First Bank of Nigeria Limited on Friday kicked off activities marking its 125th anniversary with a flag hoisting ceremony, at its Marina head office.
Present at the occasion were the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, CBN Deputy Governor Fola Shonubi, former MDs of the Bank Joseph Sanusi, Moyo Ajekigbe and Bisi Onasanya, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange Oscar Onyema and several others.
Following the ceremony, the board of the bank alongside the Group Chairman Oba Otudeko held a press conference. Here are excerpts.
Impact of First Bank
Chairman of the larger group FBN Holdings, Oba Otudeko gave an overview of how First Bank had impacted the economy in several ways.
We have impacted the economy of Nigeria in a lot of ways. Many of our staff and associates have moved from our bank to serve Nigeria as ministers, permanent secretaries, and as advisers to government in a lot of ways.
What is most important today is our bank continues to be a symbol. A symbol of stability. A symbol of safety and indeed of excellence in the services we render. Even though we are an old institution, we are not old in our ways. Our technology and our quality of service underline inclusion which is a key policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Why First Bank has lasted for so long
Dr. Sola Adeduntan, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of First Bank also made mention of the factors that had kept the bank in existence for 125 years.
Today marks the commencement of the series of activities that mark the 125 years of the existence of First Bank. It has been 125 years of providing top class financial services to the country. It has been 125 years of supporting the government. It has been 125 years of providing real value to all our critical stakeholders.
First Bank, according to Adeduntan, is one of 5 firms in Africa that is over 100 years old.
The reason why we have usefully existed is our ability to reinvent ourselves. Ability to lead disruption, ability to part of disruption, and our ability to be ready to be disrupted.
Key role in the financial services space
Today in Nigeria, we are a very dominant player in the financial services space. We have the largest customer base. We have the largest ATM network. We decided to go into agency banking. Today has over 13,000 agents. Today we are the only institution that is located in the entire length and breadth of this country. We have representatives in the entire 774 local governments in the country.
Impact on society
Adeduntan also shed more light on how First Bank plays a key role in the Nigerian society.
We have over 20,000 employees. More than 17 million customer accounts. More than 2500 ATMs. We process more than 20% of the entire transactions that happen daily in the entire financial sector. This is the systemically important bank.
Chairperson of First Bank Ibukun Awosika stated that the organization had played a key role in supporting small businesses
If you are very conversant with developments in the economy, you would know that in the last three years we have been very aggressive in terms of helping to develop the life of entrepreneurs apart from funding.
We realize that money is part of the issue, money is not the only issue. While there is a lot of entrepreneurial knowledge, entre excitement and passion by Nigerians. There is a gap in entrepreneurial wealth.
What you need to grow the economy is scaleable entrepreneurship. So we pick companies that can employ 5/10/20 people and help them grow. We invest heavily in organizing programmes that help them with knowledge. We have some plans up or sleeves as part of our 125th anniversary that will add to that process.