Access Bank Plc shareholders on Thursday commended the board, management and staff for the impressive performance recorded in 2019 financial year in spite of challenging operating environment.
The shareholders gave the commendation at the bank’s 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held by proxy in Lagos due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Sunny Nwosu, Founder, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), lauded the bank for improved results and dividend payment.
Nwosu said the dividend was very timely given the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said Access Bank had a good foresight by merging with defunct Diamond Bank Plc.
“The professional and seamless manner with which the integration was done should be commended and shareholders appreciate the board and management,”Nwosu ssid.
According to him, the future remains very bright for the all shareholders, considering the synergy the merger has brought to the bank.
He said that they would also benefit from the expertise the management and staff continued to deploy to maintain a leading role in the retail banking space.
Nwosu also lauded leading efforts of Access Bank in the private sector-led Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), to support the Federal Government to fight the pandemic.
Also speaking, Mrs Bisi Bakare of Pragmatic Shareholders Association of Nigeria, noted that unlike some of its competitors, the bank had recorded increased profit in the past three years.
“Shareholders have confidence in the board and management to continue to deliver improved performance, going forward,” she said.
In his address, Dr Herbert Wigwe, the bank’s Group Managing Director/CEO, said the group delivered a 26 per cent increase in gross earnings of N666.8 billion, from N528.7 billion in 2018.
According to him, the company recorded interest income growth of 41 per cent from previous levels to N155.9billion, despite declining interest rate environment.
“The effects of an enlarged loan book contributed significantly to the interest income growth of N155.9 billion (+41 per cent y/y), leading to strong bottom-line figures.
“The net effect on operating income resulted in strong profit before tax (PBT) of N115.4billion, as against N103.2 billion achieved in 2018.
“The strength of the performance reflects a growing franchise supported by digital capabilities and improving customer service touchpoints.
“The retail business gained momentum, leveraging opportunities in key sectors to consolidate market share dominance through our digital loans.
“The wholesale business also continued to soar in the year, following intense marketing drive and continued investment in the sector to deliver stronger synergies,” he said.
Wigwe said the bank ended the year with profit after tax of N97.51 billion, up from N94.98 billion in 2018, and paid a final dividend of 40k to bring the total dividend to 65k per share.
Wigwe explained that the merger with Diamond Bank produced a truly diversified institution with remarkable retail presence and solid wholesale market share.
“This has propelled us towards achieving our five- year strategic objectives to create the largest bank in Nigeria by total assets as well as largest in Africa by customer base with over 36 million unique customers across the network.
“Using an agile approach and with strong dedication, we have achieved a significant milestone in financial services on the continent whilst delivering the fastest and most seamless customer integration globally.
“With the emergence of the new entity, the bank is well-positioned to cater to the retail business through a broader reach and product offerings tailored to individual customer needs and delivered efficiently.
“Access Bank is now a tier one retail banking franchise with strong digital payments capabilities and benefiting from a diversified business mix,” he said.
Wigwe said the bank was already addressing the issue of high operating expenses and taking drastic measures to ensure that expenses were reduced significantly.
He said that the effect would be felt mostly in the second, third and final quarter of 2020.
Speaking on how Access Bank was running its business in the COVID-19 period, the GMD assured that it had put in place a robust business continuity process, enough to sustain its performance going forward.
“Access Bank was well prepared for the COVID-19 early enough and created ways of working from home and working with our customers.
“We set up links with our customers and many ways of reaching out to our customers three or four times in a day.
“This happened even before we started working with the larger society and enabled us to start fighting this pandemic.
“So, Access Bank has put a system in place and is now working with CACOVID to make sure that everyone knows what he is doing,” he said.
Edited By: Angela Okisor/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)https://nnn.ng/access-bank-2019-performance-dividend-payment-excite-shareholders/
Edo electorate hail INEC, security agencies
The people also lauded the security operatives deployed in the area for demonstrating maturity and professionalism during the exercise.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that INEC ensured timely distribution of electoral materials, followed by accrediction and voting in the area.
Mr Matthew Iduoriyenkenwen, the former state Commissioner in the Niger Delta Development Commission, who voted at Umelu Primary School Ward 5, comprising Units 26 and 27, said that materials arrived early in the area.
Iduoriyenkenwen also said that accreditation and voting commenced simultaneously on schedule and in an orderly manner in Unit 27.
