Court Sentences Bobrisky To Six Months In Prison

The Federal High Court in Lagos, on Friday, sentenced controversial crossdresser, Idris Olarewaju Okuneye, popularly known as Bobrisky, to six months imprisonment without the option of a fine for abusing the naira.

Justice Abimbola Awogboro, while sentencing the convict, said the judgment would be a deterrent to others who are found abusing and mutilating the naira.

Before the sentence, the judge asked about his sex, and he quickly replied that he was a man.

The judge ruled that the jail term commenced on March 24, 2024, the day of his arrest.

It would be recalled that the court had, on April 5, convicted him after he pleaded guilty to the charge of abusing the naira filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The judge therefore postponed the sentencing to Tuesday, April 9, 2024. However, the day was declared a public holiday by the Federal Government for the Eid-el-Fitr celebration.

Bobrisky had last Friday, after his conviction, pleaded with the court to give him a lesser punishment as he was not aware of the law of abusing the naira.

In his allocutus, Bobrisky begged the court that he was not aware of the law of abusing the naira.

He said that he is a social media influencer with over five million followers.

The judge then told him that ignorance of the law was not an excuse.

He said, “I know, My Lord. My Lord, I wish that you could give me a second chance to use my platform to inform and educate my followers about spraying money.

“I would do a video on my page and I would educate people about spraying money.

“I will not repeat it, My Lord. I regret my actions, My Lord.”

OPINION: OJ Simpson Died The Comfortable Death In Old Age That Nicole Brown Should Have Had

By Moira Donegan

OJ Simpson is dead, and Nicole Brown should still be alive. Simpson, the longtime batterer and stalker of Nicole Brown Simpson, and the man who all but confessed to her gruesome stabbing murder in June of 1994, died on Wednesday of cancer. He died at his home in Las Vegas, “surrounded by his children and grandchildren”, according to a statement issued by his family. He was 76.

Simpson died in bed, receiving medical care to make him comfortable, at the end of his natural life. He had reached old age; we can infer that when he took his last breaths, he was surrounded by well wishes and love. His was a very different death from the one he allegedly inflicted on his former wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend Ron Goldman. They did not die in bed; they probably died screaming. And for Nicole, at least, her death was the culmination of a years-long campaign of terrorism that OJ had waged against her since they met; it was the moment their whole relationship had been leading to.

Five days before she was murdered, Nicole called a domestic violence shelter to ask what it would take for her to disappear to someplace where OJ couldn’t find her. By then, she had long been keeping evidence of his abuse, including photographs of her injuries and letters from him confessing to beating her, in a safe-deposit box at a bank.

The marriage had been violent from the start, including regular beatings by OJ, screaming scenes, at least one incident in which he locked Nicole in their wine cellar for hours, and another in which he took a sledgehammer to her car. It was the kind of abusive marriage that makes people ask: “Why didn’t she leave?” In fact, she did. At the time she was killed, Nicole was living on her own at her home in Los Angeles; she had divorced OJ more than two years previously.

But leaving the marriage had not ended OJ’s abuse. He continued to stalk her, extending the control and violence he had inflicted during their marriage and making it clear that she would never be able to live beyond them. “I’m scared,” Nicole told her mother months before she was killed. “I go to the gas station, he’s there. I go to the Payless shoe store, and he’s there. I’m driving, and he’s behind me.”

Domestic violence situations often get euphemized as “relationship conflicts”, or “tempestuous”, “intense” love affairs. What they really are are horror movies, arrangements in which one person, usually a woman, finds her life narrowed, her actions surveilled, her freedoms constrained and her body abused, violated and hurt. But perhaps the greatest terror of domestic abuse is how the world conspires to look away.

Cops were called to the Simpson’s house no fewer than nine times; it is likely that Nicole endured many more beatings than that without ever calling the police. But the officers were deferential to OJ, accepting his version of events. They were more impressed by his status as a celebrity former athlete than interested in what he was doing to his wife. Nicole’s friends reportedly often encouraged her to get back together with OJ. Her parents liked him, too, and apparently regretted the divorce, even though they were aware that Simpson was beating their daughter. (He had set Nicole’s father up with a Hertz dealership.)

In the weeks before her death, she told many people that she was afraid that OJ would kill her and get away with it. But these words of Nicole’s were not admitted as evidence at OJ’s subsequent criminal trial. The judge, Lance Ito, deemed them “hearsay”, noting that Nicole could not be cross-examined by OJ’s lawyers, because she was dead. OJ was acquitted of the murders in 1995.

In the years that followed his acquittal, OJ did little to counter the dramatic evidence that was presented against him at trial. At times, in his subsequent public appearances, he seemed to be winkingly alluding to having got away with murder. In 2006, he announced a book, If I Did It, that purported to tell the truth of the murders, flimsily framed as a hypothetical. Fox agreed to a televised interview with Simpson about the murders. But the project was scrapped after Ron Goldman’s surviving family filed a lawsuit.

