By Eric Elezuo
Nigeria’s premier bank, FirstBank Nigeria, has reiterated its commitment to continue to provide quality service to its over 15 million customers, create value and exhibit wholesome team work and coordination among its staff.
The remark was the collective stand point of the bank’s principal officers as it holds a 125 kilometres relay walk to celebrate the banks 125 years of uninterrupted existence as a heavyweight in the financial institutions and general corporate world.
The walk which took place simultaneously at major FirstBank stations across Nigeria, was described as a significant activity to prove that achievements involve everyone committing his own quota for the common good of the whole organization.
Speaking at the Mobolaji Bank Anthony, Ikeja branch of the bank, which hosted one of the walks, the Executive Director, Corporate Banking, Dr. Remi Oni, stated ‘that it takes collaboration, working together, teamwork, empowering ourselves to be able to achieve what we have’.
He pointed out that everyone else’s tiny bit of cooperation contributes to what the bank has achieved.
He also said that the exchange of baton is “significant in the sense that it suggests that the present group has done their part and has passed on to the next generation that will continue the milestone achievements the bank is known for.”
The walk moved to the headquarters at Marina where the leadership and major customers of the bank assembled.
In his speech, the Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, said the bank remains committed to value creation and effective service delivery to all stakeholders in the years ahead.
He said the bank would continue to provide standard services and products to its customers and stakeholders for value creation to maintain its market share.
“What we intend to deliver to them will go up in terms of quality and in terms of value,” he said.
Adeduntan reiterated Dr. Oni’s stand that the Relay Walk was very significant because it shows greatness and synergy.
He explained that the 125km was a representation of the collaborative effort of not just FirstBank but all its entities.
“The 125km is a mark of our incredible journey of delivering impeccable financial services to our customers as we leave no stone unturned to remain an icon of admiration in today’s financial services industry in Africa.
“The Relay Walk is very significant and symbolic.
“It’s symbolic because it’s a collaborative efforts not just FirstBank but other operating entities within the FBN Holdings family.
“We came together to organise a relay and the significance is when you think of a relay, when you think of 125, if you want to run a relay of 125 on your own as an individual you can get tired but when you collaborate together you can achieve it.”
Adeduntan said the walk signified power synergy, noting that the leadership of the institution had moved from individual to individual, generation to generation in the last 125 years.
“What we are doing is to pass on the baton of this relay to the next generation of our staff,” he said.
In his remarks, the Group Managing Director, FBN Holdings Plc, Urum Kalu Eke, said the bank had been able to create a network of partners in the past 125 years.
“What we have been able to achieve today by the Relay Walk is to create a network of partners.
“No other institution in Nigeria has achieved this and we belong to a unique club globally of those that have clocked 125 years and more and we are proud of this day.”
Eke said the passing of baton showed that the bank had come to stay with successive leadership team, team spirit, innovation and self development.
The Group Chairman, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, on her part, said the bank would continue to be the number one in the industry with long enduring legacy of value creation.
“If you had the kind of legacy we have had, we are 125 years, you can only look forward to the future.
“When you remember that the only way you can have the opportunity to celebrate 125 years today is because at different times, different generations from the least to the highest worker have added value and created value.”
Also speaking, the Head, Marketing and Corporate Communication, Mrs. Folake Ani-Mumuney, said the bank would remain committed to helping customers build and grow their businesses as it has been committed to creating value for 125 years and counting.
She said: “We will continue to partner with our regulators to make sure there is strong robust financial services system in Nigeria.“
The anniversary celebration continues with more activities including a Jumat service on Friday, March 22, Church Thanksgiving service on Sunday, March 24 while a lecture will take place on Tuesday, March 26 with a prolific guest speaker, followed by a gala night.
CBN Declares No Going Back on Cashless Policy, Says only 10% of Customers to Be Affected
The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday said it would continue to implement the cashless policy in line with its mandate to ensure an efficient payment system.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said this while briefing journalists shortly after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting.
He said that contrary to claims in some quarters that many Nigerians would suffer the negative impact of the policy, only about five to 10 per of bank customers would be affected.
The apex bank had in a circular to Deposit Money Banks stated that from Wednesday, September 18, it would impose three per cent processing fees on withdrawals and two per cent processing fees on lodgements of amounts above N500, 000 for individual accounts.
For corporate accounts, the apex bank in the circular said that DMBs would charge five per cent processing fees on withdrawals and three processing fee on lodgements of amounts above N3m.
The House of Representatives had on Thursday through a resolution directed the apex bank to suspend the policy.
But responding to the development, Emefiele said if the Nigerian economy was to compete effectively with those of developed countries, a payment system that encourages the use of non-cash channels was desirable.
He said that before the cashless policy was first inaugurated in 2012, a lot of stakeholder engagements were done to sensitise Nigerians on its benefits.
He said the policy was suspended in 2014 to allow more payment channels to be developed by Deposit Money Banks.
The governor said that since the policy was suspended, currency management cost had continued to increase year-on-year at an average annual growth rate of 33 per cent.
However, he said the bank had continued to provide alternative channels, adding that people had embraced it.
He said Point of Sale transactions had moved from N48bn in 2012 to N2.2tn while electronic transfer had moved from N3.8tn in 2012 to N80.46tn in 2018.
