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Ebenezer Onyeagwu: A global brand taking Zenith Bank to the zenith

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Managing a global financial institution requires much more than being book-smarts. Ingenuity, creativity and discernment are indispensable.As such, the emergence of Ebenezer Onyeagwu as Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) of Zenith Bank Plc, a global brand, didn’t come to many as a surprise.

The Bank had announced the appointment of Onyeagwu as its GMD/CEO with effective June 1, 2019. The appointment is consistent with the bank’s tradition and succession strategy of grooming leaders from within. He
replaced Mr. Peter Amangbo, whose tenure expired on May 31, 2019.

Besides a proven intellectual capacity, Onyeagwu, over the years, has displayed robust managerial and problem-solving skill sets in the banking industry, making him a natural fit to oversee a behemoth financial institution of international repute.

He is an experienced chartered accountant and astute financial expert trained in reputable institutions in Nigeria, United Kingdom and United States of America.

A graduate of Accounting from Auchi Polytechnic, widely recognized as an institution that has produced some of Nigeria’s most renowned Chartered Accountants, he obtained the Higher National Diploma in Accounting in
1987, finishing as the 2nd best graduating student in Accounting with a “Good” grade (Upper Credit) which is equivalent of a 2nd Class Upper.

He qualified as a Chartered Accountant (ACA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in 1988/89, a feat he achieved almost immediately after graduation during his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year. He was the first among his graduating class to qualify as a chartered accountant.

He subsequently became a Fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), in 2003. He has over 29 years of experience in the banking industry in Nigeria, out of which he spent 17 in Zenith Bank Plc.
Before joining Zenith Bank Plc, he worked at Citizens International Bank Limited between 1991 and 2002. He was one of the most outstanding branch managers in the bank, winning multiple awards and recognitions for his
brilliant, excellent and highly professional performance on the job.

He joined Zenith Bank Plc in 2002 as a Senior Manager, in the Internal Control and Audit Group of the bank. His professionalism, competence, integrity and commitment to the objectives of the bank saw him rise
swiftly between 2003 and 2005, first, as Assistant General Manager, then Deputy General Manager, and eventually, General Manager of the bank.

In these capacities, he handled strategies for new business and branch development, management of risk assets portfolios, treasury functions, strategic top level corporate, multinationals and public institutional relationships, among others.

He was appointed Executive Director of the bank in 2013, and put in charge of Lagos and South-South Zones as well as strategic groups/business units of the bank, including Financial Control & Strategic Planning, Treasury and Correspondent Groups, Human Resources Group, Oil and Gas Group, and Credit Risk Management Group, etc.

Onyeagwu emerged Deputy Managing Director of the bank in 2016. In that capacity, he deputized for the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the bank. He also had direct oversight of the bank’s Financial Control and Strategic Planning, Risk Management, Retail Banking, Institutional and Corporate banking business portfolios, IT Group, Credit Administration, Treasury and Foreign Exchange Trading.

Onyeagwu is an alumnus of the prestigious University of Oxford, England, from where he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Strategy, and a certificate in Macroeconomics. He also undertook extensive executive
level education in Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School of Columbia University, the Harvard Business School of Harvard University, in the United States.

At Wharton Business School, he undertook the CEO academy and leadership training programmes. His strategic skills were further nurtured and honed at Columbia Business School strategy training programme. At the Harvard Business School, he acquired capabilities in negotiations and critical decision-making.

In the last six years, Onyeagwu has been on the board of Zenith Bank Ghana, Zenith Pensions Custodian Limited, Zenith Nominees Limited and African Finance Corporation (AFC). In AFC, he serves on the Board Risk &
Investment Committee (BRIC), and Board Audit & Compliance Committee (BAAC).  At Zenith Bank Ghana, he chairs the Board Credit and Governance Committees.

Within the market, he is highly respected for his consistent and impeccable character, brilliance, deep knowledge and insight of the market, as well as for his strong professional and ethical principles, which have continued to endear him to all stakeholders.