Soon after, in 2007, Simpson was caught robbing a Las Vegas hotel room in a heist to steal sports memorabilia. He never served a day in prison for the murder of Nicole. But for that property crime, he served almost nine years.

Nicole Brown had just turned 18, and was working as a waitress in Los Angeles, when she met the man whose violence would define the rest of her short life. She reportedly did not know at the time that the man who was courting her was a famous NFL star. She stopped working and moved into an apartment that OJ paid for almost immediately; the violence started almost immediately, too. One of the first times OJ hit her, he apologized by buying her a Porsche. After another time, he asked her to marry him. She said yes.

Abuse is like this: its contradictions and reversals, the batterer’s promises that he will change matched only by the victim’s desperate, delusional wish to believe him. But domestic violence is like cancer: without intervention, it will march inevitably towards death. Nicole begged for help: from police, from her friends, from family and ultimately from a domestic violence shelter. No one was able to help her, because no one was willing to stand between her and OJ. No one was willing to act like her life was more important than his celebrity.

Nicole died just a few weeks past her 35th birthday. When her body was found, she had been stabbed seven times in the neck and head, and had sustained a six-inch gash across her neck that nearly decapitated her. A coroner found that she also had defensive wounds on her hands. No one had been willing to defend her while she was alive; she died trying to defend herself.

About half of her life was lived under OJ’s control. If we had had more compassion and courage – if we had been willing to see domestic violence for the threat to women’s lives that it is – how much longer might her life have been?

Moira Donegan is a Guardian US columnist

Source: The Guardian UK

O.J. Simpson, Ex-football Star Acquitted of Murder, Dies at 76

O.J. Simpson, the star NFL football player whose 1995 acquittal in the so-called “trial of the century” for the brutal murders of his wife and a male friend gripped the world, has died at the age of 76, his family announced.

“On April 10, our father, Orenthal James Simpson, succumbed to his battle with cancer,” a message signed by the family said on social media site X.

O.J. Simpson appeared to have made it after rewriting the record books as an American football star.

But it all came crashing down in 1994 when Simpson, who had parlayed his sports fame into a career as an actor and advertising pitchman, was charged with the murder of his ex-wife and a male companion.

Simpson was famously acquitted of those charges in 1995, but was sent to prison years later for a bungled armed robbery.

The former National Football League running back — who has died at the age of 76, his family said Thursday — will forever be remembered in connection with the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman.

His sensational racially charged 1995 double murder trial transfixed America and was dubbed “The Trial of the Century.”

Simpson’s spectacular fall from grace came after a meteoric rise to stardom that saw him go from an impoverished childhood to the football field and then to Hollywood.

– From rags to NFL stardom –

Born Orenthal James Simpson on July 9, 1947 in San Francisco, he was left in his mother’s care at age five when his father left, growing up poor and suffering from rickets, a calcium and vitamin deficiency that warped his legs.

Unable to afford an operation, his mother created crude braces by putting the wrong shoe on each foot and his legs grew stronger, so strong that eventually he was able to dash 100 yards in 9.9 seconds.

Simpson won the prestigious Heisman Trophy — for the best player in American collegiate football — at the University of Southern California in 1968 and was picked number one overall in the NFL draft the next year by the Buffalo Bills.

In 1973, he won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award after becoming the first rusher to gain more than 2,000 yards in a single season.

Simpson retired from football in 1979 and was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.

He had a short-lived career as sports broadcaster before setting his sights on Hollywood.

Simpson has said he was lucky that he went into the movies at a time when Americans were looking for more Black faces on the big screen.

He appeared in several successful films including “The Towering Inferno,” “The Naked Gun” series and “Capricorn One” but never really achieved A-list stardom.

He did, however, strike it big with corporate America and he proceeded to cash in with advertisements for Royal Crown Cola, Schick, Foster Grant, TreeSweet orange juice and Wilson Sporting Goods.

He became best known, however, for iconic Hertz rental car ads in which “The Juice” — his football nickname — sprinted through a crowded airport in a three-piece suit.

In 1977, he met Nicole Brown, then an 18-year-old waitress in a disco on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Simpson was married at the time to his first wife, Marguerite. The couple divorced and he married Nicole in 1985.

Simpson and Nicole had two children and divorced in 1992 after a tempestuous marriage that included allegations of domestic violence.

On June 13, 1994, Simpson’s ex-wife and Goldman were found murdered outside her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood.

Brown Simpson had been stabbed in the throat so savagely she had almost been decapitated.

Simpson immediately became the prime suspect.

Five days after the murders, he led police on a wild car chase on the Los Angeles freeways that was broadcast live and watched by millions.

He eventually surrendered and went on trial in January 1995.

His nine-month trial — which has been the subject of several television shows, books and documentaries – riveted the nation and much of the world.

It featured Simpson at one point struggling to try on a pair of gloves found at the crime scene which apparently didn’t fit.

The trial ended with a not-guilty verdict that split the country, largely along racial lines.

But the law caught up with Simpson again.

He was arrested in Las Vegas in 2007 and charged with armed robbery, assault and kidnapping after a confrontation with two sports memorabilia dealers.

