As is the case all over the world, there are few women heading top executive positions in Nigeria’s corporate space. While this is something to worry about, it becomes even more worrisome when those few women who manage to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, find themselves caught up in some unfortunate circumstances which tend to overshadow their competence and accomplishments.
This is the story of Mrs. Tomi Somefun, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria’s troubled Unity Bank Plc and our corporate personality of the week. Get to know her.
About Mrs. Oluwatomi Ayodele Somefun: her academic background
Mrs. Somefun was a student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, graduating in 1981 with a Bachelor of Education in English language. Although she was never a trained accountant nor economist, she went on to acquire other important professional certifications after her university days. Today, she is a prominent Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN).
Having undergone graduate studies at both the Harvard Business School and University of Columbia Business School, Mrs. Somefun is an alumnus of both prestigious American institutions of study. In the same vein, she has participated in quite a number of local and international training programmes which are specific to her banking profession. An example of such is the INSEAD Fontainebleau, in France.
She currently belongs to different professional bodies, including the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN), the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the Institute of Directors (IOD), among others.
Building a career as a professional
Mrs. Somefun is a modern Nigerian woman who has successfully maintained a professional career spanning at least thirty-three years. Note that while most of these years of experience have been in the financial sector, she also has experiences cutting across other sectors.
In her early days, she started out working at KPMG as a Senior Audit Assistant between 1982 and 1986. From there, she went on to work at Arthur Andersen in 1986 as a Senior Auditor. She has also been employed at Ventures & Trusts Limited, between 1989 and 1992, as an Associate.
Prior to her current appointment, Mrs. Somefun worked at Credit Bank Limited and UBA Plc. She was also the MD/CEO of UBA Capital & Trustee Limited and the Founding Managing Director of UBA Pension Custodian Limited: two of UBA Group’s major subsidiaries.
Mrs. Somefun also served as a Non-Executive Director on the boards of directors of UBA Foundations, UBA Trustees, UBA Nominees and UBA Registrars.
In the course of her career with Unity Bank Plc, she has served as an Executive Director in charge of Lagos and the South-West region of Nigeria until August, 2015.
As though to cement her long-standing career in treasury, investment and commercial banking, Mrs. Tomi Somefun, on August 12th, 2015, assumed her new role as the Chief Executive Officer of Unity Bank Plc. She took over from the bank’s former CEO, Mr. Henry James Semenitari, as the first woman ever appointed to that position in the history of the retail bank. She is also one of the few women holding CEO positions in Nigeria’s many banks.
Awards and recognitions
Meanwhile, as an attestation to her accomplished banking career, Mrs. Somefun, in 2016, was named as one of the top 25 most distinguished Chief Executive Officers of quoted Nigerian companies for the 2015 financial year.
Associating her name with the troubles in Unity Bank Plc
For a while now, there have been several indications of Unity Bank’s financial troubles. The problem boils down to some factors, including an overall low capitalisation at the bank as well as high volume of non-performing loans borrowed mostly by some former and current members of the bank’s board of directors.
In early 2018, Unity Bank Plc was somehow involved in the scandalous Milost Global Inc drama. Recall that Milost had proposed to invest as much as $1 billion in the bank. The deal never sailed through, even as it left behind trails of scandal and an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Recently, the Nigerian Stock Exchange sanctioned Unity Bank Plc by suspending the trading of its stock. This was due to the tier 2 bank’s failure to release its 2017 financial report on time. Note that the report, which was expected as at December 31st, 2017, never made it to the public domain until recently.
As the troubles in the bank persist, it can only be hoped that Mrs. Somefun and her team are doing everything possible to proffer much-needed solutions. This is important because Unity Bank Plc cannot afford to go down, at least not under her watch.
COVID-19 Update in Nigeria
On the 9th of July 2020, 499 new confirmed cases and 5 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.
The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continue to record significant increase as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 30,748 confirmed cases.
On the 9th of July 2020, 499 new confirmed cases and 5 deaths were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 2,302 samples across the country.
To date, 30,748 cases have been confirmed, 12,546 cases have been discharged and 689 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 171,931 tests have been carried out as of July 9th, 2020 compared to 169,629 tests a day earlier.
COVID-19 Case Updates- 9th July 2020,
- Total Number of Cases – 30,748
- Total Number Discharged – 12,546
- Total Deaths – 689
- Total Tests Carried out – 171,931
According to the NCDC, the 499 new cases were reported from 24 states- Lagos (157); Edo (59); Ondo (56); Oyo (31); Akwa Ibom (22); Borno (21); Plateau (19); Kaduna (18); Katsina (18); Bayelsa (17); FCT (17); Delta (14); Kano (11); Rivers (10); Enugu (8); Ogun (6); Kwara (4); Imo (3); Nasarawa (2); Osun (2); Abia (1); Ekiti (1); Niger (1); Yobe (1).
Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 11,827, followed by Abuja (2,365), Oyo (1,604), Edo (1,562), Delta (1,337), Kano (1,302), Rivers (1,294), Ogun (1,063), Kaduna (907), Katsina (646), Ondo (606), Borno (584), Gombe (524), Bauchi (519), Ebonyi (503), Plateau (497), Enugu (439), Abia (401), Imo (359), Jigawa (318).
Kwara state has recorded 311 cases, Bayelsa (299), Nasarawa (236), Osun (212), Sokoto (153), Akwa Ibom (134), Niger (125), Benue (121), Adamawa (100), Anambra (93), Kebbi (86), Zamfara (76), Yobe (62), Ekiti (46), Taraba (27), while Kogi and Cross River state have recorded 5 cases each.
Lock Down and Curfew
In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.
On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020.
|Date||Confirmed case||New cases||Total deaths||New deaths||Total recovery||Active cases||Critical cases|
|July 9, 2020||30748||499||689||5||12546||17513||7|
|July 8, 2020||30249||460||684||15||12373||17192||7|
|July 7, 2020||29789||503||669||15||12108||17012||7|
|July 6, 2020||29286||575||654||9||11828||16804||7|
|July 5, 2020||28711||544||645||11||11665||16401||7|
|July 4, 2020||28167||603||634||6||11462||16071||7|
|July 3, 2020||27564||454||628||12||11069||15867||7|
|July 2, 2020||27110||626||616||13||10801||15693||7|
|July 1, 2020||26484||790||603||13||10152||15729||7|
|June 30, 2020||25694||561||590||17||9746||15358||7|
|June 29, 2020||25133||566||573||8||9402||15158||7|
|June 28, 2020||24867||490||565||7||9007||14995||7|
|June 27, 2020||24077||779||558||4||8625||14894||7|
|June 26, 2020||23298||684||554||5||8253||14491||7|
|June 25, 2020||22614||594||549||7||7822||14243||7|
|June 24, 2020||22020||649||542||9||7613||13865||7|
|June 23, 2020||21371||452||533||8||7338||13500||7|
|June 22, 2020||20919||675||525||7||7109||13285||7|
|June 21, 2020||20242||436||518||12||6879||12847||7|
|June 20, 2020||19808||661||506||19||6718||12584||7|
|June 19, 2020||19147||667||487||12||6581||12079||7|
|June 18, 2020||18480||745||475||6||6307||11698||7|
|June 17, 2020||17735||587||469||14||5967||11299||7|
|June 16, 2020||17148||490||455||31||5623||11070||7|
|June 15, 2020||16658||573||424||4||5349||10885||7|
|June 14, 2020||16085||403||420||13||5220||10445||7|
|June 13, 2020||15682||501||407||8||5101||10174||7|
|June 12, 2020||15181||627||399||12||4891||9891||7|
|June 11, 2020||14554||681||387||5||4494||9673||7|
|June 10, 2020||13873||409||382||17||4351||9140||7|
|June 9, 2020||13464||663||365||4||4206||8893||7|
|June 8, 2020||12801||315||361||7||4040||8400||7|
|June 7, 2020||12486||260||354||12||3959||8173||7|
|June 6, 2020||12233||389||342||9||3826||8065||7|
|June 5, 2020||11844||328||333||10||3696||7815||7|
|June 4, 2020||11516||350||323||8||3535||7646||7|
|June 3, 2020||11166||348||315||1||3329||7522||7|
|June 2, 2020||10819||241||314||15||3239||7266||7|
|June 1, 2020||10578||416||299||12||3122||7157||9|
|May 31, 2020||10162||307||287||14||3007||6868||7|
|May 30, 2020||9855||553||273||12||2856||6726||7|
|May 29, 2020||9302||387||261||2||2697||6344||7|
|May 28, 2020||8915||182||259||5||2592||6064||7|
|May 27, 2020||8733||389||254||5||2501||5978||7|
|May 26, 2020||8344||276||249||16||2385||5710||7|
|May 25, 2020||8068||229||233||7||2311||5524||7|
|May 24, 2020||7839||313||226||5||2263||5360||7|
|May 23, 2020||7526||265||221||0||2174||5131||7|
|May 22, 2020||7261||245||221||10||2007||5033||7|
|May 21, 2020||7016||339||211||11||1907||4898||7|
|May 20, 2020||6677||284||200||8||1840||4637||7|
|May 19, 2020||6401||226||192||1||1734||4475||7|
|May 18, 2020||6175||216||191||9||1644||4340||7|
|May 17, 2020||5959||388||182||6||1594||4183||7|
|May 16, 2020||5621||176||176||5||1472||3973||7|
|May 15, 2020||5445||288||171||3||1320||3954||4|
|May 14, 2020||5162||193||168||3||1180||3815||4|
|May 13, 2020||4971||184||164||6||1070||3737||4|
|May 12, 2020||4787||146||158||6||959||3670||4|
|May 11, 2020||4641||242||152||10||902||3589||4|
|May 10, 2020||4399||248||142||17||778||3479||4|
|May 9, 2020||4151||239||127||11||745||3278||4|
|May 8, 2020||3912||386||118||10||679||3115||4|
|May 7, 2020||3526||381||108||4||601||2818||4|
