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Banks’ll replicate what we did 5 years ago in oil sector to ERGP—FirstBank MD

The managing director and chief executive officer of First Bank of Nigeria Plc., Dr. Adesola Adedutan has give insight on how the Nigerian banks will support federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

It would be recalled that the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, recently called on Nigerian banks to work out a strategy to assist the federal government in driving the ERGP

However, in an interview in Lagos, Adedutan said whereas the banking sector is a significant part of the economy, “With this kind of plan by the government, it is the responsibility of the banks to look at it and say, this is where we can function”

“I will give you a good example, Two to four years ago, the government decided to increase the level of participation of Nigerians in the oil sector, the banks stepped forward.

Continuing, he said “Banks like FirstBank step forward with our balance sheet to provide finance to emerging Nigeria oil and gas companies. Today, we have the likes of Seplat, Sahara Energy, Aiteo. That was a specific government initiative that the banks supported”.

“Also, years ago, when the government decided to privatize the power asset, the bulk of the finance was provided by Nigerian banks. So, Nigerian banks have actually never shied away from providing financial support for government initiatives once there is proper clarity.

He averred that “The banking sector is a sub-set of the economy, thus if the economy is challenged, the sector faces challenges, if the economy is growing, the banking sector grows. As I said, there is a general sense of optimism, thus, we expect the sector. Overall, I expect the sector to mirror the state of the economy. If the economy grows, the sector will grow as well, and vice versa”.

“From where I sit today, what we see is a    general optimism across various segments.  Also, if you notice what the CBN has done over the last five months, it has injected a significant amount of forex (foreign exchange) liquidity into the market to support the economic growth. So, when we say there is a general optimism that is where it is coming from.

“It is our country and we all know that the bigger the GDP, the bigger the opportunities available for banks to grow.  That is where the alignments are between what the government is doing and the opportunities available for us,” Adedutan explained.

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