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Diamond Bank Records Stable Growth in H1

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Diamond Bank Plc on Thursday released its H1 2016 performance scorecard on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), showcasing considerable growth in key financial parameters.

Analysts and industry watchers had, because of the harsh macroeconomic outlook, forecasted sluggish growth and greyed result for the period, but the interim report and accounts of the bank for the first six months of the year surpassed industry expectations as total comprehensive income rose by 13.3 per cent year on year to N16.3 billion as against N14.4 billion recorded in comparable period of 2015. Non-interest income surged by 33.4% to N26.5 billion, reflecting the successful efforts targeted at improving this income line and also the focused strategy of management, which were sharpened at improving digital functionality and widening financial inclusion.

Profit Before Tax (PBT) remained modest and stable at N10.5 billion while Profit After Tax (PAT) stood at N9.1 billion, thus meeting shareholders’ expectation for the period under review and showcasing the strategic strength of the management creatively configured to surmount the turbulent macroeconomic environment and the tough regulatory framework facing the financial services sub-sector.

The Bank improved on its credit creation by 28.6 per cent as loans and advances to customers grew from N763.6 billion in the same period last business year to N982.3 billion. Also, loans to other banks jumped by 30.7 per cent to N78.5 billion in H1 2016 from N60.1 billion in the corresponding period last year, while its retail customers grew to over 13 million with 7 million of these opening accounts in the last 2 years. Also, the Banks digital leadership in the financial services sub-sector gained ascendency as its Diamond Mobile Apps usage increased from 1.6 million to 5.1 million while volume increased from 1.3 billion to 5.5 billion year on year.

The Bank sustained a strong top line growth with the asset base surging to N1.970 trillion from N1.753 trillion in the same period last year, representing 12.4 per cent increase.

Commenting on the Bank’s H1 performance, Uzoma Dozie, Chief Executive Officer stated that despite the economic headwind, the Bank would remain resilient and sustain the positive growth throughout H2.

According to him, the Bank’s strong liquidity and capital adequacy ratios plus its digital transformation have rightly positioned it to meet customer obligations and offer service deliveries that are beyond banking.

He said: “With the domestic economy contracting, the Nigerian banking industry has faced a number of challenges over the last six months. Nevertheless, in the first half of 2016, we have remained resilient in weathering these headwinds and there are real bright spots in our income streams, as well as noteworthy cost reduction, which gives us confidence going into the second half of the year. Due to actions taken and an ongoing prudent approach, our regulatory capital remains strong. This position of strength helped offset the one-off impact of the recent devaluation of the naira, as acknowledged by Fitch Ratings when they affirmed our B rating with a stable outlook. Liquidity of the bank also remains high and is well above the guidance ratio stipulated by CBN.

Although year on year impairment charge grew by 45.6 per cent to N19.0 billion, reflecting the Bank’s continuation of prudent provisioning, which is aimed at strengthening performance in the years ahead; its operating costs and interest expense are shrunk by 10.7% and 27.5% respectively compared to H1 2015, reflecting success of the cost control initiative and low cost deposit strategy.

Speaking further, Dozie stated that despite the catalogue of challenges facing the sub-sector, which were exacerbated by the recent devaluation of the naira and foreign exchange scarcity, culminating in backlog of unpaid salaries and wages for individuals, Diamond Bank has continued a diligent implementation of its focus on curtailing cost. According to him, this has resulted in 10.7% reduction in operating expenses and 3.8% drop in employee benefit expenses for the period under review. The Bank also integrated further its retail offering and the supporting infrastructure with the opportunities created by its value chain marketing approach in the corporate and business banking segments.

“In the last few months, evidence has shown that the new strategy and initiatives to curtail costs are proving successful and are reflected in the bank’s financial indicators. This is reassuring. Year on year, costs came in lower and as we conclude the organizational restructure, we expect to harvest more savings from operational and employee expenses. The primary benefits of this however are the resources that we have freed up to provide improved services to customers. Having done this, we are optimistic that the Bank is in the right markets and has the wherewithal to excel and create value for shareholders in the long run,” stated Dozie.

