Sterling Bank has announced the appointment of its current Executive Director, Finance & Strategy, Abubakar Suleiman, as Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer with effect from April 1st 2018. This follows the retirement of its current Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Yemi Adeola . Mr. Suleiman according to a statement from the lender started his banking career as a Management Associate in MBC International Bank (now First Bank Plc) in 1998. In 2000, he moved to Citibank Nigeria where he worked in roles covering Treasury and Asset & Liability Management.
He served as Treasurer in Sterling Bank and later Integration Director for the merger with Equitorial Trust Bank. Born on 19th August 1973, he has two decades of relevant experience spanning tax advisory, business audit and financial services.
He holds a B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Abuja and a M.Sc. in Major Programmes Management from the University of Oxford. He is also an alumnus of Arthur Andersen (KPMG Nigeria), Wharton School and INSEAD Business School in addition to executive education from Harvard and Said Business Schools.
Abubakar joined Sterling Bank (then known as Trust Bank Africa) in 2003 with responsibility for Treasury and Finance. Following the merger in 2006, he was appointed Group Treasurer; a position he held until 2011 when he assumed the role of Integration Director – tasked with managing and integrating Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) into Sterling. He was named Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in 2012, and appointed an Executive Director in April 2014 with responsibility for the financial performance of the Company; and directly overseeing the Finance and Performance Management, Strategy and Innovation, Brand Management and Communication, and Human Resource Management Department.
Prior to this, he was also appointed Sponsor, Islamic Projects in November 2003 where he was charged with developing Islamic finance products. Adeola, whose retirement takes effect from March 31st, 2018, is a founding Director of the bank. He was appointed Managing Director of the bank in February 2009. Prior to his appointment, he was Executive Director Corporate and Commercial Banking.
His retirement comes after 30 years of service in the banking industry.His banking career started in the then Nigeria International Bank Ltd now Citibank Nigeria Ltd in 1988 where he served in various capacities and rose to the position of Executive Director in 1998, one of the youngest officers and indeed one of the first Nigerian nationals to be appointed in that capacity with the Citigroup Inc’s Nigeria unit between February 1998 and May 2003. In July 2003, he became the Deputy Managing Director of the lender’s legacy component, Trust Bank of Africa Limited.
He was instrumental to the formation of Sterling Bank in 2006, served as Integration Director in the immediate post-merger phase and up until 2007 as Executive Director covering Commercial & Institutional Banking and later Corporate Banking prior to becoming CEO. Mr. Asue Ighodalo, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Sterling Bank Plc commented: “In 2008, Yemi was appointed to the role of substantive CEO.
Since that appointment, he has overseen a period of strong growth in market share and profitability with the institution moving from the 23rd ranked bank measured by assets to the top half of the domestic banking market. Additionally, Yemi and his team have navigated multiple economic and banking credit cycles with great skill, sound judgement and outstanding professionalism often thriving in the most difficult conditions evidenced by the emergence of the Bank as a consolidator in the 2009- 2011 cycle despite its modest capital base and distribution footprint at the time, and its continuing success in growing organically thereafter.
More than anything else, Yemi’s legacy is reflected in the excellent professional reputation of the Bank; the stability of its Board and Management – something rarely seen in merged institutions; and the overall strength of its institutional governance, all of which are achievements that I have no doubt that the new leadership team will build upon and extend even further.
On behalf of the Board and all our colleagues, I thank first and foremost his family for their sacrifice, and Yemi himself for his outstanding service to the Bank and exceptional leadership while trusting that we can continue to call upon his counsel as ‘Emeritus CEO’, notable shareholder and friend of the Bank.”
Besides, he said: “I am equally pleased to welcome Abu into the CEO role. Over the years, Abu has developed an outstanding strategic and operational track record across all our business areas and great relationships with customers and other stakeholders in key areas of our businesses. Some of those outstanding contributions have spanned the leadership of our Corporate Treasury and Finance functions, Mergers & Acquisitions having served as Integration Director & Interim CEO of Equitorial Trust Bank (“ETB”) prior to its consolidation into Sterling Bank and executive sponsor of some of our most successful growth initiatives.
Abu is a seasoned executive with exceptional ability and his emergence underscores the quality of our leadership pipeline at executive level. His appointment is a result of a rigorous and wide-reaching process conducted as part of our succession planning and we look forward to him leading our Bank through the next stage of its development. Abu’s appointment has already received all mandatory regulatory approvals.” Mr. Abubakar Suleiman said: “I am deeply humbled but delighted to be stepping into the CEO role at this time.