Simpson claimed he was just trying to get back mementos from his sports career which the dealers had allegedly taken from him.

This time, the jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to serve between nine and 33 years behind bars.

He left prison in October 2017 and was largely out of sight, though he engaged with fans on social media.

His story was turned into “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” which won multiple Emmy awards including outstanding limited series.

AFP

Tinubu Hails Dangote At 67

President Bola Tinubu has extended his warm congratulations to Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the Chairman of the Dangote Group, on the occasion of his birthday, today, April 10, 2024.

The President joined the family and friends of Alhaji Dangote to celebrate the founder of the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa and one of Africa’s business lodestars.

Referencing the many industrial feats of the business colossus, President Tinubu extols Alhaji Dangote’s famed dauntless and inventive spirit, as well as his facility for excellence in any venture.

Disclosing this in a statement signed by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Tinubu: “commends the Chairman of the Dangote Group for his interventions and support for Nigeria’s young entrepreneurs, describing him as one of the industrialists who have kept the country on the global map as a haven for enterprise.

“As Alhaji Dangote marks this birthday, the President wishes him many more prosperous years in his storied endeavours in Nigeria, Africa, and the world.”

Tinubu Felicitates Elegushi at 48

President Bola Tinubu has warmly congratulated Oba Saheed Ademola Elegushi (Kusenla III) on the occasion of his 48th birthday.

A statement issued on Wednesday by Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity) said the president joined members of the Elegushi family, friends, well-wishers, and the people of Ikate kingdom in wishing Kabiyesi more years of good health in the throne and purposeful leadership to his people.

President Tinubu commended Oba Elegushi for his unwavering dedication to the welfare of his people since his coronation in 2010, and for building constructive relationships across the country that have helped to create a formidable network of support for government programmes and initiatives.

He prayed for God’s unceasing guidance and protection on the Royal Father as he further advances his services to his community and the nation.

Born on April 10, 1976, Oba Saheed Ademola is the 21st Elegushi of the Ikate-Elegushi Kingdom. He is a descendant of the Kusenla Ruling House of Ikateland in Lagos State, he succeeded his father, the late Oba Yekini Adeniyi Elegushi, the 20th Oba Elegushi of Ikateland, who reigned from 1991 to 2009.

He was presented with the staff of office by the Lagos State Government on April 27, 2010.

Before ascending the throne, Oba Elegushi served as Personal Assistant to President Bola Tinubu when he was Lagos State Governor (1999–2007) and Senior Special Assistant to his successor, Babatunde Fashola (2007-2015).

BREAKING: Former Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu Is Dead

A former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu is dead.

The first civilian governor of Abia State died after a brief illness in an undisclosed hospital in Nigeria.

Onu, it could be recalled was among aspirants that sought the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He served as minister under the immediate past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Onu, born on December 1, 1951, in Ohaozara, had been a prominent figure in Nigerian politics, serving in various capacities including as Minister under the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

His tenure as Minister witnessed significant strides in the fields of science, technology, and innovation.

Having been appointed by President Buhari, Dr. Onu played a crucial role in shaping Nigeria’s policies and advancements in the realm of science and technology.

His contributions have left a lasting impact on the nation.

Zenith Bank Caps 2023 With Unprecedented Triple-digit Topline and Bottom-line Growth

Zenith Bank Plc has announced its audited results for the year ended December 31, 2023, achieving a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings from NGN945.6 billion reported in 2022 to NGN2.132 trillion in 2023. According to the audited financial results for the 2023 financial year presented to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX), this impressive triple-digit growth in gross earnings resulted in a Year-on-Year (YoY) increase of 180% in Profit Before Tax (PBT) from NGN284.7 billion in 2022 to NGN796 billion in 2023. Profit After Tax (PAT) also recorded triple-digit growth of 202% from NGN223.9 billion to NGN676.9 billion in the period ended December 31, 2023. 

The increase in gross earnings is primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income increased by 112% from NGN540 billion in 2022 to NGN1.1 trillion in 2023. Non-interest income grew by 141% from NGN381 billion to NGN918.9 billion in the same period. The increase in interest income is attributed to the growth in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, alongside the rise in the yield of other interest-bearing instruments over the year. Growth in non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and an increase in gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

The cost of funds grew from 1.9% in 2022 to 3.0% in 2023 due to the high interest rate environment while interest expense increased by 135% from NGN173.5 billion in 2022 to NGN408.5 billion in 2023. Notwithstanding the 32% growth in operating expenses in 2023, the Group’s cost-to-income ratio improved significantly from 54.4% in 2022 to 36.1% in 2023 due to improved top-line performance. Return on Average Equity (ROAE) increased by 118% from 16.8% in 2022 to 36.6% in 2023, underpinned by improved gross earnings, as the Group sought to deliver better shareholder returns. Return on Average Assets (ROAA) also grew by 95% from 2.1% to 4.1% in the same period. 

