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FITC/NIBSS Cybersecurity conference: The need for a robust cybersecurity strategy

Data protection is key as there are over seven billion internet connected devices in the world.



Stakeholders have underscored the need for a Robust Cyber Security strategy and Risk Management Financial Services Growth Cybersecurity risks, as e-fraud have continued to ravage global economies and businesses, with emerging market worst hit due to weak corporate governance and processes.

To get more businesses and financial institutions to know more about the rising trend and ways to curb it, FITC/Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), held a Virtual ThinkNnovation Cybersecurity Conference where stakeholders shared knowledge and insights on curbing the increase in cybercrime.

The conference drew industry experts and thought leaders in Cybersecurity, Technology and Financial services and regulators within and outside Nigeria to discuss avenues where the Nigeria Financial Services Sector can upscale its capacity to tackle emerging challenges in the Nigerian and African cybercrime space.

With the global digitization and shift towards a more connected tomorrow, cyberattacks and risks stemming from these innovations have increased in frequency and impact. The advent of telework arrangements necessitated by the COVID pandemic has seen cybersecurity risks rise significantly with current defences being challenged and weaknesses being exposed.

Combined with the expanding threat landscape, organizations are seeing a steady rise in the number of security breaches, with many organisations experiencing stealthy, sophisticated, and targeted cyberattacks. The gap between cybersecurity risk and defensive effectiveness is now as wide as it has ever been for most companies.


As the number of cyberattacks increase, and take more time to resolve, the cost of cybercrime continues to rise. Organisations are now faced with an evolving and fluid threat landscape with cross jurisdictional actor parties that target every vulnerability.

FITC, Nigeria’s leading knowledge curating and performance improvement firm for the financial sector, in its zeal to bridge the gap between cybersecurity threats and defences, while demonstrating its technology-driven and innovation-led approach to value creation, collaborated with Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) to bring to stakeholders Africa’s largest virtual cybersecurity conference.

The event attracted experts from across different sectors of the economy including Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Deputy Governor Financial System Stability, Ms. Aishah Ahmad CFA, Deputy Managing Director, NIBSS, Niyi Ajao, Chief Information Security Officer at FirstBank, Harrison Nnaji, Dr. Obadare Adewale Peter, Co-Founder and COO, Digital Encode, Chief Information Security Officer, Zenith Bank Plc, Festus Amede, NIBSS, Chief Information Officer at NIBSS, Wunmi Faiga, the Security and Compliance Specialist at Microsoft, Somi Ochuba and Wema Bank CEO, Ademola Adebise, among others.

(READ MORE:FITC/NIBSS to host largest financial services sector cybersecurity conference in Africa)

The conference was attended by over 1000 delegates across five continents, 30 countries and 300 organizations. The conference’s virtual platform using AI technology mimicked and, in some cases, enhanced the experience beyond that of a physical conference.


Some of the major topics discussed include – Cybersecurity and Digital Transformation: Challenges for Emerging Markets; Cybersecurity and IT Infrastructure Protection; Cybersecurity and Financial Services: Imperatives, Risks and Control; Building Cybersecurity for Financial Services Growth; among others.

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In her opening remarks, Managing Director /Chief Executive Officer FITC, Ms. Chizor Malize, said the programme is for collection and documentation of new knowledge in the areas of cyber security and finding new ways of tackling the menace.

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According to her, FITC as an organization driven by technology and innovation is delighted to have organized the largest of such engagement on cybersecurity in Africa. She said,
“For over 15 years, FITC has published survey findings on Fraud and Forgeries cases in the Banking Industry, insights from this quarterly publication highlights the issue of cybercrime and the imperatives for players in the industry to build cybercrime fighting capacity relevant for today’s sophisticated digital world.

“Some of the increasing risks and threats facing organizations emanate from social engineering, ransomware, and security risks from IoT which necessitates integration and interoperability of devices. It also includes cloud misconfiguration and, in some cases, general data protection regulations and compliance that further exposes organizations with global operations. The COVID-19 pandemic also further exacerbated the level of cyber attacks in 2020.’’

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According to her, organized crime groups have shown themselves more ruthless and entrepreneurial, repurposing phishing, attacking infrastructures, and building fake websites with recorded increase in scam.

Also speaking, CBN Deputy Governor Financial System Stability, Ms. Aishah Ahmad CFA, said the financial services sector is particularly susceptible to cybercrime given its crucial role of financial intermediation in a highly connected financial system.

Aside significant financial losses, the sector is also exposed to potential compromise and loss of customer data, and disruption of operations, which undermine stakeholders’ confidence in financial system stability. She said,

“The challenge of banking product security and abuse is impacting the adoption of products. If people find out that digital channels are getting more secured and that there are opportunities they can leverage when they have challenges, there are more chances that they will embrace the channels.