Specifically, Onyeagwu proved his re-engineering expertise by driving the astronomical growth of the profitability of Ikeja Corporate Group of Zenith Bank, with very high-risk assets quality.

At Citizens Bank, he turned around the fortunes of the Warri Delta Branch which was on the verge of being closed due to strings of losses and frauds, making it one of the most profitable and multiple award-winning branches in the bank at that time.

He started his working career as a Management Accountant in 1989 at HFP Engineering Limited, a top developer of residential, commercial and industrial property in Lagos and a major player in the national construction sub-sector.

He was in the team that conceived the business plan for the actualization of the landmark, highbrow and trend-setting Victoria Garden City Residential Estate.

Still, while his ascension to top of Zenith Bank attests to his tenacity, the task that lies before him will put in focus his ingenuity and broad understanding of the financial system.

Managing a global brand from within Nigeria’s rewarding but convoluting business climate isn’t a task for the faint-hearted. Onyeagwu’s leadership of one of Nigeria’s apex banks clearly puts him in the spotlight of a banking sector that grapples with critical challenges.

First, he must deal with the issue of weak capital base in the banking sector. A few years ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria gave a directive to all Nigerian banks to raise their capital base from 1 billion naira to at least 25 billion naira by December 31, 2005.

At the time, most banks did not have enough money to meet the requirement, leading to a foreclosure of over 70 percent of banks. Out of 89 banks only 25 emerged after meeting the 25 billion naira benchmark.

With the evolving financial climate, prospective spike international loans and the desire of the bank to engage new frontiers, the drive to constantly shore up the capital base, will be crucial.

The new Zenith Bank boss also has the task of entrenching ethical standards and broadening professionalism not just within his immediate financial sphere but in the larger financial community.

In recent times, the Central Bank of Nigeria has been intervening to investigate fraud, greed, insider abuse, etc. These were the succeeding results of unethical behavior from both bank staff and management.

What’s more, issues of poor corporate governance practices, over expansion, corruption of bank officials and improper risk management, implementation of the full abolition of commission on turn over policy, inaccessibility of banks in rural areas are issues that he must deal with within the banking community.

On another level, factors like slow Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, recession, regulatory pressure low oil prices and dwindling availability of foreign currency, have remained topical in the banking sector which he will be confronted with.

To underscore the magnitude of the challenge, slower economic growth and lower risk appetite from banks will continue to translate into subdued credit growth and weak core earnings generation soon.

From the benefit of hindsight, Nigeria had a dwindling economic growth since the end of 2015, the rate dropped to an estimated 3.0% which adversely affected the Nigerian banking industry.

Nonetheless, for many watchers of the banking sector, Onyeagwu, having grown through the ranks and have become refined through the rigours of the banking system has the depth, creativity and discernment to not just
navigate and dominate the thorny landscapes of the Nigerian banking sector but  emboss the Zenith brand on the global financial community in the evolving dispensation.

-Additional information by PointBlank News

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BUSINESS

Titan Trust Bank set for grand entry into Nigeria

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Titan Trust Bank Logo

Barring any last-minute changes, one of the five new banks licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Titan Trust Bank Limited is set for entry into the Nigerian banking industry in grand style, in a matter of weeks, The Witness can authoritatively reveal.

The Witness had reported that the CBN recently approved licenses for five new banks to operate in the country.

While others are still recruiting and putting things in place, inside sources say Titan Trust, a national financial institution, has completed its processes and is set for take-off soon.

Led by seasoned banker and former deputy governor of the CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo as chairman, the new commercial bank, sources informed The Witness is starting operation with a solid post capitalization financial base in real cash.

Some of those already on board the new bank are experienced financial gurus, giving the signal that the bank is ready the compete with the long-standing and well-rooted Nigerian banks.

According to the lender, the bank was formed to take advantage of the identified gaps in the banking sector and address the unmet needs of the retail mass market, SMEs and corporates.