The Group has continued to deepen its market leadership in key corporate and retail deposit segments as customer deposits increased by 69% from NGN9.0 trillion to NGN15.2 trillion in 2023. Its retail drive continues to yield dividends as retail deposits now constitute 46% of total deposits (compared to 44% in 2022) and grew by 77% from NGN3.97 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.04 trillion in 2023, also reinforcing increased customer confidence in the Zenith brand.

Total assets increased by 66% from NGN12.3 trillion in 2022 to NGN20.4 trillion in 2023, largely due to growth in total deposits and the revaluation of foreign currency deposits. Gross loans grew by 71% from NGN4.1 trillion in 2022 to NGN7.1 trillion in 2023 due to the revaluation of foreign currency loans and the growth in local currency risk assets. As a result of the disciplined and diligent approach to risk assets creation and management, the loan growth did not significantly impact the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) ratio, which increased marginally from 4.3% to 4.4% despite the heightened risk environment and challenging operating environment, an attestation to the Group’s resilience despite headwinds and a challenging macroeconomic environment. Also, the prudential ratios remain within regulatory thresholds, with the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) and liquidity ratio at 21.7% and 71.0%, respectively, at the close of 2023. 

As a demonstration of its commitment to shareholders, the bank has announced a proposed final dividend payout of NGN3.50 per share, bringing the total dividend to NGN4.00 per share.

In 2024, the Group will complete the transition to a holding company structure, which is anticipated to position it advantageously for exploring emerging opportunities in the Fintech space while bolstering its digital and retail banking initiatives. Furthermore, the Group is undertaking urgent necessary actions to meet the new minimum NGN500 billion equity capital requirement to maintain its international authorisation within the timeframe stipulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This will strengthen its presence in key markets to continue positioning for sustainable growth and value addition for stakeholders.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, including being recognised as Best Bank in Nigeria, for the fourth time in five years, from 2020 to 2022 and in 2024, in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; the Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria in the Euromoney Awards 2023, being listed in the World Finance Top 100 Global Companies in 2023; being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital, for the 14th consecutive year, in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria, for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023, in the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022 and 2023; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards 2020 and 2022; Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa, for four successive years from 2020 to 2023, by the Ethical Boardroom; Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards; Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards.

Also, the bank emerged as the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021; Bank of the Year 2023 and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022, at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards. Similarly, Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.

FirstBank: 130 Years of Enabling Success

In a country with short-lived corporate excellence and a handful of centenary companies, hitting 130 years is undoubtedly a significant milestone for Nigeria’s premier financial institution, FirstBank. GEOFF IYATSE writes.

Experience, they say, comes with age. Nothing else aptly defines the consistent growth of First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FirstBank) and its consistent reinvention as the conscience of corporate Nigeria in the face of rising competition from traditional and other shadow banking brands. 

Not many living Nigerians can list a single other existing Nigerian company founded in 1894, long before modern Nigeria was created. But FirstBank has not only survived the long 13 decades during which it etched itself into the socio-economic fabric of the country and created a niche as Nigeria’s banker, but it has also pushed itself into the frontier of financial technology evolution, making an inroad into the consciousness of tech-savvy Nigerian youths and the upwardly mobile banking public.    

For an organisation that has stuck to Nigeria through thick and thin and enjoyed the monopoly of banking the country from the cradle, long before Africa tasted the beauty of financial system evolution, FirstBank could have been a dinosaur. That would have been easy. But it has chosen the tougher option; challenging traditions, breaking new ground, and constantly refreshing its operational template to stay ahead of the curve.  

Established in 1894 as British Bank of West Africa (BBWA) by the late Sir Alfred Lewis Jones, a shipping magnate, FirstBank has been at the forefront of Nigeria’s economic growth and development through its superior banking services and social investments across sectors – manufacturing, small and medium scale enterprise (SMEs), agriculture, oil and gas and just about every other sector that has contributed to the country’s economic discovery.

The history of FirstBank is the history of Nigeria. At some point in its history, it even served as Nigeria’s Central Bank. Today, as the undisputed leader of the country’s brick-and-mortar banking, its nearly 800 business locations across the country give it robust presence in every local government across the nation.

Of course, in an era of ‘click’ banking, no financial institution is assessed by the strength of its physical banking network alone. Interestingly, the premier institution understands this logic, hence it has emerged as a force in continuously investing in cutting-edge financial technologies.  For one, FirstMobile, its digital banking application, has also become a household name in the financial technology ecosystem. In 2015, when the platform was still at its infancy stage, its user base was about 60,000, a number that has soared to over six million (a growth of over 10,000%) as of last year. That has contributed immensely to its changed perception from traditional bank to innovative digital bank. Today, about 85 per cent of its transactions are initiated via digital platforms, according to insights provided by the bank in its public statements.

FirstMobile appears to have hit the bull’s eye in the bank’s reinvention drive and efforts to appeal to younger demographics. But the platform itself is only one of the potpourri of telecommunications-driven initiatives it has taken on to get young depositors on board. FirstOnline users have also grown from about 90,000 to over one million in less than a decade just as its USSD banking, which targets feature phone users, is even more successful with users increasing by close to 3,000 per cent in the last eight years, to about 15 million.

