, Union Bank employees, together with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, volunteered to educate students at Aguda Junior Grammar School, Surulere, Greg Girls Junior High School, Surulere, and Okun Ajah Community Senior Secondary School, Okun Ajah.
The students were educated on the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on the environment, highlighting the importance of reducing plastic consumption, reusing plastic, and practical tips for sustainable recycling.
The bank also donated waste bins to each school to encourage recycling and make it easier for students to do their part in reducing plastic waste.
Speaking on the Bank’s activities to mark World Environment Day, Union Bank’s Chief Brand and Marketing, Ms Olufunmilola Aluko, said, “At Union Bank, we are resolute in our commitment to being a sustainability champion. This year’s focus on tackling the pervasive issue of plastic pollution resonates deeply with our commitment to environmental sustainability.
“We proudly partner with NCF to educate students on solutions to beat plastic pollution. By raising awareness and advocating for responsible plastic waste management, we can collectively and significantly preserve our planet for future generations.”
With its focus set on the future, Union Bank said it committed to leading the way in shaping a better, more sustainable future for generations to come.
Stanbic IBTC Strongly Advocates Financial Literacy Among Children
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A member of Standard Bank Group, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, has strongly backed the promotion of financial literacy among children, emphasising its unwavering commitment to the upliftment and empowerment of the Nigerian child.
The Head of Client Experience at Stanbic IBTC Pensions, Ms Layo Ilori-Olaogun, while speaking recently at the company’s Blue Kids event to commemorate the 2023 Children’s Day, said that was why the financial institution designed various innovative initiatives for the nation’s future leaders.
She said one of these initiatives is the Children Educational Savings Scheme (CHESS) account, a special savings account developed to support parents in meeting the cash flow and timing needs of their children’s education.
Available for kids between ages zero (0) and 17 years, CHESS offers a low opening balance, a one per cent interest rate above the average savings account, a MasterCard debit card for easy access to funds, round-the-clock access to the customer care centre via phone, email and social media and full digital banking access – Internet, App and USSD, amongst other benefits.
In 2020, Stanbic IBTC kicked off the Stanbic IBTC Education Trust (SET) scheme, a convenient and flexible investment plan with long-term benefits designed to support parents and guardians striving to provide quality education for their children and wards.
One unique benefit of Stanbic IBTC Education Trust is that payments are effected directly to the institution of learning, ensuring no diversion of funds. Whether it is primary, secondary, tertiary, or post-graduate education, parents and guardians can now contribute to funding their children’s and wards’ education.
Ms Ilori-Olaogun described Stanbic IBTC’s Education Endowment Assurance as another remarkable initiative and a vehicle for saving that secures a child’s future education to a targeted amount. It is a policy that guarantees peace of mind on a child’s/ward’s education and benefits one’s dependents in case of death.
Also at the event, the Head of Personal Clients at Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr Emmanuel Aihevba, expressed his heartfelt wishes to all Nigerian children, emphasising their importance to the nation’s progress.
“Children’s Day serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of nurturing and safeguarding the younger generation, who represent the future leaders and change-makers of the country.
“Stanbic IBTC recognises its critical role in promoting children’s wellbeing and educational development and remains steadfast in its efforts to provide support and resources that contribute to their growth,” he said.
At the Blue Kids programme, the participants were engaged in innovative and exciting activities such as a creative class, gaming activities, a financial fitness session and more.
Zenith Bank’s Ebenezer Onyeagwu Emerges Best Banking CEO in Africa
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The International Banker has announced the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr Ebenezer Onyeagwu, as the Best Banking CEO of the Year in Africa.
Published by Finance Publishing Limited, the International Banker is a leading global source of authoritative analysis and opinion on banking, finance and world affairs. Its influence, integrity, accuracy and objective opinion have earned it global recognition.
In its International Banker 2023 Banking Awards, published in the Spring 2023 issue of the International Banker Magazine, Mr Onyeagwu was honoured alongside other individuals and banks from the Middle East and Africa.
The Nigerian banker, while commenting on the honour bestowed on him, said the award “reflects the bank’s position as a leading financial institution in Nigeria and the African continent.”
“It also attests to our commitment to principles of sustainability and high ethical standards, which have become integral to our overall strategy as an institution,” he added.
Mr Onyeagwu dedicated it to the founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia, for his guidance and mentorship.
He also dedicated the award to the bank’s management team and staff for being the shoulder upon which his achievements and success as CEO rests, and the bank’s customers for making Zenith Bank their bank of choice.
This latest award is coming barely three months after he was conferred with a Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The degree was in recognition of his immense achievements as the head of Zenith Bank as well as his contributions to the growth of the financial services sector in Nigeria and across the African continent.
Mr Onyeagwu’s outstanding career has led to him receiving multiple awards, including Bank CEO of the Year (2019) by Champion Newspaper, Bank CEO of the Year (2020, 2021 & 2022) by BusinessDay Newspaper, CEO of the Year (2020 and 2021) – SERAS Awards, and CEO of the Year (2022) – Leadership Newspaper.
As the GMD of Zenith Bank, he has led the tier-one lender to achieve tremendous feats and milestones in financial performance, including 47 per cent growth in the bank’s market capitalisation in four years, financial inclusion, corporate governance and sustainability.
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