The Central Bank of Nigeria recently beamed its searchlight on the activities of the members of the boards of First Bank of Nigeria Holdings and First Bank of Nigeria and has exposed the rot in the financial sector.
The fact that Otudeko owes FBN #75 billion has not been disputed. According to Oba Otudeko, he will eventually repay the loan if it is restructured accordingly but this is coming from an individual who has a penchant for defaulting on loan repayments. Ecobank Nigeria Limited is still trying to recover its #5 billion loan facility extended to Mr. Oba Otudeko and his companies- Honeywell Flour Mills Plc., Anchorage Leisures Limited, and Siloam Global Services.
There are so many individuals like the erstwhile Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Holdings and present Chairman of Honeywell Group, Mr. Oba Otudeko, who take advantage of the lapses in banking regulations to feather their nest.
There are diverse non-performing loans by individuals and companies with high net worth and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) must be empowered to recover these loans from these powerful entities.
The quick action by CBN to diffuse the tension and shore up public confidence is very commendable. Godwin Emefiele, the governor of Central Bank, had tried to prevent the sack of Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the CEO/Managing Director, who succeeded the bank’s erstwhile Managing Director, Mr. Bisi Onasanya in 2016. He stated that he had called Otudeko who rebuffed the calls.
The press conference held by the former Chairperson of the bank, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika did not address the non-performing loans by Mr. Oba Otudeko but instead was used as an avenue to justify her actions. Questions that she should have been asked are “Were you aware of the loans to Mr. Otudeko and what steps did you take to recover the #75 billion loan facility?” “Is the loan to Otudeko one with sufficient collateral?” “Did Godwin Emefiele, the governor of Central Bank, persuade you to halt the sack of Dr. Adesola Adeduntan and if yes, why was it ignored?” “Why did you not report Mr. Otudeko to the financial regulators?”
It is unbecoming of a Chairman to be unaware of the activities of the company and Mrs. Ibukun Awosika cannot say she was ignorant of this. If she was unaware then this puts a dent on her qualifications as an ardent administrator.