Last year alone, its Firstmonie Agent banking services processed over ₦1.1 trillion in transactions, more than double the amount handled by seven other big banks. Some of its strategic investments in technology include the development of its smart and interactive transaction banking platform known as FirstDirect2.0 and the introduction of the humanoid robot to the banking ecosystem in the country. The smart banking initiatives have been complemented by its Digital Xperience Centres (DXC) which are currently located in Lagos, Ibadan, and Abuja with plans to open more across the nation.

Overall, its digital banking has evolved in both volume and public perception even with artificial intelligence-driven commercials complementing its digital imprints. Ease, convenience and reliability created in recent years have moved the customer base from 0.6 million in 2015 to well over 42 million customer accounts as of 2023. This number, according to the Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank Group, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, during an interview with The Guardian last year, would double in no distant future as the organisation migrates aggressively to transaction-led banking. In September 2023 the bank’s non-interest income hit ₦293.0 billion, up 111.6% in comparison to September 2022 at ₦138.5 billion validating the bank’s commitment to a transaction-based era.    

In addition, the number of users on the Bank’s digital channels has grown from about 600,000 users in 2015 to over 23.2 million users in 2023.

On the back of the extensive technology infrastructure overhaul FirstBank embarked on under Adeduntan’s leadership, its digital banking channels have become the most dominant delivery channel with the percentage of customer-induced transactions processed via digital channels increased from about 20% to over 90%. FirstBank has equally been consistent in its profitability. Its Group profit before tax (PBT) has climbed steadily from 10Billion naira in 2015 to 362.24Billion naira in 2023. 

For an organisation that has not only created Nigeria’s banking industry but also dynamically shaped it, there is no reason the brand would not attract the best professionals. It attracted a blend of top Nigerian bankers and became the training ground for young professionals who have contributed to its rich history of corporate leadership. Despite this, Adeduntan who assumed office with a touch of dynamism, clearly understood the meeting point between institutional legacy and modern ‘click’ banking. In close to a decade since he first took over the reins at the Bank, he has brought this to bear, rejuvenating the rich corporate culture of the bank, competing actively in the youth space in both employment and business.         

Nigerian banks have grown to become international brands, competing for businesses across Africa, (which they have dominated), Europe, Asia, and other Continents. With its United Kingdom subsidiary (which has a representative office in Paris, France) celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2022, FirstBank has led the revolution. Other subsidiaries of Nigeria’s premier financial inclusion services provider include FirstBank in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia; FBNBank in Ghana and Senegal as well as a Representative Office in Beijing, China.

Indeed, local banks have done well in recent years in opening offshore operations except that most of them are cost-centres, hence the promoters are often accused of ego-seeking and extroversion. And it is true because most of the subsidiaries’ operations have created a gaping hole in the bottom lines of the consolidated accounts of many of the institutions. But FirstBank turned the tide. In 2022, its overseas operations contributed a combined 21.3 per cent to the group’s pre-tax profit. Adeduntan has repositioned the financial institution from purely a Nigerian company to a multinational brand with African focus but a Nigerian nucleus. 

Beyond its name, it has recorded several firsts in the industry it single-handedly created. Some firsts include – the first to be listed on the stock exchange, the first – amongst the existing banks – to adopt the use of ATM and the first Nigerian bank – and second in Africa – to reach the 10 million ATM cards-issued milestone. In addition, FirstBank is leading in AI and robotics with regards to the deployment of Humanoid Robots, in the financial services space in Nigeria.  The robots are equipped with Video Banking and Artificial Intelligence (AI), taking on the role of friendly branch staff. The financial institution is the first to foray into arts, food, music, and other lifestyle sponsorships as part of the brand value proposition for clients of all ages. 

Speaking on the resilience of the bank at a recent function Adeduntan disclosed what he called the bank’s secret of success: “At FirstBank, our purpose is to enable success, putting our customers and stakeholders at the heart of our business. 

“For the years of our existence, we have focused on providing excellent financial services to meet the needs of our esteemed customers. We continue to improve on our products and create new ones that suit their specific needs. The reason why we have been successful is our ability to invent and reinvent ourselves. You can only be successful like that when you make your customer the centrepoint of all your actions. That is the secret of our success.”

The bank has demonstrated it is a responsible corporate citizen, playing a catalytic role in the economic and social development of the country. FirstBank’s sustainability/ESG focus, and commitments are in three key areas: Responsible Lending, Procurement & Climate Performance; Financial Inclusion & Diversity; as well as Education, Health, and Welfare. 

Customers of the financial institution remain a vital element of its business. So, the bank constantly seeks responsible ways to provide lending and investment products and services that meet the customers’ needs, while ensuring that it manages the environmental social and governance (ESG) impacts in the process thus contributing to and promoting overall sustainable growth and development. About N5 Trillion worth of transactions were screened for ESG risks in 2023.   

