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The Story Of How Herbert Wigwe and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede Took Over Access Bank

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Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, co-founder of Access Bank Plc, has disclosed a rare insight into how himself and partner, Herbert Wigwe bought and transformed Access Bank Plc through the capital market.

The billionaire banker revealed this during the just concluded African Stock Exchanges Association (ASEA) conference held in Lagos.

Speaking in a chat with Oscar Onyema, the session moderator and CEO, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Aig-Imhokuede said prior to the takeover of the old Access Bank, the financial institution was a very small bank and had been listed on the NSE.

“It was a small bank listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange but wasn’t being run well. They tried to raise capital, and the markets were not responding very positively to its attempt to raise capital,” the former bank CEO said.

He then narrates how they make the move to actualize the takeover of the bank from the old owners.

“That was the opportunity for myself and Herbert Wigwe, whom I had convinced crazily that we should leave Guaranty Trust Bank and buy Access Bank. It took $10 million to buy 51 per cent of Access Bank. Between Herbert and I, we had $2 million. We understood the markets, and we were able to fund a group that basically raised $10 million, and then we bought Access Bank.

“Without Access Bank being listed, this story would never have happened. It would have been much difficult,” he added.

Speaking further, Aig-Imoukhuede noted that after the acquisition, he set the audacious goal of making Access Bank being among the top ten banks in Nigeria.

“In 2002, we bought into Access Bank, and the first thing I learned was that the dollar balance sheet of Access Bank was a bit smaller than Aliko Dangote’s credit card limit. I thought to myself, after GTBank, what had I gotten myself into.”

He continued, “In the market then, Access Bank was 80 out of 90 banks. We came to the stock exchange and said that in five years’ time, Access Bank would be among the top 10 banks. The market didn’t laugh. The investors didn’t laugh. They looked at these highly driven young men and women and said, let’s give them a chance. Five years later, we were number 8.”

After meeting the top 10 target set, Aig-Imokhuede’s team set an even bigger goal of becoming one of the top 5 banks in Nigeria.

“We then said in five years’ time, we would be in the top five. Moving from 80 to 8, was a bit easier than from 8 to top 5, because the institutions around were very formidable. That in itself, also concretised the need for us to grow regional,” he confessed while claiming that Access Bank is currently in the third or fourth position in Nigeria, depending on what metric used.

Aig-Imoukhuede also hinted that there’s a major deal in the works and gave advice to entrepreneurs interested in rolling out across Africa.

The successful banker who in his post–Access Bank career founded Coronation Capital, stated that basic needs were yet to be met in Africa.

“If you look at the African opportunity, it’s about meeting basic needs, because basic needs are largely unprovided for, and provide solutions to those basic needs at scale. Think about Aliko and cement,” he said.

In his view, African financial providers had played a lot on the short end of financial solutions. Money transfer, credit cards, but the need around safety, security and wealth creation is completely unmet today, apart from in South Africa.

“Yes, we are beginning to open pensions; yes, we are beginning to grow an asset management field, but honestly speaking, we are on the ground floor. When I left Access Bank, I said I’m going to keep my investments in short money, but focus my mind on the long money game.”

He then gave a brief into why he founded the Coronation Capital after he left Access Bank.

“So Coronation Capital is essentially a private equity platform that has grown into a much larger diversified investment management platform. We want to, as we did with Access Bank, establish very firmly in Nigeria and then grow regional.”

The former President of Nigerian Stock Exchange hinted there is a deal in the works involving Coronation and the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“I’m giving you a sneak preview into a major announcement you are going to hear in January, but I think a lot of money is going to be made in that space. The stock exchange for the Coronation Investment platform is a tool that we are going to be providing to the market. So there’s a lot going to happen,” he added.

Aig-Imokhuede said the move would have taken place prior to this time, but for his serving as the President of the NSE.

His words; “My being President of the Exchange held me down, because I couldn’t do things that would put me in conflict in my role. So as I disengage, I would be able to unleash my creativity in the capital markets for wealth creation.”

“Whether the country is small or the country is big, the country will have a President, the country will have a Central Bank Governor, and other regulators, who must be given their sovereign respect.”

“You need a lot of energy and you need a lot of relational skills when you say you want to roll out. When you receive a phone call that this President wants to see you now, you need to get on a plane and make sure you see him. When you need an approval, or a policy context that can make or mar your dream, you need to interact.”