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Abuja Aglow As World Presidents, Dignitaries, Celebrities Set For Africa’s Biggest Event #TheUBAMarketPlace2019

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Pan African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc is set to host over 20,000 visitors, 100 small and medium enterprises and leading private and public sector players from across Africa, at the continent’s biggest entrepreneurial fair tagged #theUBAmarketplace2019 in Abuja, Nigeria.

The event, which will be held on July 26th and 27th 2019, on the sideline of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum, the largest gathering of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Africa, will host businesses and business owners in various industries including food, fashion, beauty, home/interior, and gadgets.

The epic event will offer plenary sessions and discussions on the small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) sector and the relevance of financing. The plenary sessions will highlight the entertainment and music industries. Likewise, fashion, a big cultural and revenue attraction on the continent, will be showcased with the designs of 10 leading African labels.

At the master-class sessions to be held during the UBAmarketplace2019, small and medium scale businesses will have the opportunity to network and get solutions to some of the challenges they face in running their businesses. Also, entrepreneurs who are beneficiaries of the Tony Elumelu Foundation will be presented a platform to pitch their businesses with a grand prize of a grant, courtesy of UBA.

The Group Managing Director, Kennedy Uzoka, speaking about the event, stated “UBA has always been at the forefront of entrepreneurship across Africa, undertaking many projects aimed at contributing to supporting Africa’s growth and economic integration. The birth of the UBAmarketplace and this entrepreneurial fair is a testament to our commitment to African SMEs”

Uzoka added that with the fair, UBA seeks to touch base with small business owners while positively affecting the lives of entrepreneurs doing business in its countries of operations and beyond’.

“I think everyone realizes the fact that we need to prioritize the private sector. We need to encourage entrepreneurship and youths. This is the driving factor and the major reason why we are organizing an event of this magnitude’ he said.

UBA’s REDTV will light up the Redzone at the UBA marketplace with entertainment featuring Africa’s star boy Wiz kid; DJ Cuppy and many more.

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Access Bank UK Balance Sheet Up 36% As Polo Day Pledges N350m For Children In Education

Gbemileke Ajayi

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The Access Bank UK used its’ annual Access Bank Polo Day at Guards Polo Club Windsor on Saturday 13 July to post results showing another year of outstanding international business growth.

2018 was the year that it joined the three key UK clearing systems, and collected the best African Trade Finance Bank Awards from both International Finance and CFI.

All four strategic business units returned double-digit growth and in only its second year of operations, the importance of its investment in Dubai was demonstrated by a 200 percent increase in income. For the eleventh year running it was able to report having no ‘non-performing loans.’

With Corporate Responsibility and exemplary Corporate Governance playing a key role in the growth of the Bank, the Polo day is the culmination of a yearlong programme, with part of its fundraising in partnership with UNICEF for education projects in northern Nigeria in particular.

A total of N350 Million was pledged during the day to build and equip 70 new classrooms, for children’s education in Northern Nigeria. Since the UNICEF/Access Bank initiative was started in 2005 it has built schools in Kaduna and, kept more than 8,000 students in continuous education.

At the same time, new school blocks and a computer literacy building all in a more secure and friendly school environment have been developed. The communities surrounding the schools are being supported with bore-holes for water, and sewing and grinding machines to secure employment and stimulate economic and social development.

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai is committed to matching the building programme which will see another 70 classrooms built in the coming year and another 2500 children in education.

The annual event is the climax to the high-profile Access Bank/UNICEF Charity Shield Polo tournament, and celebrates reaching out to and highlighting the plight of vulnerable children and orphans and internally displaced persons. In partnership with 5thChukker and based in Kaduna, Nigeria, the tournament is the biggest charity polo tournament in Africa and generates funds and stimulates support for the work of the UNICEF/Access Bank initiative across Africa.