The bank has shown its commitment to playing a key role in the transition to a global net-zero economy by decarbonising its operations and value chains, driving climate finance, and promoting climate thought-leadership. For example, its partnership with Nigeria Conservation Foundation has seen the financial giant begin 50,000 trees planting with this year 2024 set as target year for this audacious goal.  

FirstBank’s community development initiatives are anchored on its strategic Education, Health, and Welfare pillars. In 2023 alone, FirstBank executed various projects under the Start Performing Acts of Random Kindness (SPARK) initiative with growing impacts across 8 countries, including 60 beneficiary schools with over 150,000 secondary school students, and 30,000 underprivileged people and widows; over N100,000,000 (one hundred million naira) donations covering books and infrastructure for students, food items and clothing for the underprivileged, provision of capital for small and micro businesses. 

Its FutureFirst programme in partnership with Junior Achievers Nigeria (JAN) has impacted over 1,000,000 (one million) people across the regions of the country including Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja with the knowledge of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. It has also strategically driven partnerships with over 100 Charities/NGOs including LEAP Africa; International Women Society; UNGC; UN Women; Junior Achievement Nigeria.

Following the COVID-19 lockdown, FirstBank stepped in to donate cash (over 1 billion naira) and food to support the government in the fight against the pandemic. It also provided an innovative e-Learning initiative enabling the education of one million Nigerian students to drive sustainable efforts towards improving education for all. In partnership with the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), it launched a N5 billion LSETF-First Edu Loan scheme to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on low-cost private schools in Lagos State.

For 30 years, FirstBank has remained a sponsor of the annual Nigerian Economic Summit, organised by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, a think tank group with a mandate to promote and champion the transformation of the Nigerian economy into a private sector-led economy. 

It is known for other sponsorships including, the Kaduna Georgian Cup Polo Tournament, now in its 103rd year, which is perhaps the longest-standing sports sponsorship in the world. FirstBank is also a long-standing sponsor of the Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship at the Ikoyi Club, a property it has faithfully sponsored for 62 years.

The bank has played a crucial role in empowering entrepreneurs, women, students and the rapidly growing creative industries locally, which are gaining global recognition. Its strategic interventions through DecemberIssaVybe, FirstGem, SPARK, FirstBank Women Network and numerous other campaigns have been impactful, especially in addressing some key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

FirstBank has demonstrated its commitment to Diversity through policies, partnerships, and initiatives, such as its employees’ ratio of female to male (39 per cent :61 percent); and 32 percent women in management, and 11 women on the Board of Directors across the FirstBank Group as well as various initiatives aimed at addressing the gender gap and increasing participation of women at all levels within the organisation. 

In addition, the Bank’s membership of the UN Women is an affirmation of a deliberate policy that is consistent with UN Women’s Women Empowerment Principles – Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Non-discrimination.

And there have been rewards via awards for its leadership and life-changing initiatives. The recent ones include Best Corporate Bank at the recent Euromoney Awards for Excellence, Nigeria 2023; Best Corporate Bank Western Africa 2023, by Global Banking and Finance; Best Internet Banking in Nigeria 2023, by International Business Awards; Most Innovative Banking Brand in Nigeria, by Global Brands Awards; the Financial Institution of the Year 2023, by Afreximbank Pan-African Business and Development; Best CSR Bank Western Africa 2023 by Global Banking and Finance Magazine; Market Leader Nigeria in ESG – Euromoney Market Leaders 2022. For six consecutive years (2011 – 2016), FirstBank was named ‘Most Valuable Bank Brand in Nigeria’ by The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group and ‘the Best Retail Bank in Nigeria’ from 2011 to 2018, an award of the Asian Banker International Excellence in Retail Financial Services Awards. 

At the heart of FirstBank’s success story – which includes enabling the success stories of its customers and other stakeholders – lies its ability to continuously reinvent itself. And the reinvention seems to have started in earnest. For instance, its stock soared recently, pushing the Group into the exclusive club of stocks with over one trillion (SWOOT) capitalisation. A few months after the remarkable feat, it went, shoving other lenders aside to reclaim the most capitalised banking stock on the stock exchange.

It has been 13 decades of rising and growing with Nigeria. But FirstBank is obviously not slowing down in its journey with the country its operation pre-dated.

Culled from The Guardian

Showbiz Promoter, Adetutu Jakande, Shares Her Life Story and Business Success

UK Based Showbiz Promoter, Prophetess Adetutu Jakande, Shares Her Life Story and Business Success
Although she’s not a professional musician, Prophetess Adetutu Jakande is one of the industrious women shaping the music business. The CEO of Angel Global Promotions’ tentacles are spread from Africa to Europe. While musicians take the centerstage, women entrepreneurs shape the music industry from backstage, bringing established music talents to world’s audiences and making emerging talents to find their voice. In this interview, the UK based society lady speaks about her success in the music promotion business, the challenges of making a name, her kind of personality, and more.

Excerpts…

Making waves as a promoter in the entertainment industry in Nigeria is not a tea party; tell us what the challenges were in the beginning.

It was not really easy, but with the help of God, determination and focus, I was able to break even as a promoter.