Over the past decade under Yemi, our share of the banking market has grown significantly, and our brand has become established in the marketplace. I look forward to working with the Board and my colleagues in Management towards building on the excellent foundation already in place to deliver superior value for the benefit of all our stakeholders.”
Mr. Yemi Adeola, CEO said: “Our Bank has grown materially in all respects over the past decade moving from being a marginal player on the fringes, to an established operator trusted by millions of people today. The achievements highlighted by the Chairman in his remarks have required huge personal sacrifice on the part of many people.
I am extremely grateful to all of them for their support and know that Abu and his team can continue to count on this support in the months and years to come. “I would like to specifically thank our customers, the shareholders, the board, our staff and regulators amongst others for their support and goodwill. Sterling Bank is well set for the future and I believe that now is the right time for me to step down and pass on the baton to Abu. As a Bank, we have done well, are doing well and have great prospects for the future.
Our institution has the resources both human and material to look forward and write a new chapter in its history. There are exciting choices for the new generation of leaders to make, especially with the increasing integration of Nigeria into the global economy, an increasing need for economic diversification in the face of a post-fossil fuels world, and the transformational impact of digital technologies on financial services.
I am especially pleased that the board has chosen a successor from our internal talent pool further affirming the quality of senior leadership within the company and the long-term sustainability of our business model.
I leave in place a team that has been central to what we have achieved over the past decade and have no doubt that they will successfully lead our institution to an even stronger position in the financial services market in the near-future.” Under Yemi’s watch, Sterling Bank has received several awards, which include: Most Innovative Bank West Africa (2015)- The Banker Africa; Best Corporate Governance Bank (2015)- The Banker Africa; Best Bank Website of the Year 2015- Nigeria Technology Award; Most Innovative ICT Product In The Banking Sector -Nigeria Telecom Awards and Islamic Bank of the year, Africa 2016.
”The European” recognized the bank for its contribution to Non Interest Banking. Also, Sterling Bank came top 10 in the world, top three in Africa and first in Nigeria in Lafferty’s 2016 Bank Quality Ratings, which covers strategy, culture, customer care, brand promise and financial performance. Other awards are the Excellence in Mobile Banking at the Lafferty Global Awards (2016) and top three finalists at the EFMA/Accenture awards held in the UAE in 2015.
JOHESU: Unresolved strike with many issues
Year-in-year-out, labour and trade unions have tried to ensure their members’ rights are protected, especially on improved welfare. However, that of health workers, currently on-going, appears not to be on the popular side. REGINA OTOKPA reports
For decades, Nigerian workers have continued to press for better welfare packages and prompt payment of their entitlements from the government. This has led to series of strike actions by various unions fighting for workers’ rights.
The most recent is the agitation by health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU). JOHESU comprises of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) and Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria.
JOHESU’s Demands The first major bone of contention among the 15-point demands is the payment of over N20 billion adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), which the government had already agreed to pay in 2017.
Others are immediate release of the harmonised scheme of service and circular on internship for nurses and midwives, upward adjustment of the CONHESS salary structure, immediate and full payment of arrears of salaries of CONHESS 10 skipping outstanding, payment of promotion arrears, same scale promotion/ redesignation, prioritisation of employment in the critical professional areas and enhanced entry point to accommodate all other graduates of other health care professionals.
Others are advertisement of CMD/MD’s appointment without prejudice to any particular profession, nonseparation of teaching hospitals from their teaching hospitals and the eligibility for specialist allowance to accommodate two members of JOHESU.
The demand also include board appointment to institutions, promotion of health workers at Federal Medical Centre Owerri, who were being punished for embarking on strike to same level with their counterparts, adjustment of retirement age from 60 to 65, and immediate set up of a collective bargaining agreement committee to look at headship allowance, administrative allowance, professional allowance, excess work load allowance, health and safety site allowance for JOHESU members.
The aggrieved workers claimed that previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan agreed to implement these demands in 2015, but the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, recently insisted that such was not the case, as there was no agreement between the Federal Government and JOHESU prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He maintained that what JOHESU brandished as 2014 agreement were minutes of meetings held with organs of Federal Government to reach a compromise, adding that JOHESU’s demands to be at par with doctors in terms of salary was neither practicable nor acceptable.
He said: “As a responsible government, we will do everything within our power to bring the ongoing strike action to an end as quickly as possible, but what JOHESU is asking for is parity with medical doctors which is neither practicable nor acceptable to the federal government.”
Adewole had said out of the 15 demands presented by JOHESU in September 2017, the government had implemented 14 while the last demand was being attended to, noting that the implication of when the agreement was reached is that JOHESU wants the government to pay arrears from 2014, and not September 2017, which the Buhari administration agreed to.
