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Changemakers: Segun Agbaje; Award-winning CEO building a great African institution through digital transformation

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When is a bank not a bank? That is a question Segun Agbaje, the multiple award-winning CEO and Managing Director of Nigeria’s Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) has been getting to grips with as he forges a new path for banking in Africa.

Agbaje was always destined to become a banker, it seems, although he took a circuitous route. Initially, he quali?ed as an accountant and practised in the US before tiring of auditing and returning to Nigeria to follow his father’s footsteps into banking. There, in 1991, he joined an exciting new venture, the Guaranty Trust Bank, founded by a group of young Nigerians the previous year.

As he worked his way up through positions of increasing responsibility, several events in which Agbaje played a leading role shaped his thinking about GTBank’s future: the initial public o?ering in 2004, listing on the Lagos stock exchange; entering the international capital markets with a Eurobond issue and listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2007.

“Those transactions exposed me to the international ?nancial markets and the people who worked in them – merchant banks, investment bankers, lawyers, investors,” he says. “It gave me a better understanding of what people wanted from a ?rst-class bank and best-in-class practices. It also encouraged me to think about the bank as an international institution, rather than just a Nigerian institution, and what it took to compete in the global economy.”

Agbaje became CEO of GTBank in 2011 and won the coveted African Banker of the Year award the next year. The award recognises ?nancial industry leaders throughout Africa who have exercised “good vision and leadership” in guiding their organisation to strong ?nancial performance, as well as having contributed to the impact of Africa’s ?nancial services industry internationally.

During his tenure as CEO, the bank and Agbaje have won numerous awards. What is particularly interesting is the trend in types of award since GTBank has been under Agbaje’s leadership. Awards for ?nancial performance have been joined by Innovative Bank awards, Best Mobile Banking and Mobile Money awards, Best Digital Bank awards and, most recently, Digital Wallet of the Year award.

‘I’m not sure that, if we removed the word “bank” in five years, we would be losing anything. We might actually even be gaining something’

This trend re?ects Agbaje’s pioneering attitude towards digital transformation and the role of banking. Traditional bankers might think his view of the bank’s future a radical departure from mainstream banking, but for Agbaje it is change that has to happen: “Banks are going to become platforms, so we will become a trusted single, integrated platform,” he says. “Because the competition for banks has changed, where it was once other banks, now it is ?ntechs, telcos, Apple Pay, PayPal, payday-loan companies, salary-advance companies, even co?ee shops. Any bank that stays with the traditional banking model is going to get smaller and smaller. All these other companies will be taking part of your share of business.”

If some of the digital giants, like Google and Apple, start to develop banking services, the word ‘bank’ could soon be associated with ine?ciency and a lack of innovation, he adds. “I’m not sure that, if we removed the word ‘bank’ in ?ve years, we would be losing anything. We might actually even be gaining something.”

While there may be a lot of disruption in the banking sector, Agbaje has a head start on many traditional banks. For example, the bank launched its Habari mobile platform in November 2018: “What we’re trying to create is something where, when you come to the bank, however you do that, you are not just coming to pay and receive,” he says. “You can come into our ecosystem and do just about everything – pay for tickets, book holidays, stream music, buy online, watch videos, and then, because we are a bank, we can provide the payment engine.”

The reputation of bankers and banking took a knock following the global ?nancial crisis and Agbaje is well aware of the challenge banks face in terms of their relationship with the societies they serve. “A banking licence is a privilege, given to you by the regulator. Banks owe a social responsibility to the communities within which they operate,” he says. “Just as we monitor pro?ts, costs and return on equity, we must also monitor how much we give back in terms of social responsibility.”

This is not just talk. The bank interacts with the community in many ways, from football education programmes and tournaments to its internationally renowned annual conference on autism (now in its ninth year); from its You Read Initiative aimed at promoting a culture of reading to the Social Impact Challenge designed to unearth ideas that can enrich the lives of local communities.

Many of the bank’s CSR initiatives are aimed at community development, promoting entrepreneurs and small businesses. For example, there is the GTCrea8 Convention aimed at helping undergraduates “build successful businesses out of their passion”. The bank is also building shared service facilities for businesses in the food and fashion sectors, so that these small businesses can bene?t from the economies of scale enjoyed by large companies without the overheads.

The initiatives re?ect Agbaje’s passionate belief in Africa’s economic potential: “It is a continent that I am completely bullish about, because I don’t think there are many places in the world that have both the natural resources, the human population, the distribution of millennials; who are just incredible people. If you are able to tap into and unleash that human capital potential it is a continent that has a huge growth upside,” he says.

“What we have in Africa is a leadership problem. There are pockets, organisations, where the leadership is good. Those organisations function the way you would in a developed economy. If you start to get people with a track record of achievement running things – whether that is in countries, governments, parastatals – they will bring that excellence and achievement to government and Africa will start to change.”

He is just the leadership role model that the younger generation needs. “My values are simple ones. I believe in hard work, humility, integrity, discipline. Those are the things that drive me,” he says. “If you have those values, show them, inculcate them into all the decisions that you make and you will be ?ne.”

He has naturally given some thought to what he might do after his time at GTBank: “Maybe I will get another platform to do something in the private sector. It could be in a completely di?erent sector to banking. My ?rst choice would be an Africa-focused organisation. A second option would be something, if not solely focused on Africa, with an emerging market emphasis.”