“As the world switched to social distancing and remote working, remote learning, remote shopping and electronic financial transactions, due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, more opportunities have opened for cyber criminals to prey on unsuspecting citizens and businesses.’’

(READ MORE:Nairametrics announces Strategic Data Partnership with Statista)


Speaking further, Ahmad said the CBN is committed to strengthening its regulatory and supervisory framework to boost the resilience of the financial system against cybercrime.

“It is gratifying to note that most Nigerian banks have in place Security Operation Centers (SOCs) in line with global best practices, others have been encouraged to follow suit, whilst the CBN has also commenced the development of an industry wide SOC – CBN Cybersecurity Fusion Centre (C2FC) – to serve as a shared service platform for the Financial Sector providing cyber intelligence gathering, analysis, dissemination and crisis response,” she added.

Deputy Managing Director at NIBSS, Niyi Ajao, said the programme is crucial for the industry, as a way to guide industry wide cybersecurity development. He said,

“We will continue to educate and inform stakeholders about cyber fraud threats to protect the system. We will keep partnering with stakeholders to share experience, and the participants to put what they learnt in practice to bring benefits to the industry and their companies.”

Ajao spoke on the theme: Cybersecurity and Financial Services: Imperatives, Risks and Controls. He stated that e-fraud is increasing due to increase in financial inclusion and e-payment adoption. He also added that from basic technology to AI, tools are readily available to rogue players who are after unauthorized access to data.

In his Keynote address, Senior Director, Supervisory Guidance, Toronto Centre, Phang Hong Lim, shared proven roadmaps to a more cyber resilient financial sector. He emphasized the imperatives for banks to develop an effective control and response framework for cyber risk including the implementation of general sound risk management practices to provide baseline cyber hygiene.

(READ MORE:Active bank accounts in Nigeria surge to 111.5 million as COVID-19 drives account opening)

Wema Bank CEO, Ademola Adebise, who was one of the speakers at the second plenary, shared that the bank started ALAT in 2017 and had known that cyber threats will occur. The bank, he added engaged a Chief Information Security Officer and took governance issues seriously ensuring that the CIO reports to the MD and risk management committee presents regular report to the board.

The Chief Information Officer at NIBSS, Wunmi Faiga, who was one of the speakers at the third plenary, advised that people should be risk aware. The risk segment of the organisations should pay attention to the insider threats adding that some of the crimes are aided and abated by internal stakeholders. She said that controls should be extended to homes as people have started working from home.

On third party risk, she said that it is a cashless world, and there’s demand for quick realtime services and that third party risk assessment is very critical for NIBSS, adding that all third parties connected to organizations should have the right governance.

Also speaking, Chief Information Security Officer at FirstBank, Harrison Nnaji, shared that very importantly too, financial service providers need to build confidence in the digital products they offer. They need to make sure the products they put up are well secured.

Co-Founder and the Chief Operating Officer of Digital Encode Limited, Obadare Adewale Peter brilliantly shared that there is nothing like 100 per cent cybersecurity because any system can be digitally invaded. “You need to be able to take charge of architecture, design, implementation and operation of your security to be able to secure your systems. In building cyber security, a company’s chief information officer (CISO) needs to look beyond technology, and strike balance between the people, process, and technology. As a CISO, one needs leadership, material, and financial skills to build stable and robust technology. The CISO is expected to be dealing with a lot of stakeholders in the company and needs to be versatile,” he said.

(READ MORE:Quick Take: SWOT analysis of Nigeria’s financial sector according to Fitch Solutions)

Chief Information Security Officer, Zenith Bank Plc, Festus Amede, said that rapid adoption of technology without adequate defence mechanism and pressure on financial institutions to keep costs low remains a major challenge facing the adoption and deployment of digital products.
“Most emerging markets have their data centre in-house, only very few are in the cloud. Even though cloud is where to be, you need to prepare before migrating to the cloud. Account hijacking is also a major concern, especially with people using unsecured channels because of the challenges to grow the numbers. Using channels like USSD exposes bank customers a lot, as their SIM cards can be swapped, or your PIN harvested through phishing among other means,” he said.

Security and Compliance Specialist at Microsoft, Somi Ochuba, explained that as businesses embrace digital transformation, and compete with companies trying to develop their own technology, they would need to develop new digital capabilities using data and information. Data and information are the lifeblood of organizations, but they also attract criminal activities.

According to her, Data protection is key as there are over seven billion internet connected devices in the world, excluding laptops and devices, which are sources of vulnerabilities.