He said that although materials arrived late at Unit 26, the development did affect the peaceful conduct of the exercise in the area.
Mr Amadi Osayande, a former Controller of Edo Correctional Centre, described INEC’s performance at the poll as impressive.
Osayande also said that the exercise was peaceful and orderly at Oka Market, Ward 8, Unit 37, where he voted.
Mr Martins Evbuomwan, who voted at Abico Market, Ward 7 with Units 1 to 13, also lauded the peaceful conduct of the exercise in the area.
The situation was also the same at Ivbeiye-nvea Primary School, Ward 5, Units 1 to 17 and St. Marria Goretti Secondary School, Ward 6, 13 to 18.
Mrs Esohe Aihamoje said that materials arrived early and that accreditation and voting commenced on schedule.
NAN reports that operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Corps and police were seen in all the polling units visited.
However, in Uhunmwode LGA, there were cases of card reader failure during accreditation in some of the polling units visited.
Although INEC officials and materials arrived early at Oke-Orhue, Ward 4, Units 3, the card reader for Unit 3 could not function during accreditation.
However, the malfunctioning card reader was later replaced and accreditation and voting commenced at about 11: 35 am.
A voter, Mr Reymond Oshogbe, expressed delight over the timely replacement of the faulty card reader, adding that the process was calm and peaceful.
At Ehor, Ward 1, the headquarters of Uhumwode LGA, the electoral process was also peaceful with large turnout of voters.
Edited By: Constance Imasuen/Sam Oditah
Edo poll: Gov. Wike commends INEC, security agencies for peaceful conduct
Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers on Saturday commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and security agencies for the peaceful conduct of Edo governorship election.
Wike made the commendation while addressing journalists at Government House, Benin.
He said: “For now I don’t have power to announce results, but from the reports we are getting so far from the field, I think we are happy.
“I want to commend INEC so far for making sure that people voted in different polling units.
“I will also commend the security agencies so far for making sure that there was no much violence and if that continues I think it’s progress.
“Election is a process, the collation has not be done; it’s after the collation we can now give final conclusion of our appraisal.
“So far, I can say they ‘ve done well.
“What we are saying is that they should maintain what has happened and INEC should make sure that nobody tries to change the will of the people; that is what we are saying.
I think we are very happy with what we have now. I think we have over 2, 000 polling units results now.
“I think we are very happy and if it continues this way this election will be one of the best elections we will have had in Nigeria.
“It’s not just about voting. After voting, votes are counted and then you go for collation.
“This is the critical period and they should protect their collation centers wether at the ward level, local government level or state level so that everybody who has voted will be happy that there will must prevail.”
On the alleged sieged laid on him by over 300 policemen in his hotel room in Benin on Friday, he said the episode was now history.
“What happened yesterday has happened; you have seen me now, I have not left Edo,” he added
Edited By: Ejike Obeta
Bye-elections: 12 candidates jostle for Lagos East, 8 for Kosofe Constituency II
Twelve candidates will be contesting for the Lagos East Senatorial bye-election slated for Oct. 31.
Mr Femi Akinbiyi, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) spokesman in Lagos State, gave the figure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday.
He also said that eight candidates would be contesting for Kosofe Constituency II, Lagos State House of Assembly bye-election.
“In accordance with Section 31 Subsection 3 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), the commission in Lagos State has published the list of nominated candidates for Lagos East Senatorial bye-election in the five local government areas that constitute the senatorial district.
“We have also published the list of nominated candidates for the Lagos House of Assembly Kosofe Constituency II bye-election in the six registration areas (wards) that constitute the state constituency.
“Twelve candidates of 12 political parties are vying for the Lagos East Senatorial seat, while eight parties are fielding candidates for the Kosofe Constituency II, Lagos Assembly bye-election.
” The local government areas in the senatorial district are Somolu, Ikorodu, Ibeju-Lekki, Epe and Kosofe,” Akinbiyi said.
According to him, the list has been published in all the affected local governments and registration areas (wards) since Sept. 17, being the last day for the publication of nominated candidates for the two bye-elections.
NAN reports that in the final list signed by Mrs Bose Oriaran-Anthony, the Lagos East Senatorial District contestants include, Mr Muyiwa Adebanjo of Action Alliance (AA), Ms Mercy Adeoye of African Action Congress (AAC) and Mr John Kome of African Democratic Congress (ADC).