He would also be interested, he says, in mentoring young people with small businesses; helping them to think about organisational structure and governance, for example.

But for now, with two-and-a-half years left on his contract, he is fully focused on the transformation underway at GTBank. “I’m not ?nished,” he says. “We are trying to build a great African institution; putting the bank in the position I think it should be in – not just ?nancially, but socially, being a well-run enterprise.”

Agbaje is not someone to trumpet his achievements, but if his vision for the future of one of Africa’s largest and most important banks comes to fruition, more plaudits are likely to be heading his way.

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Suicide: NAFDAC announces plan to further regulate Sniper

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The Nigerian government may direct a change in the package of ‘Sniper’, an agro-chemical that has increasingly become a choice killer for persons contemplating suicide, an official said.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said it is partnering with other relevant bodies on this as part of plans to discourage the use of Sniper as a tool for suicide.

This is in response to calls for a check on the proliferation and ease of access to Sniper in markets and streets across the nation.

According to Vanguard Newspaper, the Director General of NAFDAC, Christiana Adeyeye, said Sniper containers “could now be made very difficult to open, or may be turned into a spray rather than the liquid contents it is known for.”

The suicide rate has increased in Nigeria with Sniper among the agents popularly used.

Notable among the reported incidents is that of a 400-level student of the Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Chukwuemeka Akachi.

There was another case of a pastor in a popular Pentecostal church who recently committed suicide after consuming the deadly substance.

That was before Ayomide and Ajani Damilola of the University of Lagos were reported to have killed themselves using the insecticide following the accusations that they stole clothes in their hostel.

Another 32-year-old banker and mother of two, identified as Peace, of Ughelli, Delta State, committed suicide over her husband’s alleged infidelity. She also took Sniper.

Sniper: An easy killer?

The ease of access to Sniper despite its wrong use has become a worry for many Nigerians.

Bottles of Sniper can be picked up easily on the streets as they are sold openly in the market.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the method used for 20 per cent of global suicides was through pesticide self-poisoning and they mostly occur in developing countries.

Suicide victims appear to find gulping the liquid content of the agro-chemical inside a white container an easier route out.

But experts argue that it is easier to die by a bullet on the forehead than to face the agony that follows after drinking sniper.

NAFDAC’s warning

Mrs Adeyeye also discouraged the use of Sniper and other agro-chemicals for the preservation of food as they contain substances harmful to the human body.

“We also decry poor handling of foods in Nigeria by producers and sellers, because the populace and consumers are being exposed unduly to health risks from contaminants.

“The use of unapproved insecticides such as Sniper for the preservation of grains by unauthorised persons, the use of containers contaminated with hazardous chemicals such as fertilizer bags for grains or chemical drums and jerry cans for food storage are classic examples of a common practice among the market men and women due to ignorance,” the NAFDAC chief said.

Why Nigerians use Sniper indoors

Sniper is a DDVP, 2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate compound, marketed in Nigeria by Swiss-Nigerian Chemical Company, as a synthetic organophosphorus. Many Nigerians have, however, converted it to an indoor insecticide.

Sniper is predominantly used as an insecticide because of its effectiveness in killing insects better than well-established brands of insecticide.

The demand is also fuelled by its affordability. A 100ml of sniper goes for between N200 and N300 while its competitors cost as much as N750 for 100ml.

“However, Nigerians may be paying a heavier price with their health in the long term, if the trend is left unchecked”, a microbiologist, Fatima Ahmed, explained.

“The instruction on Sniper says apply diluted portions to crops and there’s a ‘withdrawal’ time in which the crop should not be consumed so the active ingredient degrades to minimal level before consumption. Now compare this minute concentration to drinking from the original sniper bottle,” she noted in the report.

According to her, health experts have raised concerns over the indiscriminate use of Sniper pesticide in the control of mosquitoes, cockroaches and other household insects.

“They warned on its dangerous effects, especially to respiratory organs and even carcinogenic risks. A person may be exposed to the associated risk of Sniper through inhalation, absorption via the skin, ingestion, and eye contact.”

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Titan Trust Bank set for grand entry into Nigeria

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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.

This newspaper 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.

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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Globacom celebrates Democracy Day with Nigerians

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Digital Transformation Leader, Globacom has joined men and women of goodwill to send good wishes to citizens of Nigeria on the occasion of the celebration of the country’s Democracy Day.

June 12 was designated as Democracy Day by the current administration last year in recognition of the highly regarded election held on that date in 1993. The election won by Bashorun MKO Abiola was annulled to the disappointment of most Nigerians.

Globacom in a statement released from its head office on Tuesday said the annulled election played a major role in the entrenchment of democratic governance in the country.

Globacom said the experience of Nigerians before, during and after the elections has helped to shape democracy and ensured its stability in Nigeria.

“The experience of June 12 is a national watershed in our democratic trajectory. It speaks to Nigerians’ passionate desire for democratic governance, liberty, rule of law, human rights and the inalienable right to vote and be voted for. It is a metaphor that symbolizes the country’s rejection of repression of people’s will in any form, shape or size”, the statement said.

The telecom company noted that Nigeria has had two decades of five successive democratic governments since June 12, 1993.

While praying for Nigerians to enjoy more of the dividends of democracy, Globacom urged Nigerians to continue to safeguard democratic tenets in words, deeds and actions.

Globacom expressed the hope that the ongoing democracy would lead the country to economic sufficiency and greatness.

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