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125 Years Anniversary: FirstBank Holds Relay Walk, Pledges Commitment to Teamwork, Service Delivery, Value Creation

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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.

ED, Corporate Banking, Mr. Remi Oni, receiving the certificate

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.

Cross section of staff during the walk

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.

FirstBank staff

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.

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FirstBank Boosts Education Sector, Supports Schools with N10bn Loan

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Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced that within the last year, it has supported educational institutions in the country with loans to the tune of over N10 billion.

The Bank’s support is carried out through its FirstEdu product, an educational solution created to enhance the educational facilities in schools with a view to improving the quality of education across the country.

FirstEdu loan is targeted at private Nursery, Primary and Secondary schools to assist the schools in achieving their desired growth in the medium and long-term. The product provides funding to replace old furniture and equipment, pay staff salaries, purchase brand new or fairly-used buses as well as refurbish dilapidated buildings and classroom blocks. With this product, school owners/proprietors can stay ahead to make learning easy and conducive for students.

The product enables the schools to access facilities with no tangible collateral, apart from domiciliation of school fees account with the Bank.

On the other hand, FirstEdu portal is a modular and robust web-based enterprise portal that enables tertiary educational institutions manage academic, administrative, professional, logistics and payment challenges.

The product features and benefits include; e-Learning, virtual library and facilitation of exchange programmes with foreign educational institutions; academic & student events/time-table/calendar management; school fees payment via the internet; online information and result checking; interactive community forum between students and teachers. It also affords applicants the opportunity of enrolling from the comfort of their homes or any location around the world; no licensing, installation and maintenance cost and plugs avenues for revenue leakages amongst others.

According to Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, “With FirstEdu, private schools across the various tiers of education in Nigeria; elementary, secondary and tertiary, have the right tool to boost their business to the level they desire. We are pleased to have already disbursed over N10 billion loans to schools in one year and we would continue to support growth in this key sector of our economy.”

“At FirstBank, we identify with the impact of the educational sector on the socio-economic activities of the country and importantly the lives of everyone. We remain committed to supporting schools as education is the core and root factor at enabling growth of our economy” he concluded.

In need of the right educational solutions to give your school a boost, visit the FirstBank branch nearest to you or contact us on our social media channels; @firstbanknigeria on Instagram; @firstbankngr on twitter and FirstBankofNigeriaLimited on Facebook.

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ECO Crisis: Nigeria, Other Countries Demand ECOWAS Meeting

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Nigeria and six other members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday demanded a crucial extraordinary meeting to discuss the controversial renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO by eight of their counterparts.

The demand was contained in a communique issued at the end of a meeting by the countries, namely Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

On December 21, 2019, the eight French-speaking West African countries announced their decision to dump the French CFA Franc for the ECO single currency scheduled to take off this year.

ECO is the name adopted for the common currency of the ECOWAS by the Authority of the Community’s Heads of State and Government at their 55th Ordinary Session in Abuja.

The announcement was made by the Ivorien President, Alassane Ouattara, on behalf of the eight countries, namely Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo Republic.

The adoption of the common currency, expected to be issued in June 2020, is part of efforts by ECOWAS to realise its over 30 years’ aspiration to establish a single currency among its members and ensure regional economic integration in the region.

Ghana had applauded the decision of its Francophone counterparts to break from the shackles of the French colonialism to team up with their ECOWAS colleagues.

Many analysts described the French President, Emmanuel Macron’s role in the eight former colonial territories as an attempt to hijack the ECO single currency project.

But, at the end of the extra-ordinary meeting, the Ministers of Finance and the Governors of the Central Banks of the West African Monetary Zone ((WAMZ) on the ECOWAS single currency programme condemned the eight countries for taking a unilateral decision over the issue.

The meeting held at the CBN headquarters in Abuja under the chairmanship of the Minister of Finance and Economy of the Republic of Guinea, Mamadi Camara. The six countries frowned at the conduct of their counterparts.

In the communique issued at the end of the meeting, the finance ministers and Central Bank governors of the six countries said they noted the declaration by the Chairman of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) on December 21, 2019.

The representatives of the affected countries described the “unilateral renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO by 2020 as inconsistent with the decision of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the ECO as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”

“WAMZ Convergence Council would be recommending an extraordinary summit of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the WAMZ member states will be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues,” the communique read.

The English version of the communique was read by the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Guinea, Mamadi Camara, read the French version.

Other representatives present at the meeting include the Minister of finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of Gambia, Mambury Njie; Minister of Finance of Ghana, Ofori Atta; Minister of Finance and Development Planning of Republic of Liberai, Samuel Tweah and Minister of Finance of Sierra Leone, Jacob Saffa.

Also, present were Senior Adviser, Central Bank of Gambia, Buah Saidy; Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Ernest Addison; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

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FG Confirms Implementation of 7.5% VAT Begins February 1

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The Federal Government will from February 1 begin the implementation of 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax espoused by the finance law.

The law, according to the government, will take effect after all the necessary administrative procedures must have been completed, especially the gazette of the Act by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, confirmed the development on Thursday in Abuja at the inauguration of the board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

She said the February 1 commencement date had put to rest every speculation regarding the take-off date of the new VAT regime.

The minister said once a bill is signed into law, it takes effect immediately, but noted that there were certain administrative procedures and formalities to be finalised before commencement.

The VAT increase which is meant to help government achieve its revenue projections for the 2020 budget is a part of the tax reforms included in the 2019 Finance Act.

She said with the Act, there would be more revenue to finance key government projects especially in the areas of health, education and critical infrastructure.

She said, “The implementation of the Value Added Tax is to take effect from February 1, 2020, after all the necessary administrative procedures have been completed, especially the gazette of the Act by the Federal Ministry of Justice.”

The minister’s remark contradicts an earlier claim by the Accountant General of the Federal, Ahmed Idris, who said the new VAT increment took effect from January 13 when the 2020 Finance Act was signed.

She told the members of the FIRS board that the responsibility bestowed on them was critical to the smooth operation of the various tiers and arms of government in Nigeria and, by implication, the well-being of the Nigerian people.

The newly appointed Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami, vowed to reposition the service for improved performance.

Nami said he would implement policies that would ensure maximum increase in tax revenue.

As tax administrators and custodians of the Nigerian tax system, he said the FIRS had a responsibility to the nation to implement all tax policies and laws in a manner that would ensure optimal benefits to the nation.

In achieving these objectives, he said his agenda to reposition the FIRS for better service to taxpayers would be anchored on four cardinal pillars.

They are rebuilding FIRS’ institutional framework by strengthening the capacity of departments and units to deliver on their mandates and robust collaboration with stakeholders to eliminate critical bottlenecks in the tax system.

Others are to build the FIRS into an institution that supports Nigeria’s longing to become an investment destination and to make the FIRS an agency in which its people, processes, and technologies are all geared towards a clear goal.

In order to achieve these agenda, he said within the next three months, a lot of initiatives would be implemented.

Some of these initiatives are to build staff capacities for service delivery; closing of all lien cases in order to build new enforcement strategies; and restructuring and repositioning of audit function.

Others are review of structures for optimal performance; capacity building on the finance law and other tax programmes; review of Tax Clearance Certificate administration process and revamping of the Integrated Tax Administration System.

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