The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr. Godwin Emefiele, Tuesday described First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) as strong, aggressive domestically.
He made this known while briefing the media after the MPC meeting in in Abuja.
He said, “It’s good for us to cast our mind back to the position of First Bank 6 years ago. Six years ago when CBN started it’s programme of looking at the banks to reposition them. Let us not forget First Bank remains the oldest bank in Nigeria (1894). I use the word strong aggressively, domestically, and the important bank in Nigeria.
“If anything happens to first bank, it means something has happened to the Nigerian banking system and that is why we are taking over guidance about how to get the bank back very seriously.
“Six years like I said, the cause of an aggressive build-up of non-performing loans on the books of First Bank-the share price of First Bank was about two naira per share, we took it on-everybody was running away from the shares of First Bank, because we have cleaned the balance sheet. Now, the NPL has dropped aggressively, that this money making machine (FBN), is back again in the race for profitability, they are now competing for the shares of First Bank,“ he stated.
On how businesses and individuals can repay loans collected during the Covid-19 pandemic, he explained that “From our standpoint, we granted the forbearance regime for just two areas. One primarily has to do with the fact that we said all loans that people, companies and businesses that are impacted negatively by covid-19 that they should be given about 2 years. We first of all started by saying one year from 2020 to March 2021, and by February 2021, we extended it by one more year. When the 3rd strain of the virus continued, we extended it by one more year making it 2 years. That will expire by March 2022, to 2 years moratorium, that was one aspect.
“Another aspect had to do with the fact that we said for cbn interventions, there was a need for us to reduce the interest rate from 9%-5%.
“Indeed, another aspect of the intervention forbearance because we knew that the adverse consequences of covid-19 was resulting in revenue of individuals and companies, we granted the banks an opportunity to allow their customers to ask for a restructure of their facilities maybe it’s a 2 years facility, extend it to four years. If it’s a 4 years facility; extend it to 6 years, maybe a 6 years facility, extend it to 8 years, so as to reduce the impact or the burden of the cash flow on them. And those were the periods when there was unprecedented lockdown of global economy-all countries with no exception were all lockdown, travels came to zero, people were not allowed to leave their houses.”