What were you doing for living before coming into promoting artistes?

That is a long story. I am someone who loves listening to music because music they said is life. When you’re sad or depressed, try as much as possible to listen to some kind of music. 

Please, introduce yourself and tell us what your childhood dream actually was.

My name is Prophetess Adetutu Jakande popularly known as Angel Global Promotions.

To be a successful artistes promoter, one must be versatile in areas like networking and marketing. Does it also involve knowing how to sing or understanding what good music is?

Well, I should say it is not compulsory you know how to sing before you could be a promoter. But you have to understand what music is all about, have the skill and be relevant in all areas.

Does your popularity in the industry happen with cash you put into the business, your know-how or familiarity with the industry?

Money is not everything, though generosity sometimes matters. What people think about you and their belief in your abilities matter a lot. I must say my popularity is based on my generosity and my ability because people believe that I put my best in what I do.

How do you build relationship with artistes that catch your fancy and what are the strategies applied to get them to be popular with the audience?

Humility is the key. I deal with my artistes with an open mind. When I work with you, I remain honest with everything I do.

You have promotional deals with a lot and some of the best music artistes in the industry; would you like to mention their names and which of them would you say gave you the most partnership satisfaction?

I have been around for a while like I said earlier. I have had promotional deals with the likes of King Wasiu Ayinde, Sir Shina Akanni, Alabi Pasuma, Abass Obesere, Alao Malaika, and so many others I can’t mention now.

In the entertainment promotion industry, there’s the issue of poaching where a fellow outfit goes after the other’s best selling artiste or artistes; have you had such an experience in the past, and what is your partnership agreement like with your artiste?

In such cases, it may be happening, but I work with mature artistes and we have an understanding based on mutual agreements.

As a stakeholder in the entertainment industry, what is your fear about the Nigerian music industry, considering its rapid growing and flourishing with talented artistes who compete with their counterparts across the globe?

I have no fear because I believe that ,day after day, new talents are being discovered and we have living legends, evergreen songs.

Music promoters are the driving force behind successful concerts and artistes’ popularity. Have you had any experience dealing with an artiste and you felt your efforts were not appreciated?

To me everyday, is not Christmas. And to all businessmen or businesswomen, you should know that it is not everyday you make huge profits. That’s why we have a topic in Accounting back in school days; ‘Trading Profit and Loss Account’.

How would you compare business success in Africa and Europe based on the fact that the African audience would rather spray cash directly on the artistes in concert than paying for gate ticket?

About that; since money is being made after all, I think that should not be a problem either you pay the gate fee or you’re on my stage to spray my artiste, all I’m after is that money should be made.

Tell us about your weak and strong points.

My weak point is disappointment and my strong point is success at the End.

Tell us about the next big projects coming from Angel Global stable.

My next projects are many, but I’ll make mention of a few. Right now, we’ve started a talent hunt which is called Angel Global Production Youth Talent Hunt. We’re trying to discover youths with great talent in terms of singing, dancing, skit making, drumming etc.

Tosin Adeniyi @ 50: December 1998 Revisited, By Louis Odion

The air, this December harmattan morning, was tense. The two dozen intending couples had filed out in two rolls before the altar in the commodious cathedral, except one. As the best-man to the only groom without bride, yours sincerely found himself sharing himself between casting anxious gaze at the church’s door intermittently and calming the groom on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Feigning ignorance of the conspicuous absence among the parties gathered before him, the officiating priest continued the customary sermon espousing marital values. But as one minute followed another agitated minute, what the embarrassed groom and the best-man actually began to hear from the loudspeakers was mere sound of words, not their meaning.

Then, visibly ruffled Segun Adeniyi, with the snow-white lace gloves now discarded in anger, suddenly broke from the altar assembly and dashed out in a desperate hope to find the missing bride, while I trailed him in uneasy steps.

The unfolding suspense only seemed to add to the surfeit of gut-wrenching dramas we had encountered in the countdown to the D-Day.

For instance, our identical, navy-blue suits were not delivered until the very eve of the wedding by the tailor introduced to us by our then boss at the Sunday Concord, Mr. Tunji Bello.

Now outside the Winners Chapel this harmattan-scorched day, it was quite a Herculean task for yours sincerely to calm Segun down as he kept muttering, “Why did Tosin choose to disgrace me this way?”

It wasn’t yet the era of cellphones when communication was seamless and easy.
Not finding answers immediately, we soon went back inside to rejoin others intending couples.

From distance, I could see beads of sweat cascading down the face of Mr. Segun Babatope in unspeakable unease among the congregation in the otherwise well-aerated gallery.

His discomfiture should be understood. He had diligently fulfilled the duty of “Alarina” (Yoruba for cultural mediator) engaged in a tortuous “negotiations” with the bride’s dad to agree to the union.

All that was left was for the priest to formally say “I pronounce you husband and wife” when, lo, the much-awaited bride barged in and ran to the altar, to a thunderous applause and laughter of the entire church.

“Well,” continued the priest jocularly when silence returned, “It’s better to be late than never.”

