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Bank reform: Lamido proves critics wrong -by Emmanuel Ajibulu

Source: huhuonline.com

Contrary to widespread speculations of allege witch-hunting of prominent people from Southern region of Nigeria as a result of CBN's concerted efforts to sanitize/safe the Nigeria money market from irredeemable collapse and to rejuvenate depositors

and shareholders confidence in the system, the present twist has however set the record straight in the minds of teeming critics sequel to the steps taken by the apex bank.

In what people could describe as a black Wednesday (14th of October) for another set of recalcitrant debtors in Nigeria, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed the list of about 616 Nigerians and firms that are indebted to five banks in Nigeria namely, Unity Bank Plc, Equatorial Trust Bank, Wema Bank Plc, Spring Bank Plc, and Bank PHB to the tune of about N451 billion.

Top among the high-flying personalities who have reduced the banks to their present precarious conditions are, immediate past Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Anthony Anenih a strong power broker in PDP, Otunba Johnson Oyewole Fasawe, Chief Kola Daisi, Femi Otedola, Chief Cletus Ibeto, Culture and Tourism Minister Adetokunbo Kayode and ruling party chieftain, Nigeria's High Commissioner to South Africa, Brig Gen. Buba Marwa and Director, Stallion Group, Mr. Sunil Vaswani and Transnational Corporation as well as Mrs. Josephine Kuteyi among others. With this balanced measure of banking reform one would concur that the intention of CBN was for the general good of Nigerians and was not targeted at people from any geo-political zones of the federation so to say.

On Tuesday August 18th 2009, during the apex bank's first phase of its reforms/audit exercise it published the first list of those who are indebted to the five banks whose management was dissolved by the CBN. The banks are Union Bank, Oceanic Bank, FinBank, Intercontinental and Afribank.

The current revelation has it those non-performing loans for Wema Bank stood at N102 billion with a list of 81 debtors, while the list of Equatorial Trust Bank loans defaulters stood at about N46.2 billion with 45 debtors. The apex bank had restated its commitment to enthroning a sound banking system in the country. To achieve this, it had promised to take the same steps it earlier took in the case of the first set of five banks whose management it (CBN) earlier removed.

Former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is listed as an individual debtor to Spring Bank to the tune of N111,150,439.42; Otunba Oyewole Fasawe, is a director of three companies - Netlink Digital Television, Mofas Shipping Line Nigeria and Transvari Services Limited - which collectively owe over N9 billion; while Chief Tony Anenih and Osahon Asemota are listed as directors in Mettle Energy and Gas Limited that also owes Spring Bank over N2 billion. Several firms in which Chief Cletus Ibeto is listed as director, including Ibeto Cement Company Limited and Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Limited, also owe about N4 billion to Spring Bank. The National Sports Lottery Limited, which has Chief Kola Daisi as chairman, owes the same bank over N7 billion.

Adetokunbo Kayode, the current Minister of Culture and Tourism, is listed as an individual debtor of Bank PHB to the tune of N110 million. Conoil Plc, a firm known to be largely owned by businessman Otunba Mike Adenuga, with an authorized limit of N7.5 billion under Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB), had a balance as at June 30, 2009, of N19.866 billion. Adenuga is the only non-executive director of ETB removed in last week's last shake-up by the CBN at the bank. Another firm listed as BYSJ Project Account had an authorized limit of N5.7 billion, but a balance of N5.972 billion with the same bank.

Among visible names on the original publication that also appeared on yesterday's list are Peter Ololo, through the firm Petosan Oil and Gas Company Limited, which owes BankPHB N4.6 billion. Zenon Petroleum, which chairman is Femi Otedola, owes the bank over N5 billion. Also listed are three firms that have Arumemi Johnson, chairman of Arik Air as director. They are Ojemai Farms Limited, Ojemai Investment Company Limited and Rockson Engineering Limited and collectively owe BankPHB over N10 billion.

Among visible names on the original publication that also appeared on yesterday's list are Peter Ololo, through the firm Petosan Oil and Gas Company Limited, which owes BankPHB N4.6 billion. Zenon Petroleum, which chairman is Femi Otedola, owes the bank over N5 billion. Also listed are three firms that have Arumemi Johnson, chairman of Arik Air as director. They are Ojemai Farms Limited, Ojemai Investment Company Limited and Rockson Engineering Limited and collectively owe BankPHB over N10 billion.

However, the CBN has stated that Unity Bank Plc was exposed to non-performing loans to the tune of N36.6 billion by 120 firms and individuals. The CBN has equally assured that the same list would be forwarded to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) any time from today (October 15). The commission is expected on receipt of the list, to invite the affected individuals with a view to persuading them to settle their debts to the banks. One thing that is crucial regarding this trend of affairs in Nigerian banking sector and this bothers on what will be the take of the dreaded anti graft body the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over these list of powerful Nigeria whose debt statistics are tagged non-performing. Nigerians would have to keep their fingers crossed as event unfolds.

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