Aig-Imoukhuede also gave a glimpse into his interest in philanthropic efforts.

“The one thing I have found across African countries is that it was too often the exception, that the public service in Africa, was an enabler of dreams. In Africa, too often policymakers and policy implementers were disablers of dreams. And I said, why? Why should I almost have to die to make my business work? Why should I as a barber in Obalende, in addition to learning how to cut hair, why do I have to learn how to be a power generator to run a shop?”

“I then did a study, and I found that over several years from the mid-70s, Africa suffered a massive under-investment in capacity development of the public sector, while there was a shift of massive investments to the private sector.”

“We cannot afford to live in Africa, with this under-investment in capacity in the public sector; we will all suffer for it. So, AIG (Africa Institute of Governance) is all about building capacity in the public sector. So, the first thing we did was scholarships to Oxford University Blavantik School of Government, to study for a Masters in Public Policy (MPP), on the condition that you must come back and work for your home country. Next, was a fellowship programs for public servants who have excelled.”

Aig-Imoukhuede also disclosed that the organisation was working on a world-class finishing school that will be as good as JFK and BSG in Africa and for Africans.

In addition, AIG was working with the civil service in Nigeria around reform.

He listed two ways African Stock Exchanges can provide value.

“The first thing is this: clearly an exchange in Africa will have to walk the same path as exchanges across the world to make themselves fit for purpose. If you are mutual, you have to demutualise.”

According to him, this would enable the exchanges to be more entrepreneurial in thinking while adopting technology would also help exchanges be more useful.

“In addition, technology can also play a big role. I think that with the very many options around, from blockchain to distributed ledger technology, to simply digital systems for distributing retail products, the ability to leapfrog and serve retail markets is enormous.”

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Buhari govt insists on VAT increment, gives reason

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Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, has insisted that Value Added Tax (VAT) has to increase.

She said this while noting that the nation will not be able to reach 80 per cent revenue performance for 2019.

Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals, said that as at half year, the actual aggregate revenue for 2019 was N2.04 trillion, which was 58 per cent of the prorate target.

Ahmed said of the figure, oil revenue accounted for N900 billion, Company Income Tax (CIT) N349.11 billion, Value Added Tax (VAT) N81.36 billion and Customs Collections N184.10 billion.

“As to whether we will reach the N8.33 trillion at the end of 2019 is very unlikely and that is why we have to make special efforts to boost revenue performance”, NAN quoted her as saying.

“It is clear that we can not reach even 80 per cent and that is why we have to do several things to make sure that revenue performance is enhanced.

“Releases did not start until late July and as at last week we had scheduled and releases are now up to N650 billion.”

According to her, N294.63 billion was released for capital expenditure as at the end of September, but the target is to be able to reach N900 billion by the end of December 2019.

Ahmed said that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, as against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion, representing 76 per cent performance.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 2019 Appropriation Bill was presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 19, 2018, but was signed into law on May 27, 2019.

The N8.92 trillion budget had a revenue projection of N6.97 trillion, consisting of oil revenue projected at N3.73 trillion while non-oil revenue was estimated at N1.39 trillion.

Estimates for non-oil revenue consisted of N799.52 billion from CIT, N229.34 billion from VAT and Customs Duties of N302.55 billion.

The 2019 budget was predicated on oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day at 60 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 per dollar.

On the issue of border closure, she said only the main borders that were manned by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other security operatives were closed.

She added that the nation had seen the benefits of the closure and that though there were some challenges, the NCS and the committee working on the borders closure was looking at how to ease some of the difficulties.

“It has to be Nigeria first and we have to protect our own industries because some of our neighbours have been flagrantly abusing commitments that we jointly signed to and the President has said this is no longer acceptable.

“The border closure is not forever, there will be an end date, the Federal Government is currently in discussion with governments of our neighbouring countries Niger and Benin Republic.

“We are negotiating to make sure that the challenges that led to the closure of the borders are addressed on both sides but, especially that our neighbors meet the commitments that we signed unto several years ago.

“Once those discussions are concluded, the borders will be opened again,” she said.

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Fuel subsidy to gulp N450bn in 2020

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Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, says under-recovery, also known as subsidy, on petrol will be N450 billion in 2020.

She said this at the public presentation of the 2020 budget proposals in Abuja on Monday.