Emefiele said, “Since the policy was first launched, currency management costs have continued to increase year-on-year at an average annual growth rate of 33 per cent.
“Notwithstanding, electronic transactions have increased within the economy. We have provided alternative channels and people have embraced it.
“This is a strategic timing of these actions because on Monday, September 23rd, the mutual evaluation by GIABA (Inter-governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa) on the country’s anti-money laundry and CFT (Combating Financing of Terrorism) regime will begin.
“Passing the mutual evaluation positions Nigeria as a safe and credible destination for financial transactions across the world.
“GIABA will be in Nigeria to access the rate at which Nigeria has embraced anti-money laundry and CFT regime. It is important that we display and show to them that Nigeria is indeed in conformity with their practices as enshrined in their anti-money laundry and CFA laws.”
The apex bank boss said if the CBN did not implement the cashless policy, credit cards owned by Nigerians might not be used abroad.
On the Value Added Tax, he said the MPC supported the decision of the Federal Government to increase the rate from five per cent to 7.5 per cent.
He said with Nigeria having one of the lowest VAT rate in the world, and faced with fiscal challenge, the best way to shore up revenue was to increase tax.
He said, “The MPC endorsed the increase in the VAT rate from five per cent to 7.5 per cent. The government has the responsibility to fend for everybody.
“In fending for everybody means that it has to spend money to provide infrastructure – roads, airports, different things that will improve the lives of its people.
“There are two ways through which government can fund these expenditures. It’s either it raises revenue or goes for debt. You all know that the government has been criticised that the debt stock is too high.
“You all know that government debt service ratios are too high. What that means is that your revenue is small because if your revenue is large, then your debt service ratios will be lower.”
He added, “If we say government should not borrow; then, government must raise revenue. If government must raise revenue and we think this is one way government can raise revenue to meet its obligation.”
Emefiele said while the decision to increase VAT might be painful to Nigerians, the benefit of such move far outweighed the cost.
On the Monetary Policy Rate, Emefiele said this was left unchanged at 13.5 per cent.
He explained that nine out of the 11 members that attended the meeting unanimously agreed to hold the monetary policy stance.
The governor said apart from the MPR that was retained at 13.5 per cent, the committee decided to hold the Cash Reserves Ratio at 22.5 per cent.
Also retained are the Liquidity Ratio, which was left at 30 per cent; and the Asymmetric Window which was left at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.
Explaining the rationale for the decision, he said the MPC felt compelled to review the options of whether to tighten, hold or loosen.
CBN Introduces Charges on Deposits, Withdrawals Above N500, 000
The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday said that the nationwide implementation of the cashless policy will begin by March 2020.
The apex bank said this in a circular to all Deposit Money Banks in the country.
It said that implementation of the policy would signal the imposition of charges on deposits in addition to already existing charges on withdrawals.
According to the circular, the charges, which take effect from Wednesday (today) will attract three per cent processing fees for withdrawals and two per cent processing fees for lodgments of amounts above N500, 000 for individual accounts.
For corporate accounts, the apex bank in the circular said that DMBs would charge five per cent processing fees for withdrawals and three per cent processing fee for lodgments of amounts above N3, 000, 000.
The statement, however, disclosed that the charge on deposits would apply in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, and Rivers States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
It added that the implementation of the cashless policy would take effect from March 31, 2020.
To further promote the cashless policy and enhance the collection of applicable government revenues, the CBN also announced a review of the process for merchant settlement.
It added that with effect from Tuesday, September 17, the CBN had given approval for banks to unbundle merchant settlement amounts and charge applicable taxes and duties on individual transactions as stipulated by regulations.
A statement signed by the Director, Payments System Management Department, CBN, Sam Okojere, said a downward review of the Merchant Service Charge had been approved.
It said henceforth, the charges had been reduced from 0.75 per cent capped at N1, 200 to 0.50 per cent capped at N1, 000.
Buhari Sacks Osinbajo’s Team, Appoints Soludo, Others in New Economic Team
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday replaced the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with an Economic Advisory Council (EAC).
The new EAC, which reports directly to the president, will be chaired by an economist, Prof. Doyin Salami.
Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina in a statement said the EAC would advise the president on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues, working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.
He said the council, which is expected to assist the president in the development of critical policies, would hold monthly sessions.
Other members of the council are: Dr. Mohammed Sagagi (vice chairman), Prof. Ode Ojowu (member), Dr. Shehu Yahaya (member), Dr. Iyabo Masha (member), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo (member), Mr. Bismark Rewane (member), and Dr. Mohammed Adaya Salisu (secretary).
Adesina said: “This advisory council will replace the current EMT and will be reporting directly to the president. The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the president. The chairman may, however, request unscheduled meetings if the need arises.”
Membership of the disbanded EMT, chaired by Osinbajo, had the following members: Minister of Finance; Minister of Budget and National Planning; Minister of State for Budget and National Planning; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment; Minister of Agriculture; Minister of Information and Culture; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters; Director-General of the Budget Office; Director-General of the Debt Management Office; and Director-General of the National Bureau of Statistics.
The team met weekly at the State House.