However, this is not the case, some of the 15-point demand by JOHESU has not been implemented contrary to claims by the Minister of Health. For example, the government has not increased the retirement age of JOHESU members from 60 to 65 years, skipping of Consolidated Health Salary Scale (CONHESS 10) arrears has not been paid as well as the implementation of the scale to scale promotion, especially on CONHESS 14 to 15. Other demands yet to be implemented includes employment of health workers to address the shortage of manpower in critical professional areas.
Poised to drive home their demands, especially the non-implementation of the new salary structure for other workers just as was done for doctors since 2014, the national wing of JOHESU withdrew their services at all federal health institutions on April 18, 2018.
The Government’s failure to arrive at a compromise after several meetings with the aggrieved health workers, two weeks after, led to an expansion of the strike from federal health institutions to states and local government hospitals on May 9. Meeting to receive and analyse the report of a six-member technical committee set up about two weeks ago to unravel the modalities to implement the adjusted CONHESS, the government and leadership of JOHESU, however, rejected the report and dissolved the committee, on the grounds that the report did not meet both parties’ expectations.
The national incomes, salaries and wages commission was immediately mandated to meet with JOHESU to produce a more acceptable template for implementation and to be presented at a rescheduled meeting.
Despite government’s effort to reach an agreement with the striking health workers, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, has been a bone in the throat. Only recently, the new leadership of the union led by the President, Dr Francis Faduyile, had threatened to down tools should the Federal Government accede to any of JOHESU’s demands that violates its collective bargaining agreement with government in January 2014.
While claiming that allowing JOHESU assess to leadership positions in health facilities would only put the life of more Nigerians at risk of preventable deaths, NMA insists that JOHESU’s demands were not only an aberration considering international best practice that will add no value to clinical/patients’ care, but certainly worsens morbidity and mortality indices in Nigeria. “It is also pertinent to once again remind the government about the concluding part of our letter no.
NMA/PRE/SG/03/0751 of 21st March 2014, which states, “In view of the above, the NMA painfully wishes to inform the Federal Government of Nigeria that any award to the non-medically qualified health professionals that violates the January and July agreements of 2014 shall result in the resumption of the suspended withdrawal of service of 2014.
Please take this as a notice sir,” NMA said. “The above reminder is predicated on the extension of the ongoing strike action embarked upon by the amorphous body called JOHESU, to States and Local government areas, the basis of which is to strengthen its callous and ill motivated agitation for pay parity between her members and doctors with the resultant erosion of relativity and further hierarchical distortion in the health sector vis-àvis her clandestine romance with some top government officials.
“We oppose vehemently, any adjustment in CONHESS salary scale with resultant pay parity between doctors and healthcare professionals allied to medicine, and hereby reaffirm that relativity is sacrosanct. “The demand for Headship of Departments/units in the hospital by members of JOHESU/AHPA will lead to unprecedented chaos in the health sector with ripple effect on the health of Nigerians.
We reaffirm our rejection of this demand.” Uncomfortable with NMA’s interference, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, advised the association to be cautious in interrupting and meddling with the ongoing discussions between the health workers and the government to allow for a more peaceful and generally acceptable resolutions.
JOHESU had earlier accused Ngige and Adewole, who are both medical doctors, of bias and meting out unfair treatment to members of the union, with claims JOHESU was soliciting for equal rights with medical doctors.
The national Chairman of JOHESU, Comrade Josiah Biobelemoye, had noted that the lingering strike was as a result of the unfavourable moves by the Federal Ministry of Health to frustrate all efforts of the union and the government from reaching an amicable settlement.
“The Federal Ministry of Health treat us like slaves; one of the lies they are telling Nigerians is that we are asking for equal salary with the doctors . Can you imagine that a doctor entering Civil Service enters with grade level 12 while we enter with level 8 and it takes nine years for our members to get to grade level 12,” he said.
“Since government has not shown enough commitment to tow the part of honour and meet our demands, especially, the core demanding for the upward adjustment of CONHESS salary structure as agreed in the Memorandum of Terms of Settlement signed on 30th September, 2017 with JOHESU.
“After three rounds of meetings held on Thursday, 26th April, 2nd and 7th May respectively, at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment to find a way forward, the Federal Ministry of Health is thwarting all efforts at reaching an amicable settlement of the issues of our demands, especially the upward adjustment of COHNESS salary structure.
“CONHESS review is the upward adjustment of the CONHESS Salary table on-line with the same principles used in adjusting the CONMESS table for medical doctors who work with use n the health team.
