First Bank Dispute: We Will Ensure The Right Thing Is Done – Emefiele

CBN: Nigeria's Banking System Safe, Stable

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN}, Godwin Emefiele, has stated that the apex monetary authority will make certain that the right things are done in respect of the shareholding dispute at First Bank of Nigeria.

Emefiele stated this while speaking with journalists on Tuesday following the monetary policy committee’s two-day meeting held at the CBN headquarters in Abuja.

He stated that the capital market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has oversight function for issues regarding shareholding.

“As it affects the running and operations of the bank, we (CBN) will take preeminence in ensuring that the right things are done,” Emefiele said.

Emefiele stated that, First bank is very important to the Nigerian banking sector because it is Nigeria’s oldest bank — it was established in 1894.

He revealed his pleasure that Nigerians scrambled to obtain First Bank’s shares.

“First Bank remains the oldest bank in Nigeria. It is the most aggressively domestically important bank in Nigeria,” Emefiele said.

“If anything happens to First Bank, it means something has happened to the Nigerian banking system. That is why we are taking our guidance about how to get the bank afoot seriously.

“Six years ago, like I said, because of an aggressive buildup of non- performing loans, the share price of First Bank was about N2. We took it up. Then, everybody was running away from the shares of First Bank.

“We have cleaned the balance sheet now, people are seeing that the money making machine, First Bank, is back on its feet. They are on the race for profitability. They are now competing for the shares of First Bank. Why should I quarrel about that? I am happy to see that they are competing for the shares.

“Naturally, returns are sent to CBN about individual shareholder. And of course, if our position is not in tandem with that of SEC, we will talk to SEC about it.

“So far, I think we should take the position of SEC as the regulator of the capital market because regulating share price and ownership is the sole responsibility of SEC.

“We would not want to override SEC on these issues but we will continue to work with them. We have a very good relationship with them.”

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