The others are Mr Adebowale Ogunlaru of Action Democratic Party (ADP), Mr Adetokunbo Abiru, All Progressive Congress (APC); Mr Olusola Babatope, Allied Peoples Movement (APM); Mrs Florence Trautman, Labour Party (LP) and Ms Adijat Lawal, New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
The rest are Mr Babatunde Gbadamosi, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); Mr Olakunle Adisa, National Rescue Movement (NRM); Mr Saheed Aluko, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Mr Taiwo Temitope, Young Progressive Party (YPP).
For the Kosofe Constituency II bye-election, the eight contestants are Messrs John Akerele of AA, Sadiq Olawale of AAC, Wasiu Saheed of APC, Adekunle Oladapo of LP, Muyideen Agoro of NNPP, Ademorin Adelaja of NRM, Sikiru Alebiosu of PDP and Mrs Mary Abojeh of ADC.
NAN reports that out of the 12 candidates contesting Lagos East Senatorial bye-election, three are females, and among the eight contestants for Kosofe constituency II bye-elections only one is a female.
The two bye-elections, slated for Oct. 31, became necessary following the demise of the two occupants of the seats at both the senate and Lagos Assembly.
Edited By: Edith Bolokor/Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Vulture Day: NCF advocates Vulture Conservation
As the world marks the International Vulture Awareness Day, the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) on Saturday underscored the importance of Vultures in the maintenance of balance in the ecosystem.
The NCF in a communique released after its five days webinar forum on Vultures and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos, noted that vultures were sanitary officers with a clean-up service on the environment.
Dr Joseph Onoja, Director of Technical Programmes, NCF, in his presentation, revealed that nature had bestowed on humanity vultures with the role of environmental sanitary officers with a clean-up service worth $11,000 a year.
Onoja said: “Without vultures, humans are vulnerable to the spread of infectious diseases, because in the absence of vultures, dogs and rats become the clean-up crew.
“’The danger in this is that these animals are not equipped for such and are close to human population, exposing us to diseases.”
In his presentation, Mr Aniekan-Abasi Emmah Uwatt, a conservation biologist and ornithologist, observed that human activities were the major drivers to the vultures’ threatened status.
He added that the world could suffer from negligence if something drastic was not done to preserve the remaining vulture species in Nigeria.
“Imagine a world without vultures, it will lead to disease outbreaks such as anthrax; rabies and botulism.
‘“We would also have dirty environment with dead carcasses and foul smells,” he said.
Another facilitator, Mr Apeverga Paul Tersoo, Lecturer, Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State , said that Vultures might not be very appealing by their looks, but these birds, also known as scavengers do the dirty jobs of cleaning our environment.
Tersoo said they do this by taking care of carcasses and preventing the spread of diseases, which in turn keeps the ecosystem healthy.
“’The importance of these natural environmental cleaners cannot be over emphasised because the benefits we derive from them for free will cost us so much that it can only be imagined.
“A case study is seen in India where a crash in the vulture population was observed after the birds fed on carcasses of livestock that were treated with Diclofenac.
“The Indian white-rumped vulture was the most hit, with a decline rate of 99.9 per cent.
“What followed was a surge in population of feral dogs that were infected with rabies from litters of carcasses as a result of the absence of our natural cleaners (the vultures).
“Consequently, an increase in human deaths from rabies nearly caused a public health catastrophe that saw the government of India spending about $34 billion to fight the spread of the disease,” he said.
Malam Samaila Mohammed Alkali, Airport Wildlife Hazard Management Coordinator, Kano Airport, said that aviation was a major threat to the survival of vultures.
“This is due to bird strike. Bird strikes occur when bird physically collide with aircraft,” Alkali said
According to him, approximately 10,692 vultures were killed by aircraft between 2008 and 2015, these may represent 1,500 Vultures killed every year for the period of seven years.
Meanwhile, in his presentation, Mr Adewale Awoyemi, Head of Forest Centre, Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan observed that the vanishing vultures had critical implications on human health and existence.
Awoyemi said that the destruction of their habitats by deforestation was a threat to vulture conservation.
International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD) is celebrated on the first Saturday of September every year to reflect on the importance of vultures and the essential role they play in a healthy ecosystem.
It also aims at spreading awareness about range of threat facing vultures and urge the people to take action and prevent extinction of the ecological bird specie.
Edited By: Peter Ejiofor)