According to Ruth Didam of Bank of Agriculture, the conference was one of her best virtual event experiences. “The cyber security conference was so super amazing, insightful, and revealing. FITC was able to take virtual learning to another amazing level. Looking forward to the 2021 conference.”

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Otunba Subomi Balogun officially hands over Otunba Tunwase National Paediatrics Centre to UI and UCH

Otunba Olasubomi Balogun has formally handed over his Otunba Tunwase National Paediatrics Centre to the University of Ibadan and the UCH.



The Founder of FCMB Group and notable philanthropist, Otunba Olasubomi Balogun (CON), has formally handed over his Otunba Tunwase National Paediatrics Centre (OTNPC), located at Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, to the management of the University of Ibadan and the University College Hospital (UCH). The gesture is part of his conscious efforts towards ensuring that Nigerians, especially children, have access to world-class healthcare facilities and specialised treatment services. The cost of the hospital is estimated at over N5 billion.

The transfer of the hospital to UI and UCH was preceded by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which clearly states how the Centre is to be managed by the parties, on October 1, 2020, in Lagos.

The formal hand over ceremony, which took place on January 19, 2021, in the premises of the hospital, was attended by the Group Chief Executive, FCMB Group and Board Chairman, Otunba Tunwase Foundation, Mr. Ladi Balogun; the Group Head, Corporate Affairs of FCMB, Mr. Diran Olojo; the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Professor Adebola Ekanola, (who was unavoidably absent), was represented by the Provost of the College of Medicine, Professor Yinka Omigbodun; the Management of University College Hospital, led by its Chief Medical Director, Professor Abiodun Otegbayo; the Interim Transition Management Committee of OTNPC led by the Chairman, Dr. Adeyinka Hassan, as well as other eminent personalities.

In his address, the Group Chief Executive, FCMB Group, Mr. Ladi Balogun, who represented the Founder of FCMB Group, Otunba Olasubomi Balogun, gave an insight to what inspired the business mogul to take up the extraordinary philanthropic project almost 11 years ago.

He recalled that “the inspiration by Otunba Olasubomi Balogun to build this great establishment started when he took over the children’s hospital at the UCH Ibadan, where he was exposed to the true plight of sick children and the high demand for world-class facilities to cater for their needs in a sustainable manner. An interaction with the then Minister of Health, late Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, further propelled Otunba Balogun to do more in terms of the provision of world-class medical facilities. The exposure and interaction later became the brainchild of this N5 billion establishment, credited as a prototype of the Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, United Kimgdom.”


Speaking on the Banking icon’s decision to hand over the control and management of the Centre to UI and UCH, Mr. Balogun disclosed that, “at the end of its construction, some institutions requested to manage the hospital, but Otunba Balogun strongly believes that the University of Ibadan and University College Hospital are in a better position to do that effectively and further raise its status, considering their respective pedigrees.”

He further explained that “following the signing of the MoU last year by all the concerned parties, the resolution is that while the University College Hospital has been mandated to provide clinical services, the University of Ibadan will engage in research and other academic works, while students from UI would also be involved as part of the training”.

Appreciating the gesture, the Chief Medical Director, UCH Ibadan, Professor Otegbayo, said that it is an indisputable fact that the health and welfare of society are critical to the development of any community.

According to him, “We at the UCH are grateful for this opportunity to contribute to the well-being of residents in Ijebu community, Ogun State and Nigeria at large. We promise that as soon as all the legal nuances are sorted out, we shall fully move in and continue with what UCH is known for; unequalled provision of health care services, research and training.”

Commenting further on Otunba Balogun’s continuous generosity, he stressed that, “the UCH is not just witnessing the generosity and benevolence of Otunba Balogun now. Many years ago, he endowed the Otunba Tunwase Children Emergency Ward in UCH and he has been funding the Ward since then. A lot of children have been saved there, while training and research in Paediatrics have been going on unhindered.”

In her remarks, the Provost, College of Medicine, Professor Omigbodun, expressed delight at the official hand over of the hospital to both the university and UCH. She lauded Otunba Balogun for handing over the management of the hospital to the institutions.

According to her, “We are extremely grateful to Otunba Subomi Balogun for this generous contribution to the medical sector. This Centre would certainly contribute immensely to the training and research activities carried out by our academics. It is our hope that other Nigerians who have achieved greatness in their various fields would emulate him.”

Otunba Subomi Balogun is a well-known statesman, entrepreneur and philanthropist with several charitable projects and programmes for the people of his hometown of Ijebu-Ode, as well as many other parts of Nigeria. His philanthropy ranges from the provision of this world-class medical facility to education, capacity building, youth empowerment and other socio-economic initiatives, aimed at enhancing the development of humanity and society in general.