The new bank headquartered at Plot 1680, Sanusi Fafunwa Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria has the following facilities: Commercial Banking, SME Banking, Digital Banking amongst others. On its commercial banking services, the lender said on its website: “As a national commercial bank, we are committed to supporting businesses, giving them the power to build a better future. Each day, companies are working together to create sustainable economic value.

“We are committed to that vision by ensuring we provide business capital and resources, primed to support these visions, as we continue to tell Africa’s story.”

Titan Trust Bank believes there is nothing like a small business. “All businesses are exactly that; businesses! Our team is made of professionals with an entrepreneurial mindset, working to help you and your business take advantage of the many benefits of banking with Titan, and give your competition a run for their money,” it said.

Titan Trust further posited that it will leverage on digital platforms to empower the emerging pan-African economy, whilst showcasing the industry pioneering solutions, expertise and professionalism.

Established on the 12th of December 2018, the bank obtained its national banking license on the 26th of April 2019, to operate as a commercial bank with national authorization.​

Titan Trust Bank Logo

 

 

OTHERS IN THE TITAN TEAM

Mr. Andrew Ojei

Mr. Andy Ojei is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria as well as a Fellow and Council Member of The Institute of Credit Administration of Nigeria.

He was the pioneer managing director of Zenith Bank, Ghana. He left Zenith Bank Plc in June 2013 as an executive director after 21 years of service. He is a seasoned businessman with interests in real estate and information technology.

Ojei, an alumnus of the University of Lagos, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, INSEAD (France), Stanford (Singapore) and Wharton (Philadelphia) currently serves as a member of the Governing Council of Ritman University, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State.

 

Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed

Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience managing and leading businesses across the country.

He is the managing director of Syndicated Investment Limited, a construction firm. He has held this post for over 33 years.

He has also been the chairman/CEO of Impex Limited, a security, contracting and trading company since 1993.​

 

Alhaji Aminu Bashari

Alhaji Bashari Aminu (Iyan Zazzau), is the chairman of the Board of Directors of Vital Products Limited.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Financial Accountants (UK) and a Fellow of the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria. He is a senior title holder in the Emirate of Zazzau and was a Senior District Head of Sabon-Gari, Zaria in Kaduna State from 1979 to 2018.

He is currently on the board of several companies.​

 

Mudassir Amray – MD/CEO

Mudassir Amray is a banker with over 25 years of global exposure across six geographies (US, Nigeria, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Pakistan).

He has held senior positions in global banks such as: Citi New York – Managing Director & Head of Global Capital Management (LATAM), Citi Nigeria – Managing Director & Head of Corporate & Investment Banking, Nigeria and Ghana, Al Rajhi Malaysia – Country Business Head, Citi HK – Head of Capital Management, Asia Pacific, Citi Singapore – Head of Islamic Banking, Asia Pacific, Citi Pakistan, Country Business Head.​

 

Adaeze Udensi – Executive Director​

Adaeze has over 23 years’ banking experience, and was until recently, an Executive Director in Heritage Bank.

In her four years as executive director, she supervised the South businesses; oversaw Retail, Private Wealth, Collections, E-Business, Customer Experience and IT functions; and served as Executive Compliance Officer.

Adaeze also acted as managing director of Heritage Bank in 2017. Prior to this, she spent 16 years in Zenith Bank growing its Oil & Gas, Public Sector, Commercial and Retail businesses into the 2nd largest portfolio in the Bank, leaving as a general manager.

Adaeze has a first degree in banking, and MBA’s from Rivers State University of Science & Technology, and the University of Bangor, Wales.

She has also attended several Executive Management Programmes in Wharton Business School, Kellogg School of Management, Harvard Business School, and INSEAD.​

 

Stella Nwihim – Head of HR

Stella is a seasoned professional with over 21 years’ experience spanning Human Resources, Sales and Banking Operations.

She has held key HR positions in Zenith Bank Plc and UBA Plc including Head Workforce Planning, Head Shared Services and Head Business Partnering, where she made significant contributions in organizational development, performance and change management and business strategy.

She holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. (Biology) and an MBA (Management) and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

 

Mark Oguh – CFO

Mark has 22 years’ experience in the banking industry covering Operations, Audit and Financial Control.

He is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in accountancy and business administration and an MBA in banking and finance. He was the financial controller at Diamond Bank from 2015 to March 31, 2019.​

 

Ademola Ajayi – Chief Compliance Officer

Ademola Ajayi is the chief compliance officer of Titan Trust Bank Limited. He holds Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting (First Class Honours) from Babcock University, Ilishan Ogun State. He also holds Higher National Diploma in accounting with Upper credits class from the Polytechnic, Ibadan. He is a fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountant of Nigeria (ICAN). He is also an Associate of Compliance Institute of Nigeria (CIN). He is a Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered Compliance Officer and a registered professional of Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN). Internationally, he is a Certified Compliance Officer (CCO) and Certified Fraud and Crime; Investigation and Prevention by GAFM USA. He is also a fellow of GAFM USA.

He has been in the Nigerian Banking Sector since 1996, well over 2 decades, with experience cutting across financial control, credit review and monitoring, business development, banking operations, internal controls, internal audit, inspection and compliance functions. His career in banking started in NAL Merchant Bank, where he did the mandatory one year national youth service. Immediately after his service year, he was recruited by Zenith Bank, where he performed creditably well in banking operations generally, controls and risk management related functions, and later with specific focus on compliance risk management role. He played a key role in setting up compliance department in Zenith Bank and took same to an enviable height. Ademola AJAYI is a team player, and will positively impact any team he finds himself. He has attended compliance trainings, locally and internationally. He is also a competent trainer on compliance matters.

 

George Aiyudu – Head of IT

George is a certified COBIT implementer with over 21 years banking experience covering Banking Operations, International Operations and Information Technology.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and also holds a Masters Degree in Business Information Systems. He was the Group Head, IT Change and Transformation at Diamond Bank.

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BUSINESS

Fidelity Bank partners NIPOST, launches agency banking

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>> >> L - R: Head Digital Financial Services, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Stephen Ambore;Managing Director, Threeline Ltd, Mr. Femi Omogbenugu; Deputy Managing Director,Fidelity Bank Plc, Mohammed Balarabe; Postmaster General/CEO, NIPOST , Mr Bisi Adegbuyi; Head Northern Directorate, Fidelity Bank, Hassan Imam, and GM, Financial Service Business Unit, NIPOST, Muktar Baba during the launch of bank@post; a TSA/Agent Banking initiative between NIPOST and Fidelity Bank in Abuja on Thursday

To make financial inclusion a reality, Fidelity Bank is collaborating with the Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) to bring modern banking services directly to people in 266 rural areas.

Speaking at the launch of integrated banking services between the bank and NIPOST in Abuja on Thursday, Deputy Managing Director of the bank Mr. Mohammed Balarabe said the lender was collaborating with NIPOST as part of its financial inclusion strategy by deploying all its banking services in 266 locations using NIPOST offices in locations lacking banking facilities.

These initial 266 locations he said will be increased over time to capture other locations using NIPOST offices.

Under this collaboration, bank customers can use POS, deposit into any bank operating in Nigeria, withdraw from any bank account in Nigeria, engage in ATM transactions, transfer to any bank account, carry out payment services like taxes, rates and levies; school fees; electricity bills and satellite television subscriptions.

In his address, Post Master General of the Federation (PMG) and Chief Executive Officer of NIPOST Mr. Bisi Adegboye said NIPOST “the sleeping giant has come back to life to fulfil its Corporate Social Responsibility.”

He said: “The internet has taken away the old ways of making money from NIPOST but has also opened exponential opportunities by leveraging on new technology and ICT to tap into current trends of transactions like online purchases.”

NIPOST he assured will make itself relevant to change the lives of Nigerians.

One of such changes is that NIPOST now plans to give every Nigerian a digital address yo make easy for Nigerians to access credit and resolve issues surrounding identity management in the country.