Ahmed said it was called “under-recovery” because it was the cost of operation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“We have a provision for under-recovery of PMS in the sum of N450 billion. If you look at the budget office website, it is in the fiscal framework, which is an annexure to the budget,” she said.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, presented a budget proposal of N10.33 trillion to a joint session of the national assembly.

He put the federal government’s estimated revenue in 2020 at N8.155 trillion, comprising oil revenue of N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenues of N1.81 trillion and other revenue of N3.7 trillion.

Other estimates are N556.7 billion for statutory transfers, N2.45 trillion for debt servicing and provision of N296 billion as sinking fund.

The 2020 budget is based on an oil production estimate of 2.18 million barrels per day, oil price benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar.

Ahmed said that recurrent (non-debt) spending was expected to rise by 11.28 per cent, from N4.39 trillion in 2019 to N4.88 trillion in 2020.

This, she said, would reflect in salaries and pensions, including provisions for implementation of the new minimum wage.

Ahmed said the overall budget deficit of N2.17 trillion represents 1.52 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and N1.64 trillion of it would be funded by both domestic and external borrowing.

According to her, the external sources will provide N850 billion, while domestic sources will provide N744.99 billion.

Citing the top 12 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) capital allocations, she said the ministry of works and housing was allocated N259.2 billion, power N127.67 billion, transportation N123.07 billion, education (including Universal Basic Education Commission) N162.74 billion.

Others are defence N99.87 billion, health N90.98 billion, agriculture and rural development, N79.79 billion and water resources, N78.34 billion.

Humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, N45.45 billion, aviation, N53.85 billion, industry, trade and investment, N41.34 billion and science and technology, N37.55 billion.

She, however, said that there were key expenditures captured in the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF), but were not in the 2020 budget.

“They are N61 billion for the Presidential Power Initiative, N1.22 trillion for federally funded projects in the oil and gas sector to be undertaken by NNPC on behalf of the federation,” she said.

“Others are: N272 billion as transfers to Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) for infrastructure projects in tertiary institutions and N82.35 billion as transfer to Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Investment (NSIA) for Public Private Partnership/Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF).”

For revenue, Ahmed said there were strategic revenue growth initiatives (SRGI) aimed at boosting revenue generation to meet targeted revenue to GDP ratio of 15 percent.

She added that the SRGI would be implemented with increased vigour to improve revenue collection and expenditure management.

She said Nigeria must mobilise significant resources to invest in human capital development and critical infrastructure.

“Some reforms will be tough but they must be done to look at the facts and be frank to ourselves,” she said.

“However, we will engage the public sector in whatever we do, including any changes in taxes, with regards to rates or administration methods.”

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N1.1million ‘Jesus Shoes’ with holy water soles and mini crucifix go viral

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A pair of trainers dubbed ‘Jesus Shoes‘ — with holy-water injected soles coupled with a mini crucifix and drop of blood on the tongue to match — have begun to go viral.

The now-trending godly sneakers, which were created by MSCHF (Mischief), a Brooklyn-based creatives, sold out within minutes of being released online on Tuesday, October 8.

The MSCHF rebranded a pair of Nike Air Max 97 sneakers to implement the idea of walking on water with ‘Jesus Shoes’.

Nike was, however, not connected to the project in any way.

The ‘Jesus Shoes’, which are selling for as much as £3,000 (approximately N1.1million), contain holy water from the Jordan river in the bubbled soles, a steel crucifix on top of the laces of the right trainer and a red blob at the tip of each trainer tongue to signify the blood of Christ.

Each pair contains 60 cubic centimeters of liquid.

On the Stockx sneaker trading website the shoes are priced at $3,000-$4,300 a pair.

In addition to the holy water, which was blessed by a priest, there is also the biblical verse ‘Matthew 14:25’ — which accounts the act of Jesus walking on water — referenced on the side of the shoes.

The bottoms of the shoes are also dyed a reddish tint to mimic the shoes worn by popes long ago.

“We thought of that Arizona Iced Tea and Adidas collab, where they were selling shoes that [advertised] a beverage company that sells iced tea at bodegas,” Daniel Greenberg, the company’s head of commerce, told the New York Post.

“So we wanted to make a statement about how absurd collab culture has gotten. We were wondering, what would a collab with Jesus Christ look like?. As a Jew myself, the only thing I knew was that he walked on water.”

The company also disclosed that more of the sneakers will be available from October 22.

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