“Our own demand for the adjustment of CONHESS that affects over 85 per cent of the workforce nationwide has been frustrated, and part of the reason for this is that the minister of health as well as the minister of state for health are all medical doctors, while the minster of labour labour and employment, who should be neutral umpire in trade disputes is equally a medical doctor.”
If these issues are not properly attended to and addressed urgently, prospects of the ongoing strike being called off would continue to be a mirage. This has a huge consequence on the health of a vast majority, as the poor masses who are unable to attain health care services from private health facilities will continue to suffer unjustly.
Reinsurers’ stake in short-term investment rises by N3.48bn
Nigeria’s indigenous reinsurance firms, Continental Reinsurance Plc and Nigeria Reinsurance Corporation, have increased their stakes in short-term investment by N3.4 billion. Data released by the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) revealed that both reinsurers had earlier committed a total of N8.17 billion into the portfolio before increasing it to N11.65 billion as part of their assets.
A searchlight on their assets revealed that out of the total investment, Continental Reinsurance put in N9.23 billion while Nigeria Reinsurance came far behind with a total of N2.43 billion. Further analysis of the data also revealed that their investment in real estate also grew from N17.94 billion to N18.54 billion.
Despite the competition for premiums with highly sophisticated and capital backed offshore reinsurers, the duo has been able to steadily grow their assets over time to remain in business. A recent report detailing global reinsurance rankings left Nigerian firms out despite having the potential to carry out and dominate business transactions in Africa and possibly beyond. They were conspicuously missing in the list as the N896.24 billion gross premium written within a period of five years was far below the ranking parameter, leaving only Africa Reinsurance Corporation among the top 50.
The ranking, which revealed that Swiss Re supplanted Munich Re as the world’s largest reinsurer, was based on the gross premium written within a period of time. In this case, Munich Re’s significant primary operations accounted for just over 30 per cent of its total GPW.
On the other hand, Swiss Re’s reinsurance/primary insurance split is more modest, with just over 15 per cent of GPW coming from insurance operations, putting it under the threshold to split out its insurance and reinsurance premiums.
Apart from Africa Reinsurance having its headquarters in Nigeria, jobs are also ceded to offshore firms due to fragile capacity among local industry players. According the Nigerian Insurers Association’s (NIA) digest, which gave a breakdown of performance within a period of five years, the total amount realised as premium by the reinsurers was N896.24 billion.
The transactions, according to the report, were specifically for general business, wherein the gross premium comprises mainly of businesses accepted from Nigeria by direct offices while local cession covers business ceded to reinsurance companies within Nigeria as well as direct companies for co-insurance jobs. According to the details, the areas covered include Motor, Fire, General Accident, Marine and Aviation, Workmen Compensation/ Employers’ Liabil-ity, Oil and gas, and Miscellaneous.
In 2011 precisely, the reinsurers accepted jobs worth N6.23 billion while it also ceded transactions valued at N44.80 billion. Following the same step in 2012, the operators accepted transactions worth N3.15 billion and ceded others amounting to N55.47 billion. Similarly, in 2013, while transactions worth N4.89 billion were accepted, the operators ceded N63.65 billion worth of deals. For the 2014 transactions, N1.98 billion worth of business was accepted as against N75.33 billion that was ceded out.
In the final year (2015) within the period, transactions worth N1.96 billion were accepted as against N75.44 billion that were ceded. Further details also revealed an increase in reinsurance ratio in 2015 (0.43) as against that of 2014 (0.42).
The reinsurance ratios for other years within the review period are 0.31 in 2011, 0.32 in 2012 and 0.37 in 2013. According to market statistics, European and other overseas reinsurers currently control about 65 per cent of the Nigerian business while African Re controls about 20 per cent.
The remaining 15 per cent is shared between Continental Re and Nigerian Re. Last year, the management of Africa Re pointed out that the dominance of foreign reinsurance firms in the country was due to total low underwriting capacity as reflected in shareholders’ funds compared to the size of total risk exposure.
Nigeria’s agric and the challenges
Recently, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, linked private sector investments to the growing transformation in Nigeria’s agric sector. But these investors still have to contend with myriad of challenges. TAIWO HASSAN reports
On attaining the mantle of leadership as Nigeria’s president on May 29th, Muhammadu Buhari, without compromising his administration’s role, explained that he would give top priority to the agric sector. Particularly, President Buhari wooed the private sector to invest in agriculture, saying that this is the next ‘big thing’ in the country and it is being positioned to increase the country’s revenue generation.
