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First Bank Saga: CBN Reaffirms Authority, Reinstate Adesola as MD

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By Adekunle Abolaji

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has sacked the Board of Directors of First Bank of Nigeria and reinstated Adesola Adeduntan as the Managing Director.

The apex bank also appointed new Directors comprising Dr Fatade Abiodun Oluwole, Kofo Dosekun, Remi Lasaki, Dr Alimi Abdulrasaq, Ahmed Modibbo, Khalifa Imam, Sir Peter Aliogo, and UK Eke (Managing Director) as Directors of FBN Holdings Plc. Remi Babalola was appointed as the Chairman.

The reaffirmation of Adesola Adeduntan as the Managing Director of First Bank by the central bank is a strategic and bold decision aimed at stabilizing Nigeria’s financial sector.

Adesola Adeduntan, the Managing Director of First Bank is a miracle-working banker. Unlike the middling marabou, his miracles aren’t deceptive in nature rather each one is an event that creates faith in his abilities as fiscal guru and bank chief. Adeduntan is not just an administrative Managing Director (MD) but a seasoned leader.

Administrators are always cheap and easy to find, and even cheaper to keep but leaders are worth their weight in gold. Leaders are risk-takers and they are often in very short supply; ones with enduring vision, however, like Adeduntan, are pure gold.

When he assumed the mantle of leadership at First Bank, pundits believed he had come in to play the role of an undertaker due to the destructive plunder visited on the bank by its previous directors.

However, Adeduntan eventually rescued the bank from collapse. Besides entrenching a culture of professionalism and excellent results in the bank, he ensured that there are no more dirty deals going on within the bank’s halls.

There’s sanity in First Bank even as you read. The bank chief understands that leadership is not just about operationalising some empty formulae but establishing a deep connection at the group and personal levels through service, determination, uprightness, and poise.

Within the period, he has transformed the bank via visionary initiatives and he has also done a great deal to reclaim debts owed the bank by defaulting clients. Since he assumed leadership, he has outlawed dirty loan deals and is currently on a very successful crusade to reclaim huge loan debts from the bank’s chronic debtors.

Little wonder some disgruntled elements within the bank want him out by all possible means.

According to the letter doing the rounds and also signed by Haruna B. Mustafa, this particular letter noted that CBN’s attention had been drawn to media reports that the Board of Directors had approved the removal of the current Managing Director of the bank, Dr Sola Adeduntan and appointed a successor.

The apex bank stated that it was concerned that this action was taken without due consultation with the regulatory authorities especially given the systemic importance of First Bank Ltd.

The bank noted that since Adeduntan’s tenure was yet to expire and there was no report from the Board of any infraction, there, therefore, appears to be no apparent justification for the removal.

The CBN said it was particularly concerned because the purported removal of Adeduntan was coming at a time the CBN has provided various liquidity support to reposition the bank.

“It is also curious that 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,” it added.

“The removal of a sitting MD/CEO of a systematically important bank that has been under regulatory forbearance for 5 to 6 years without prior consultation and justifiable basis has dire implications for the bank and also portends significant risks to the stability of the financial system.

Dr Adesola was appointed the Executive Director/Group Chief Financial Officer of First Bank, in July 2014. As the Executive Director/Group CFO, he handled the banks’ financial control, internal control and enhancement, business performance management, treasury and procurement functions.

After 2years with First Bank, Dr Adesola was appointed the Managing Director of the bank, succeeding Bisi Onasanya. He resumed the role on the 4th of January 2016.

Dr Adesola’s office covers the bank’s commercial banking subsidiaries which include: FBN UK, FBN Ghana, FBN DRC, FBN Guinea, FBN Gambia, FBN Mortgages, and First Pension Custodian Limited.

After Adesola concluded his compulsory NYSC service year, he got a job at the main branch of Afribank (Nig) Plc, Ibadan, as a graduate trainee. He worked at Afribank for 18 months, carrying out different banking operations, including cash management, clearing, credit risk management, and foreign operations.

Dr Adesola left Afribank in September 1995 and started working with Arthur Andersen Nigeria. He rose to a managerial role in the firms’ financial department, before leaving the firm in May 2002.