According to the Managing Director, Access Bank UK, Jamie Simmonds “we are a bank where our growth has been fueled by the strength of customer relationships. It enables us to develop innovative products and financial solutions with rather than just for our customers.

“Becoming a UK clearer is a major landmark for us and differentiates us from many of our competitors in the market place. We also manage our retail deposit offering in-house for greater control with both initiatives forming part of our strategy to future proof the bank” “

We have offices here in the heart of the City of London, Dubai and Lagos and are building our presence in China through a representative office there.” “We invest significantly in attracting, retaining and developing professional staff in order to ensure customers always deal with an expert who is familiar with their business and personal financial needs.

Herbert Wigwe, Chairman of The Access Bank UK Ltd, says “the successes in completing the first decade of trading for ACCESS Bank UK has been a major milestone. Growth has been sustained at the same time as earning a reputation for innovation and flexibility”

“Together our continuing support for the Fifth Chukker -UNICEF initiative is predicated on our view of our role as a change agent in Nigeria and Africa that can help institute socio-economic development through responsible business practice, social initiatives and environmental consideration.”

Wigwe added “we continue to look for ways through which more resources can be pooled towards supporting the children. We are part of the community and as such should support its wellbeing.”

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Apostle Suleman, His Views And The Nigerian Challenge

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A frequently raised objection against Christian engagement with politics is that anything besides explicit preaching and teaching of the Bible is a distraction from the mission of the church. But, to a clerical intellect like Apostle Johnson Suleman, this is a limited understanding of the kingdom of God and contrary to examples in Scripture.

Thus far, the Edo State, Nigerian born pastor’s innovative and sustained contributions at the societal level, suggests the Christian worldview provides a comprehensive understanding of reality, as he grasps at every opportunity available to speak to all areas of life, including political engagement. Of course, he is not drifted, for the Bible speaks about civil government and provides examples of faithful engagement.

Between when he held the last two day ‘Open Heavens’ crusade in Dublin Ireland on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th of July, 2019, Suleman aired his views on vital national issues, underlining reasons Christians have a duty to care about politics, in particular.

It is relevant to note that Apostle Suleman is not just a preaching pastor; he is also a working pastor. He is an entrepreneur, an owner of high-potential businesses that provide jobs and contribute to economic growth. Outside the church podium, Suleman runs vast business enterprises in real estate, oil, and gas, banking, media, mining, hospitality. This places him in good stead to speak on politics and policies of government because he is in the league of people, the entrepreneurs, who make creative leaps to help the government solve problems, unemployment being a major one.

Suleman, who is the president of the Omega Fire Ministries (OFM) worldwide, recently on his social media handles, did speak on a number of issues affecting the polity. Though his views are focused primarily on security, they are holistic messages with implications for all areas of life, including how Christians engage the political process.

Apostle Suleman shared deep thoughts on the government-initiated but suspended Rural Gracing Area (RUGA) initiative, the attacks by herdsmen on communities outside their geographical regions, the reported Islamization agenda by the government of the day, the high taxation narrative, and more. The servant of God stressed an instance when his church suffered victim of the herdsmen’s impunity. He told how his church headquarters in Auchi was invaded by four wandering Fulani herders who were arrested by church members but were reportedly made to escape from the police custody the next day.

Government derives its authority from God, to promote good and restrain evil. This mandate is expressly stated in the Holy Book, Romans 13:1-7. In Apostle Suleman’s words, good government encourages an environment conducive for people living peaceably, whereas bad government fosters unrest and instability.

As he moves the next two-day ‘Open Heavens’ conference to London on Tuesday, July 30, 2019, the firebrand minister of God maintains that Christian leaders must be resolute against the political challenge in Nigeria and elsewhere, as withdrawal opens a moral vacuum liable to influence political leaders to move outside the scope of righteous governing assigned to them. Therefore, because of what the Bible teaches and the inevitability of its effect on people’s beliefs, Christians must care about politics.

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