Since President Buhari’s clarion call, the private sector have keyed in into the Federal Government’s diversification agenda, through their investments in Nigeria’s agric sector. Ogbeh has consistently reiterated that his ministry is fully committed towards the development of the agricultural sector, stressing that key developments in the sector would continually be private sector driven.
He said that the Federal Government would provide the necessary incentives to grow the sector by facilitating financing and support for Small to Medium Scale Enterprises (SME) through investment vehicles such as FAFIN.
Fixing Nigeria’s agric sector
The minister said that the burden of fixing Nigeria’s economy has fallen squarely on his ministry as the oil industry has floundered and the revenue originating from it had taken a plunge, adding that no serious government will fold its arms and watch without doing something. According to him, to fix agriculture and the Nigerian economy, what the administration need to do is to harness the good policies it met on the table and blend with those that they are currently fashioning out, in a coherent and consistent manner such that it will instill confidence in the citizens, investors, market operators, farmers, traders and everyone along the various agricultural value chains.
He said that President Muhammadu Buhari has given his support for the interventions that could move agriculture forward and contribute to repositioning the economy and diversifying it away from overreliance on oil.Ogbeh said : “We have taken up the challenge of boosting local production of food as we reduce our dependency on food imports, boost domestic food production, revive rural economy and expand export earnings.
“With the huge agricultural potential of over 84 million hectares of land, abundant water bodies, particularly the various rivers, all-year-round favourable weather conditions and a variety of agro-ecologies suitable for agriculture, Nigeria is well positioned to feed its population as well as produce for export.
“The policies of my ministry will be proactive and responsive to the stakeholders’ peculiar needs. We will be nationalistic and patriotic in our approach. “We will support genuine investors and we will ensure that food is produced in abundance while we also boost the prospects of investors in the agricultural sector.”
Private sector investments
The increasing attention of the private investors in agriculture is a testimony to the fact that there is a lot of prospect in the sector. Particularly, the private sector investment in various agricultural value chains in Nigeria has re-positioned agriculture in the country in all ramifications. Indeed, the private sector investment has also provided an opportunity for the national agriculture community to familiarize themselves with the Federal Government’s priorities and plans for the sector.
No doubt, statistics revealed that private sector investments in the country’s agric sector has surpassed N1 trillion. Hence, agric experts have advised that the government needs to give more support to the private sector in order not to lose the goodwill the country had been enjoying in agriculture.
“There is risk of reduced investment spending that can lead to loses of opportunity for job creation by 16 priority investors due to lack of satisfaction with government support,” the UNDP Deputy Country Director of Programmes, Mandisa Mashologu said. He added that nascent system of coordination and inconsistency of policies, regulations, laws and administrative practices, which were key challenges, must become a thing of the past, if Nigeria must maintain its enviable leadership position in Africa’s agricultural transformation. Some of the multi-billion naira private sector investments in Nigeria’s agric sector are geared towards guaranteeing abundant food sufficiency and security.
Cosmas Maduka, Chairman of Coscharis Group, a foremost automobile dealer in Nigeria, has invested a fortune on rice production in Anambra State to the tune of 3,000 hectares and promised to increase it to 6,000 hectares soon.
Alhaji Sani Dangote, the vice chairman of Dangote Group, has indicated the commitment of his conglomerate in agricultural mechanisation. Dangote Group was among the investors who witnessed the flag-off of the second phase of the Mechanisation intervention of the Federal Government.
The company is among others taking up Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise centres in Nigeria. Sani Dangote, who is also the chairman of the Nigeria Agriculture Business Group (NABG), said: “There is an urgent need for private sector stakeholders in agriculture to work together towards growing Nigeria’s agriculture, diversifying from oil and gas dependency, encouraging agricultural industrialization, and creating an enabling environment for agribusiness to thrive.”
On rice production, Africa’s richest man, Dangote, announced earlier this year that he was making a $1 billion investment in Nigeria’s rice production, which seemed to vindicate the government’s approach.
The Dangote Group plans to produce one million tonnes of parboiled milled rice over the next five years, equivalent to 16 per cent of domestic demand. Other big players have also jumped in, including the Lagos- based conglomerate TGI, which opened a rice mill in August with a capacity of 120,000 tonnes, and Olam Nigeria, part of Singapore-based Olam International, which plans to boost its existing rice output.
However, despite the efforts of the private sector investors to boost Nigeria’s agriculture, they are still facing challenges in their farming businesses, including access to credit, access to land, land analysis, land management and security on farms. Also included are market access, standardization and post-harvest losses. All these challenges are currently affecting their huge investments in the sector.
With the huge private sector investment in Nigeria’s agriculture, experts have called for creation of enabling environment from government in order to safeguard their investments in the sector.
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