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Buhari urges Ecobank to support govt’s intervention in agriculture

President Muhammadu Buhari flanked by the Chairman of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Mr. Emmanuel Ikazoboh and Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari (sixth right) while the Group Chief Executive Officer, ETI, Mr. Ade Ayeyemi (third left); Non-Executive Director, ETI, Mr. Tei Mante (fifth left); CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele (fourth right); None Executive Director, ETI, Mr. Bashir Maman Iffo (second left); Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed (fifth right); Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan and others when the President met with delegation of the Pan African Bank at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari flanked by the Chairman of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI), Mr. Emmanuel Ikazoboh and Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari (sixth right) while the Group Chief Executive Officer, ETI, Mr. Ade Ayeyemi (third left); Non-Executive Director, ETI, Mr. Tei Mante (fifth left); CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele (fourth right); None Executive Director, ETI, Mr. Bashir Maman Iffo (second left); Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed (fifth right); Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Akinwuntan and others when the President met with delegation of the Pan African Bank at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday.

* as bank urges FG to urgently decongest Apapa port

* supports Nigeria’s SMEs, others with $150m

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President Muhammadu Buhari has called for a collaboration with Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (ETI) to “institute a special fund to develop agriculture, which will cement its legacy as a bank that helped to transform this region’s economic fortunes.”

He disclosed this on Tuesday when he met with the board of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, led by the Group Chairman, Emmanuel Ikazoboh.

The president stressed that his administration remains committed to the goals of securing the country, encouraging inclusive economic growth, and fighting corruption.

According to him, Nigeria was in a unique position as the most populous and resource-rich nation on the African continent, adding that the resources would be harnessed and properly managed, to engender a prosperous and peaceful country.

He said: “If assets and resources available to Nigeria were properly managed, she would be prosperous and peaceful. But the poverty and insecurity we are experiencing today are results of decades of neglect and resource mismanagement.”

Buhari said his government was not only determined to reverse the trend of squander-mania and mismanagement, adding “we have made progress in some areas such as agriculture”.

The President commended Ecobank for being active in promoting financial inclusion, noting that it is key to the government’s diversification agenda.

On requests by the bank for the decongestion of Apapa ports, and rebuilding of the transnational Lagos-Badagry-Seme road, President Buhari responded: “We are aware and are working in all those areas, and by the grace of God, you will start seeing results during my second term in office.”

Ikazoboh had in his delegation, the Group CEO of Ecobank, Ade Ayeyemi and the Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan.

He called on President Buhari to urgently address Apapa gridlock, describing the port as the centre of trade in the country.

Speaking with State House correspondents on areas they want the President’s intervention, the bank’s chief executive said: “Well in our speech, we have told him some of the challenges Nigeria and Africa are facing. Like I said earlier on, if Nigeria is sorted out, Africa is sorted out, and some of these challenges are infrastructure, of which they are working on assiduously.

“Also we are talking about the Seme road because of West African trade route which we think should be given some priority. And to thank him also for the steps he is taking to clear the Apapa Port because that is where trade is coming into Nigeria.

“The major problem confronting the banks today is the debtors. We have a number of debtors both corporate and individuals, and we need to put in place a framework to ensure that people do not just take loan and not pay pack.

“Banks are under pressure because if you have a lot of unpaid loans, it means you don’t have enough money to also support other borrowings or other small and medium enterprises.”

On what the bank was doing to support SMEs in the country, Ikazoboh said, “we’ve improved the capital of Ecobank in Nigeria. In the last six months, we have brought in about $150 million all to drive borrowings and supporting the small and medium enterprises.”

The Ecobank Group Chairman said the purpose of their visit was to “congratulate the President on his re-election and to wish him God’s guidance and spiritual protection to continue to lead this nation because we believe that he has the interest of the country at heart and if Nigeria succeeds, Africa has succeeded and being the leader of Nigeria, he is the leader of Africa. Since we are the Pan-African bank, we needed to come and see the leader of Africa.”

Ikazoboh disclosed that the Ecobank Group “with a larger African footprint than any other bank in the world operating in West, Central, East and Southern Africa is the only bank that spans 36 African countries, and also operates a truly integrated African network.

“That is One unified integrated Ecobank Mobile Banking App, that works seamlessly across all 33 operating countries in Africa; One Ecobank Omni and Omnilite serving all Multinationals and SMEs in Africa; One Rapidtransfer app that breaks down country borders and allows the Diaspora community send money directly to their loved ones, instantly and affordably across Africa; One Ecobank Online Banking platform that you can access easily whether you are in Abuja or Kinshasha; Ecobank’s unique and largest pan-African platform is designed to help unlock the opportunities of the continent, for the continent, through standardization, fuelling regional integration, and trade and investment across borders”

He further said due to Ecobank’s sterling performance, it has been severally recognized as Best Digital Bank in Africa – 2017 by Euromoney Awards; Best Retail Bank and Innovation in Banking both in 2018 by the African Banker Awards, among others.

NOMINATE AFRICAN OF THE YEAR 2019

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