From Uche Usim, Abuja
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, has described First Bank Plc as a very big entity that cannot be owned by an individual, advising those jostling for it to appreciate that they are doing so on behalf of others.
He also described it as the oldest financial institution in Nigeria that should not crumble, as its failure will cause heavy tremors across the Nigerian banking landscape.
Emefiele made the disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja, at the 139th and final Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting for this year.
The Committee agreed to hold all policy parameters, leaving the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 11.5 per cent; asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR; the CRR at 27.5 per cent; and Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent.
According to Emefiele, the MPC expressed concerns over the blooming insecurity in the country, calling for its arrest because it was capable of retarding the economic recovery momentum.
On First Bank, he said the apex bank began looking into its books six years ago when it noticed the bank’s rising Non-Performing Loans (NPLs).
Emefiele added that First Bank’s travails got to a head when its shares dropped to N2 and everyone shunned the bank immediately.
He explained that the apex bank had to step in to clean up its balance sheet and plant it on progress path.
He said: “Now, the NPL has dropped aggressively, that this money making machine (FBN) is back again on the race for profitability, they are now competing for the shares of First Bank.
“Why should I quarrel that people are competing for the shares of First Bank which six years ago was N2 and they were running away from it. It was N11.54 during the weekend. I’m happy to see that they are competing for the shares. But, of course, they should all know First Bank is so big that no one person can say he owns First Bank.”
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