|May 6, 2020||3145||195||104||5||534||2507||1|
|May 5, 2020||2950||148||99||5||481||2370||4|
|May 4, 2020||2802||245||94||6||417||2291||2|
|May 3, 2020||2558||170||88||2||400||2070||2|
|May 2, 2020||2388||220||86||17||351||1952||2|
|May 1, 2020||2170||238||69||10||351||1751||2|
|April 30, 2020||1932||204||59||7||317||1556||2|
|April 29, 2020||1728||196||52||7||307||1369||2|
|April 28, 2020||1532||195||45||4||255||1232||2|
|April 27, 2020||1337||64||41||0||255||994||2|
|April 26, 2020||1273||91||41||5||239||994||2|
|April 25, 2020||1182||87||36||3||222||925||2|
|April 24, 2020||1095||114||33||1||208||855||2|
|April 23, 2020||981||108||32||3||197||753||2|
|April 22, 2020||873||91||29||3||197||648||2|
|April 21, 2020||782||117||26||3||197||560||2|
|April 20, 2020||665||38||23||1||188||466||2|
|April 19, 2020||627||86||22||2||170||436||2|
|April 18, 2020||541||48||20||2||166||356||2|
|April 17, 2020||493||51||18||4||159||317||2|
|April 16, 2020||442||35||13||1||152||277||2|
|April 15, 2020||407||34||12||1||128||267||2|
|April 14, 2020||373||30||11||1||99||263||2|
|April 13, 2020||343||20||10||0||91||242||2|
|April 12, 2020||323||5||10||0||85||228||2|
|April 11, 2020||318||13||10||3||70||238||2|
|April 10, 2020||305||17||7||0||58||240||2|
|April 9, 2020||288||14||7||1||51||230||2|
|April 8, 2020||274||22||6||0||44||226||2|
|April 7, 2020||254||16||6||1||44||204||2|
|April 6, 2020||238||6||5||0||35||198||2|
|April 5, 2020||232||18||5||1||33||194||2|
|April 4, 2020||214||5||4||0||25||185||0|
|April 3, 2020||209||25||4||2||25||180||0|
|April 2, 2020||184||10||2||0||20||162||0|
|April 1, 2020||174||35||2||0||9||163||0|
|March 31, 2020||139||8||2||0||9||128||0|
|March 30, 2020||131||20||2||1||8||121||0|
|March 29, 2020||111||22||1||0||3||107||0|
|March 28, 2020||89||19||1||0||3||85||0|
|March 27, 2020||70||5||1||0||3||66||0|
|March 26, 2020||65||14||1||0||2||62||0|
|March 25, 2020||51||7||1||0||2||48||0|
|March 24, 2020||44||4||1||0||2||41||0|
|March 23, 2020||40||10||1||1||2||37||0|
|March 22, 2020||30||8||0||0||2||28||0|
|March 21, 2020||22||10||0||0||1||21||0|
|March 20, 2020||12||4||0||0||1||11||0|
|March 19, 2020||8||0||0||0||1||7||0|
|March 18, 2020||8||5||0||0||1||7||0|
|March 17, 2020||3||1||0||0||0||3||0|
|March 16, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 15, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 14, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 13, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 12, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 11, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 10, 2020||2||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 9, 2020||2||1||0||0||0||2||0|
|March 8, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 7, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 6, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 5, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 4, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 3, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 2, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|March 1, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|February 29, 2020||1||0||0||0||0||1||0|
|February 28, 2020||1||1||0||0||0||1||0|
How fund managers can help in period of low yield
With inflation holding steady, the low yields end up translating to negative returns.
It is often said that he who must find gold, must dig deeper because such is not found on the surface. With the current trends in interest rate, yield has become like gold, and those that must find it, should dig deeper than they have done before. It is no longer news that yield in traditional asset classes is approaching historically low levels. Indeed, yields are so low that yielder hunters are literally stuck. In one of my last pieces, I noted that the low yield had driven pension funds to the point of abandoning treasury bills as an asset class. The picture gets scarier and disheartening when viewed in real terms. With inflation holding steady, the low yields end up translating to negative returns when discounted for inflation.