As a manager, Dr Adesola pioneered and supervised the statutory audit of some leading Nigerian banks. Before he became a manager, he was the lead instructor of the local office basic accounting training and induction course in 1999. In 2000, he served as an instructor at the Andersen World-Wide induction training for new hires in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Adekunle Abolaji, a Business Journalist, wrote from Lagos.

Banking

Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management

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Polaris Bank Rewards Customers

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.

It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.

In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.

The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.

“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.

“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.

Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”

 “The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.

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Banking

Wema Bank Refutes Dud Cheque, Forgery Allegations

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The management of Wema Bank Plc has rubbished an allegation that it issued a dud cheque in connection with a garnishee proceeding for the payment of a judgement debt on behalf of the Bayelsa State Government.

A legal practitioner, Mr George Haliday, had accused the financial institution of issuing dud cheques but in a statement issued on Wednesday, the lender explained that the cheques have only not been cleared for payment because of the subsisting appeal at the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on the garnishee proceeding which has now been decided in its favour.

According to the statement, the lawyer only ran to the Magistrate Court in Abuja to lodge a complaint about the issuance of dud cheques after he lost his case at the appellate court.

“It is very worthy of note that the judgement debt against Bayelsa State Government, which Barrister George Haliday attempted to enforce by a garnishee proceeding, thereby leading to the issuance of the cheques in question had been settled by Bayelsa State Government via a Terms of Settlement between Barrister George Haliday and the Bayelsa State Government at the Supreme Court,” a part of the statement.

Recently, there were reports that the Managing Director/CEO of Wema Bank, Mr Ademola Adebise, was issued an arrest warrant, but the bank dismissed this, saying its leader was not given a fair hearing in the matter.

“Wema Bank wishes to state that the warrant for the arrest of Mr Ademola Adebise is in violation of his fundamental rights to fair hearing as he was never personally served with any process to appear before the magistrate court nor was he represented in court.

“We are a law-abiding corporate citizen; if there was any court summons properly served on the Managing Director for his appearance in court, he would have done so without fail.

“But in this case, there was no such service extended to him or any court processes personally served on him to appear in court until a warrant of arrest was issued in absentia. We view the arrest warrant as being an infringement on his fundamental rights,” the statement said.

Concluding, the lender emphatically refuted and dismissed “in their entirety, the allegations of dud cheque and forgery levelled against our bank and the Managing Director. We also dismiss the inappropriate issuance of a bench warrant on our Managing Director.

“We are already engaging in legitimate actions to seek redress and bring all the perpetrators of these unprofessional conducts and heinous criminal acts against our Managing Director and the bank to book.”

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Banking

Advans Nigeria Becomes Most Innovative Microfinance Bank

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Advans MFB

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

More big feathers have been added to the colourful cap of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, cementing its leadership position in the small lending business in Nigeria.

Recently, in recognition of its customer-centric credentials and innovation in product development, service delivery and brand management, the financial institution was named the Best Microfinance Bank in Nigeria at the Financial Derivatives Awards 2022.

Also, the company emerged as the Most Innovative Microfinance Bank in Nigeria in the Global Brands Magazine and World Economic Magazine Awards 2022.

The Managing Director/CEO of Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Gaetan Debuchy, while reacting to the accolades bestowed on the firm, dedicated the awards to the working management and staff of the bank, promising that the bank would continue to break boundaries.

“We are excited to win these awards. It further validates our innovative approach to providing customer-centric, affordable and transparent financial services,” Mr Debuchy said.

Also, the Head of Marketing and Communication at Advans La Fayette Microfinance Bank, Mr Kayode Abraham, stated that, “Over the years, we have centred our business on customer needs and feedback, which has helped us develop financial solutions from scratch to completion. We are pleased to be recognised as the most innovative and best microfinance bank in Nigeria.”

Earlier in the year, Advans Nigeria upgraded its mobile banking app ‘Adspire’ to include users’ ability to request bank statements and control their daily transaction limit. Through the app, clients can receive notifications and share by referring their friends and loved ones.

The bank recently introduced a micro-health insurance product and an education loan to facilitate financial inclusion.

The health insurance product was designed to ensure existing and prospective clients have access to high-quality and affordable health care services, while the education loan was designed to provide working and investment capital for school owners and to assist parents in paying their children’s school fees with ease.

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