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FITC wins BIZZ, IBX Global Awards for Business Excellence, Strategic Leadership

FITC was announced the winner of the two global awards in an elaborate virtual ceremony held in Doha, Qatar and Houston Texas respectively.



Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC)

FITC, the world-class, innovation-led, technology-driven, knowledge and professional services institute has emerged winner of the 2020 Business Excellence Award (The BIZZ Awards) and the Strategy, Change, and Transformation Award (The IBX Awards).

FITC, which provides cutting edge Learning, Advisory and Research Services to organizations within the Financial Services and other sectors, was announced winner of the two global awards in an elaborate virtual ceremony held in Doha, Qatar and Houston Texas respectively.

The Nigeria’s premier knowledge institute, FITC, won the Gold category in The BIZZ awards and Silver category in Strategy, Change and Transformation in the International Business Excellence, IBX Awards in recognition of its phenomenal initiatives that have led to innovative and exceptional transformation within the organization.

Also presented with an award was the Managing Director and CEO, FITC, Chizor Malize, who won the IBX 2020 Award for “Inspirational Leader”. The award was in recognition of the innovative, dynamic and game changing work at FITC in 2020 at the height of the global pandemic resulting in the extraordinary organization wide transformation at FITC and positive impact on the Nigerian financial services sector, FITC’s primary focus area.

Other IBX 2020 Award winners include Microsoft and Virgin Mobile.


The International Business Excellence (IBX) Awards is part of a global business movement, giving organizations the chance to meet and compete with others from all over the world. Over the last twelve years, IBX Awards have been leading the way in recognising inspirational business practices, holding over 100 events and hosting more than 2000 companies.

Organized by Awards International, the IBX Awards recognises long-term sustainable profitability achieved through the practice of excellence, which occurs across a broad range of disciplines and defines the modern business agenda.

The BIZZ Awards gathers and recognizes leading businesses from different regions that contribute to the daily growth of their local economy and the world economy. THE BIZZ was created by World Confederation of Businesses (WORLDCOB), to offer to the global business community a range of benefits that further their development.

WORLDCOB was founded in 2004 in Houston, Texas, in the United States of America. Its primary mission is to promote business development worldwide, recognizing and boosting the growth of leading businesses and businesspeople in every country through the special tools and services that it offers its members. The organization has approximately 3,500 members representing over 130 countries.

Considered to be the most important business excellence award in the world, The BIZZ Awards is organized and given out to the most outstanding companies and businesspeople in each participating country. The award which targets small, medium and large enterprises was created to recognize businesses with practices worthy of recognition who end up being examples for other businesses to follow in their communities and internationally.

Speaking on the awards, Malize, said the organization would keep going beyond the ordinary in its effort to delivering innovative knowledge solutions to its clients in the Financial Services and other sectors.

“For 40 years, FITC has been an innovator, enabling people and organizations to excel and it was in line with our vision to build a world class innovation-led and technology-driven organization that we defined our six success pillars which are programmes, process, platforms, people, positioning and performance.

“We took deliberate and strategic steps by making significant changes across these key drivers of the positive transformation experienced today by our stakeholders, and which has also culminated to these awards and recognitions being given to our organization today. We are extremely delighted by these awards and we remain committed to helping our clients in the Financial Services and other sectors navigate and advance their careers, while building on our member firms’ successes through our clear vision, strong corporate values, and our culture of excellence,” Malize said.

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Established in 1981 as a non-profit organisation limited by guarantee to provide capacity building and serve as a knowledge hub for the Nigerian Financial Services Sector, FITC is owned by the Bankers Committee, Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and all deposit money banks in Nigeria.

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Over the years, FITC has demonstrated delivery of best-in-class services using a large pool of multidisciplinary and versatile professionals, who provide business support to its numerous clients within the public and private sectors, most notably within the financial services sectors and public sector of Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Sahara Group celebrates 25 years of global expansion, operational efficiency

Sahara plans to mark its 25th anniversary with several events and activities all through 2021 with the theme, “Harnessing Safe energy today.”



Executive Director, Sahara Group, Temitope Shonubi has said the energy conglomerate’s impressive growth trajectory since 1996 has been driven by knowledge, business integrity, humility, diverse people and robust global network.

“These past 25 years, knowledge has been the empowering tool for Sahara, business integrity our greatest asset, humility our utmost ethos, diverse people and network our greatest value,” he asserted while unveiling Sahara’s 25th anniversary logo and the Group’s plan for the future.