It later emerged that Tosin’s delay was not intentional. Their motorcade got trapped in a traffic jam caused by the monthly prayer staged by another mega Pentecostal church elsewhere in Lagos. She had to hop onto “Okada” to get to the church eventually…

How time flies indeed! How ironic that, twenty-six years after that near-miss of December 1998, Tosin and Segun Adeniyi have not only calcified into an impregnable union but also raised three adorable, well-behaved children who are doing very well in their own individual pursuit in life. The last being Korede (harbinger of good tidings), a stocky lad (whom I usually tease as “My dad is a journalist!”) schooling in Boston, United States.

How gladdening and truly remarkable then that Tosin is entering the fifth floor (born April 12, 1974) not only as an accomplished professional (stockbroker), but also a shinning model of motherhood and virtuous wife at an age when it is increasingly fashionable to trade pristine family values away for the ephemerality of career growth or vice versa.

This exceptionalism can be attributed to Tosin’s uncommon personal qualities: humility, respect, honesty, contentment and forbearance. I make such categorical depositions as one who has known and been like brother to Segun for more than thirty years including when he first “toasted” Tosin as student at Lagos Poly.

The law of physics states that opposites attract. For Tosin and Segun, it is undoubtedly a case of mutual reinforcement forged in shared deep commitment to Christian values like charity.

An expression of that is the Not Forgotten Initiative (NFI), an NGO founded and run by Tosin providing succor to the needy in Abuja over the years.

He who finds a wife, declares the holy Bible, has found a good thing. Talented singer Sonny Nneji adds, “She plays the harmony to the sound you make” in his seminal “Oruka”. For more than a quarter of a century they have been married, not once have I seen or heard Segun and Tosin engaged in any big fight. Other than once when I heard often restless Segun walked away from a scheduled family photo shoot at home because it was taking rather too long for Tosin to decide on her clothes and make-up.

But after a while, Segun returned with a contrived frown. Only a little joke “Oju to le ko le tan ina cigar” (fieriness of a countenance can never light a cigarette) by Tosin and Segun burst into delirious laughter. End of quarrel.

Being married to journalism/writer can be very challenging indeed. For the vocation is demanding and jealous, requiring an understanding spouse. Tosin is Segun’s greatest cheer-leader. Through the 90s and early 2000s, Segun and I were like professional Siamese twin. Right from Concord to ThisDay.

As deputy to him when editor, I recall Tosin never failed to call on production nights. In such agonizing wee hours while still brainstorming for cover story for the next edition, Segun would hand the phone over to me to hear Tosin consoling, “Epele. Won ni esi nwa cover.” (Sorry, he said you folks are yet to find suitable cover story to lead with).

But don’t be fooled by Tosin’s easy smiles or meek look. She is very shrewd and relentless when it comes to business. So much that she could persuade a cynical Edo man like me to take an insurance policy at a time!

Segun is a man of good heart, generous to a fault and incapable of malice. Tosin has to be the family accountant, to save Segun from going bankrupt out of instinctive giving spirit. One of such “safety mechanisms” is barring him from operating internet banking. Otherwise, Segun cannot say No to anyone who call him for the proverbial “urgent N2k”.

Her shrewdness served the family well at a time of great need following the unexpected death of President Umar Yar’Adua in May 2010. To take the job of Special Adviser on Media to the President in 2007, the family sold their home at Ajah, Lagos and relocated to Abuja. They moved into an official quarter, close to Aso Rock.

It is a measure of Segun’s contentment and aversion to crass material acquisition that he never gave a thought to the idea of securing a personal property in Abuja for the three years he worked for the President.
So, Yar’Adua’s sudden death meant the family temporarily faced homelessness with the change of guard at the Presidency.

With eviction from the official quarters looming, Segun spent the next six months running around to raise money to develop a parcel of land allocated to him at Asokoro long before he became Special Adviser. Tosin took charge at the construction site daily and personally supervised the building from foundation to the finishing, getting involved in negotiating the prices of materials. While Segun was on the road looking for money.

On a jovial note, let it however be put on record that it was not in all projects Tosin succeeded. Hard as she tried, her efforts to match-make this writer and the best-lady after her own wedding in 1998 failed after a year of conspiracies and arranged dates. Right from the wedding reception held at Airport Hotel, Ikeja, she was the first to tease that her bosom friend, a svelte beauty, and I looked fit for each other. Apparently, she put similar idea in her friend’s head. So much that we soon found ourself calling each other and me visiting her in school at Lagos State University.

However, following my failure to report much “progress” after several months, Segun soon hatched another plan, now at GSP parish of Redeemed Church in Lagos where we both worshipped then. This time, Segun’s own “project” was another smashing beauty and church worker. Proud of his “old school” methodology, he resorted to the tactic of bombarding her with links to my writings to which she, I was told, had expressed great admiration.

But after several months, it turned out another failed project. Maybe, just maybe my Edo testosterone was still far too restless to yield to conjugal regimentation at 25.

Here is wishing Tosin, the good wife, many happy returns of the day!