Now that Treasury bills seem to be out of the question due to sub-zero yields, what can investors turn to? Here are a few things that investors could think of doing;
Invest in Money Market Funds: Money market funds have been the darling asset class for most Nigerians, due to their conservative nature and the fact that money market funds seem to be much easier to understand. The present low yield in the World market is also affecting money market funds but they still remain much higher than what is obtainable from Treasury Bills. Unfortunately, a great majority of fund managers do not have the yield of their money market funds on display when I visited their websites, below is a list of the prevailing money market yields in Nigeria for those that could be gleaned from the various website:
It may pay to shop around for yield as different funds present with different yields, as can be seen from the table above.
Fund Managers to the Rescue: One of the implications, if not the major implication of the ultra-low interest rate is that investors in yield driven asset classes, like money market funds, will either make minimal returns or no returns at all, especially when inflation is factored in. Unfortunately, most of these money market funds pay fees to the fund managers. To help the situation, it is time for fund managers to reduce or waive some of the fixed fees they charge investors like management fees. Investors should, therefore, ask fund managers for a renegotiation of the fee structure in such a way that the burden of low-interest rate is shared between the fund managers and the investors. Fund managers in places like the US are already doing this.
Loss Carryforward Provisions: Another way that investors can manage this situation is for them to ask fund managers to insert loss carry-forward provisions into the mutual fund agreement or prospectus. A loss carryforward provision is one which states that the fund manager does not get paid any incentive fee unless and until the fund attains its last known highest asset value. By having loss carryforward provisions, investors are afforded the time to recoup on losses before being charged further incentive fees.
Look for High Dividend Yield Stocks: Though stock investment remains riskier than money market funds and fixed income fund investments, in a low yield environment, it may pay to look for and invest in high dividend stocks that have a history of regular and consistent dividend payments.
Warning: Nothing in this article should be taken as investment advice and the author should not be held liable for using it as such.
Naira weakens as forex turnover falls by 88%
The opening indicative rate was N387.32 to a dollar on Wednesday.
Forex turnover fell by 88% on Wednesday at the I&E window weakening the exchange rate to N386.76/$1. The exchange rate at the black market however remained flat at N461/$1 for the third consecutive day this week.
NAFEX: The naira depreciated against the dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window on Wednesday, closing at N386.75 to a dollar, compared to the N386.50 that was reported on Tuesday, July 7, representing a 25 kobo drop. This is as traders continue to mull over CBN’s adjustment of the exchange rate at the SMIS window. The opening indicative rate was N387.32 to a dollar on Wednesday. This represents a 14 kobo drop when compared to the N387.18 to a dollar that was recorded on Tuesday.
Parallel Market: At the black market where forex is traded unofficially, the naira remained stable as it closed at N461 to a dollar on Wednesday which was the same rate that it exchanged on Tuesday.
Nigeria maintains multiple exchange rates comprising the CBN official rate, the BDC rates, SMIS and the NAFEX (I&E window). Nairametrics reported last week that the government has set plans in motion to unify the multiple exchange rates in line with requirements from the World Bank. Nigeria is seeking a world bank loan of up to $3 billion.
Meanwhile, forex turnover at the Investor and Exporters (I&E) window recorded a decline on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, as it dropped by 88.4% day on day, a huge decline from the figure that it achieved on Tuesday at the foreign exchange market. This is according to data from the FMDQOTC, an exchange where forex is traded by foreign investors and exporters.
According to the data tracked by Nairametrics, forex turnover decreased from $103.37 million on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, to $11.96 million on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, representing an 88.4% drop on a day-to-day basis. This is a reversal from the decent turnover that was recorded the previous day and is a far cry from the $200 million mark that was achieved in January and last week.
Nairametrics reported on Wednesday that the CBN official rate has been adjusted from N360 to a dollar to N381 to a dollar as reflected on the website of the FMDQ. However, the official rate quoted on the website of the CBN remains at N360/$1.
According to Reuters, “the naira eased 5.5% on the official market on Tuesday, after the central bank sold dollars to lenders at a lower rate, bowing to pressure from international lenders to unify its multiple exchange rates.” Reuters also reported “the naira eased to 380.50 in off-market trades, from 360.50 close on Monday” quoting sources from traders.
Nairametrics cannot confirm if the latest adjustment is reflective of the SMIS rates or if the central bank has now taken a bold step towards unification and adjusted its official rate. Reuters claims it’s a move to “unify the exchange rate”.
What this means: Unifying the Naira around the NAFEX rate is effectively another round of devaluation. If this is carried out and forex liquidity improves, then it could lead to an exchange rate strengthen in the parallel market just like it occurred in 2017.
The parallel market rate is currently N461/$1 and could converge to the NAFEX rate meaning those who bought above the NAFEX rate could lose money if they sell.