Shonubi said Sahara had since disrupted previously held notions that put looking to Africa for the implementation of global energy solutions beyond imagination. According to him, since its inception, Sahara has deployed “transformational energy initiatives” to become a conglomerate with a proud African heritage and vast operations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Middle East Asia.

“Today, the narrative is rapidly changing with Sahara at the vanguard of the transformational story from Africa to the world. Founded in 1996 with an initial focus on Oil trading, Sahara Group is widely regarded as a leading energy conglomerate renowned for championing capacity building and promoting the ‘best in Africa for Africa’ to the world narrative globally,” he affirmed.


Shonubi said Sahara would increase its investment in technology, artificial intelligence, and human capital transformation as critical drivers of its next expansion phase, adding that innovation will define Sahara’s brand positioning and offering In the coming years.

“For us at Sahara, it has been 25 years of instituting a stamp of distinction. Like most start-ups, we were chasers then followers, and today are the dream actualized corporation. It is much more expensive and difficult to be a trailblazer, defying the impossible to emerge as an enterprise that creates value innovatively, responsibly, and sustainably. Still, at Sahara we are focused on remarkable growth and grateful for the opportunity to serve and bring energy to life across global markets.”

Sahara plans to mark its 25th anniversary with several events and activities all through 2021 with the theme, “Harnessing Safe energy today.” Emphasis will be on promoting the “capacity to do and achieve positive and sustainable transformation” in the energy sector.

An analysis of Sahara’s operational model shows that creating a sustainable economic, social, and governance impact has remained central to Sahara’s corporate strategy. The conglomerate has grown its operations to achieve annual revenues in excess of $10 billion, with over 4000 employees and operations in over 40 countries. “Sahara’s focus is on continuous improvement, operational efficiency, and sustainability. We plan to deploy best-in-class Terminal Automation System (TAS) for efficient terminal operations in the oil & gas sector, Plant Data Visualization System (PDVS) for enhanced remote monitoring of plant operations, Customer Energy Management (CEM), and GIS-based Network Monitoring System (GNMS) for customer-centric power distribution & data management services,” said Shonubi.

The Group considers the activities of the Sahara Foundation as one of its most cherished accomplishments. Following its initial partnership with the Carter Centre to eradicate guinea worm disease in Nigeria, Sahara Foundation has over the years, emerged as a global promoter of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with over 2,000,000 (two million) beneficiaries across its locations through interventions in Health, Education, Capacity Building, and lately, Extrapreneurship – a concept that promotes opportunities for social innovators and entrepreneurs.

In 2015, the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), through the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F) established the Private Sector Advisory Group (PSAG) as a pivotal platform for business leaders opportunity to contribute to extraordinary social impact and cultivate partnerships of tremendous transformative capacity. From an initial list of 100 shortlisted global multinational companies, the United Nations SDG-F selected 13 companies and inaugurated them in Madrid. Within the African continent, Sahara Group was one of the only two companies that made the final selection.

In line with its commitment to supporting growing global demand for safe and clean energy and the shift towards a lower carbon footprint, Sahara and the UNDP in 2019 entered into a partnership to promote access to clean and affordable energy in Africa, with a target of providing access to clean and affordable energy to over 650 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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“Sahara Group remains passionate about green energy and environmental conservation. Our Green Life project, aimed at driving energy and ecological conservation initiatives across our business operations and partnerships, saw the Group pioneer the commencement of an electronic billing system (e-billing) at Ikeja Electric Plc, the Group’s power distribution arm to promote environmental conservation in the energy sector,” Shonubi said.

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To reinforce its commitment to clean energy initiatives, Sahara Group also initiated the use of electric buggies and bicycles at its Egbin Power, Africa’s largest privately-owned Power Plant, with plans to replicate same at other operational facilities across the Group.

Shonubi said Sahara’s zero-waste approach to promoting operational efficiency and commitment to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has seen Egbin Power Plc invest in an oxygen bottling facility on the plant to harness the oxygen generated as a by-product of the plant cooling mechanism. Egbin Power supplies oxygen, a key ingredient in the fight for life in the ICU, freely to medical facilities in Lagos State and the FCT, Abuja Nigeria, through Fortitude Children’s home, the largest orphanage in Nigeria.

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Sahara’s Covid-19 interventions also include donation of personal protective equipment (PPE), driving Covid-19 awareness and education in sub-Saharan Africa through educational literature in indigenous languages across various countries and leading the delivery of the 300-bed Thisday Dome Isolation and Treatment Centre and donation of medical equipment, including fully equipped world-class Intensive Care Units, to the centre and other medical facilities across Nigeria.

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