Adegboye said “this partnership also avails Fidelity Bank the opportunity to expand its network using the over 1800 post office facilities nationwide to take banking closer to the people in line with the Federal government’s Financial Inclusion policy which places high premium on providing financial services to the under-banked and unbanked populace, who work in the informal sector of the economy without or less access to financial services.”

He added that “the integrated Agency Banking services incorporate the collections of a treasury single account (TSA) on a single platform. With this development, it means that NlPOST customers can also get banking services in the Post offices nationwide and can deposit and withdraw money, including payment of bills for utility services in Post offices where these services are available without stress.”

The collaboration he stated has “added impetus to NIPOST revenue drive as it would no doubt boost our revenue profile in addition to tradition postal services.”

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BUSINESS

NASCON targets increased market share via product innovation

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Director, NASCON Allied Industries Plc, Halima Aliko Dangote; Executive Director, Commercial, NASCON Allied Industries Plc, Fatima Aliko Dangote; Managing Director, NASCON Allied Industries Plc, Paul Farrer; and Chairperson, NASCON Allied Industries Plc. ‘Yemisi Ayeni, at the 2018 Annual General Meeting of NASCON Allied Industries Plc, in Lagos on June 13, 2019.

NASCON Allied Industries Plc is targeting more market share in the food sector through increased product range and innovation. According to Executive Director, Commercial of NASCON, Fatima Aliko-Dangote, the company, which added three new products in 2018, would be introducing more products this year as part of strategies to meet the needs of its varied customer base.

Fatima Aliko-Dangote, who spoke at the annual general meeting of the Dangote Industries Limited subsidiary held in Lagos yesterday, said NASCON products are widely accepted in the market.

Managing Director, NASCON, Paul Farrer said the company, having demonstrated its resilience in the challenging environment of 2018, is strongly focused on capacity growth and increased market penetration. He disclosed that the company would be leveraging on a number of synergies including improved output in terms of quality, quantity and business efficiency to deliver value for all stakeholders.

On the new products introduced in 2018, he said, “…we launched the Dangote Stew Mix, Dangote Curry and Dangote Classic seasoning. These three products are part of a wider product enrichment plan to diversify our product portfolio. The products were specifically developed to meet and surpass the needs of our consumers across the country. Each of these products has been tailored to suit the local taste and cooking habits of the different regions in Nigeria. We would continue to differentiate ourselves in our product category by consistently delivering high quality, nutritious products.”

Shareholders at the AGM took turns to laud the board and management of NASCON for a good outing in 2018 and counselled the latter to do better in the present year. A shareholder, Olagoke Olusegun commended the quality of the board of directors, which he said consists of vibrant and experienced members who oversee and influence the activities of the management team. According to him, the good synergy between the board and management is seen in the performance of the company despite the harsh operating environment manufacturing companies faced in the year 2018.

He also tasked the management to pay more attention to the welfare of staff who are key to the performance of the company. He said, management should adhere to the best operating guidelines in order not to run afoul of regulatory agencies’ requirements.

A leading shareholders’ rights’ activist, Sunny Nwosu, in his remarks, lauded the board and management of NASCON for their ability to declare and pay dividends despite the harsh operating environment which resulted from the Apapa Wharf gridlock and the downturn in the national economy. He said while other companies are lamenting and cutting down on production, the company is paying dividend which is commendable.

Another shareholder, Mrs. Funke Godswill, also commended the performance of the company but lamented the impact of Apapa Wharf traffic which she said hinders optimal performance of companies within the axis. Sunday Apu, a concerned shareholder, bemoaned the issue of smuggling of salt products through the borders which erodes the market share of NASCON. He called on the management to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service in order to curb the spate of smuggling which stifles domestic production.

Mrs. Bisi Bakare, in her contribution, commended the quality of the product mix from NASCON which she says compares with the best in the market. She also lauded the board and management for the company’s dividend policy, and paying of dividends consistently for the past eleven years. Another shareholders’ rights’ activist, Murktar Murktar said NASCON is garnering more market share through the introduction of three new products in 2018.

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