First Female Chair for NEXIM Bank

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Sarah Alade, CBN deputy governor, becomes teh first female to preside over NEXIM Bank board of directors

|  By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Sep. 9, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

AS part of the efforts to reposition the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, NEXIM, to boost regional trade in West Africa, a new board has been inaugurated. The Board which comprises of Sarah Alade, deputy governor, economic policy, Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Musa Batari, director, trade and exchange, CBN; Kalli Zaji, director, home finance, federal ministry of finance and Suleiman Barau, among others was recently reconstituted by President Goodluck Jonathan and formally inaugurated by the coordinating minister for the Economy and minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the ministry of finance headquarters in Abuja on August 23, 2013.

At the swearing-in ceremony, Okonjo-Iweala noted that the Jonathan-led administration is committed to transforming the Nigerian economy and expanding regional trade through the incorporation of the West African economic zone. According to her, NEXIM is pivotal to achieving the vision.  “NEXIM Bank is a very important part of our finance complex. This bank that was set up to support import and export trade within the country. We are happy to say that it’s proven its worth, and has been performing its functions. But, there are a lot of expectations of this bank. President Goodluck Jonathan has embarked on a path of transforming the economy and has been trying to work with our private sector to expand trade, particularly regional trade and NEXIM has so far supported this vision. We can only encourage and support them to keep up their good work.”

The bank, the minister explained, was established to ensure that Nigeria retains its position as the regional powerhouse. Okonjo-Iweala  told the gathering that Nigeria’s economy is 55 per cent of the regional economy which implies that the country’s economic structures have to be well primed and poised to take charge of affairs and pull commensurate weight in the sub region. The platform for this is the private sector to trade within the region and beyond which, she said, government must support.

She particularly lauded the initiative of the bank’s management to partner with other institutions in order to drive development. “We are proud of the Bank because it’s going in to some very innovative areas, like shipping along the coast, entering into partnerships with many institutions, like the African Development Bank, Islamic Bank and some others”.

The minister charged the new members of the board to stand up to the new challenge because the federal government expects them to bring their diverse experience to bear in transforming the bank into an instrument of trade facilitation.

On his part, Ngama Yerima, minister of state for finance, who assumed direct supervision of the bank when the old board was dissolved in 2011, used the occasion to give an account of his stewardship.  He said the bank had done well to meet the expectations of its major shareholders, namely the federal government and the general public. He attributed the success of the bank to the professionalism of the bank’s staff. “They have done well and this is something I would say is a credit to the present management and the staff because in the last two to three years, they have turned the bank from a loss-making to a profit-making institution. Last year was the third year in a row that the bank was posting profit. Not only did we post profit, we also declared dividends for the first time in the history of the bank. This is a good report card for the present management, and also good news for the incoming Board to know that they have people who can really deliver.”

 Yerima also said the outgoing board brought the bank closer to the people by opening new branches outside the major cities like Lagos and Abuja. “Hitherto, it had remained a city bank. We have it in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Calabar. But, by and large, only those who stay in the city know the existence and do business with the Bank. But now I am proud to say that we have about seven agencies in Yenogoa, Akure, Ishiagu, Damaturu, Yola, Gusau and Makurdi. These are the agencies that would ensure that every nook and cranny of Nigeria have customers that do business with the bank.” Yerima also disclosed that NEXIM now has relationships with international credit institutions which have assisted greatly to broaden the scope of the credit offering; to guarantee credit for both export and import as well as credit insurance.

“Based on Mr. President’s recommendation, NEXIM is the foremost DFI in Nigeria to support the creative and entertainment industry in Nigeria. The Bank is currently arranging a credit facility with the EXIM Bank of India. He stressed that it is important to note that even before that memorandum was signed, NEXIM had already injected more than N850m into that sector. One of such facilities was a N300million in Kaduna for an amphitheater to help promote Nigerian films to fully empower the practitioners and the value-chain and save the industry, which is adjudged to be the third biggest in the world from piracy.”

On the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, trade support facility, Yerima disclosed that the bank is in talks with two companies to provide facilities to establish a shipping line that would go from city to city along the West African coast. This is an addition to the facilities being given to transporters to enhance movement of goods across the borders, namely Chad, Cameroon and Benin Republic.

Yerima promised to work towards ensuring that members of the new NEXIM Board and other parastatals under his supervision including the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC,   are exempted from sudden dissolution before the members serve out their tenure. He said this would bring about stability in the organisations.

Speaking for the new Board, Barau, pledged that the new Board members would do their best to improve the existing fortunes of the bank, knowing full well that much is expected of them. He expressed confidence that the new board would leave no stone unturned to ensure that the expectations of Nigerians and that of President Jonathan were met.  “NEXIM will definitely play a key role in developing a vibrant economy, vibrant financial system that would help the transformation agenda of the President and the vision 2020. The new board will work to transform NEXIM to become like AFREXIM, US EXIM bank, and seek sustainable sources for funding the operations of the bank from the market.”

Barau also disclosed that in line with President Jonathan’s affirmative action on 35 per cent on women representation in governance,  Sarah Alade, would be the first woman to serve as Chairman, NEXIM Board of Directors since the inception of the Bank in 1991.

 Other members of the reconstituted NEXIM Board are Ajiya Mahia, director, trade federal ministry of industry, trade and investment, Mohammed Babangida, Peter Nwaoboshi, Roberts Orya, managing director NEXIM, Bashir Wali, executive director, corporate services and Folake Oke, executive director, business development.

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