Stakeholders’ verdicts on NDIC @ 30th anniversary celebration

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The verdicts returned on the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) by guests at its recently concluded 30th Anniversary were same and unanimous! It was that the Corporation had offered the desired layer of protection, inspired public confidence as well as helped promote stability in the banking system through effective discharge of its mandate of deposit guarantee, banking supervision, distress resolution and orderly liquidation of closed banks without disruption to the payment system. They were also united in their submission that the Corporation had achieved the lofty height of the past 30 years amidst daunting challenges imposed by its weak and defective law which was over-ripped for another review.

In what could be described as a “Parliament”, the guests; from Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to the Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan; House Speaker, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Shamsudeen Usman; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; Royal Fathers led by Ooni of Ife, HIM Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi and Emir of Kazaure, HRH Dr. Najib Hussaini Adamu; Guest Lecturer, Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede and several captains of the banking industry passed a seemingly “vote of confidence” on NDIC and also adopted what looked like a “motion” for the amendment of its Act without further delay.

As a child of necessity, NDIC was established in 1989 as an important component of Nigeria’s financial safety net to provide adequate institutional response to the envisaged fallouts of government’s Structural Adjustment System (SAP) and the subsequent liberalisation of the banking system. The Corporation recently celebrated its 30th Anniversary from 18th – 24th October, 2019. As it turned out, the celebration was one with a difference as its echoes have continued to resonate in public discourse. Three events namely Anniversary Public Lecture/Book Presentation held in Abuja and Dinners held both in Abuja and Lagos stood out as highpoints of the celebration.

NDIC Board Chairman, MD/CE Speak

Speaking at the Anniversary Lecture/Book Presentation, the NDIC Board Chairman, Mrs. Ronke Sokefun described the Corporation’s 30th Anniversary as a significant milestone in the history of the Nigerian banking system. She said despite obvious gaps in its enabling Act, in the past 30 years, NDIC had demonstrated uncommon capacity for efficiency and effective performance to the extent that it could be confidently stated that it had effectively implemented its mandate with the close support of the Ministry of Finance as its supervising Ministry and collaboration of other key members of the financial safety net, particularly the CBN.

Current MD/CE who was also a pioneer executive staff, Umaru Ibrahim said though the Corporation had come a long way in its journey, it was more determined to confront emerging challenges in the banking system such as operational risks, remarkable growth of bank assets, changing customers’ preferences, fintech and phenomenal incursion of digital currencies globally. Ibrahim disclosed that the Corporation was currently developing a special team on innovation and digital currency as part of response to the challenges. He also said a tripartite programme of accelerated development involving the Corporation, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and University of Bangor was introduced in 2013 as part of strategies to put in place the critical work force required for the task ahead. He urged the 9th National Assembly to accord priority to the passage of the NDIC Act Amendment Bill towards addressing operational challenges confronting the Corporation.

Goodwill Messages

Various dignitaries delivered goodwill messages that extoled NDIC’s invaluable contributions to Nigeria’s financial system stability. The OOni of Ife who praised the Corporation for its lofty achievements appealed to the National Assembly for the speedy amendment of the NDIC Act to remove the impediments militating against its optimum performance. The Emir of Kazaure, HRH Najib Hussaini Adamu recalled his experience of the thoroughness of NDIC examiners as a banker, which made bankers to fear and respect them. He called on the Corporation to keep its banner of integrity flying.

The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Hajiya Shamsudeen Usman commended NDIC for being at the forefront of activities that promoted financial system stability, saying the Executive Arm of Government was well aware of the NDIC’s contributions to financial inclusion and other economic policies of government. She commended the Corporation’s consistent remittance of operating surpluses to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) which she said stood at N212 billion since 2007. She was represented by the Director of Home Finance, Mr. Okoh Udo. The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele on his part said the apex bank was happy to identify with NDIC on the occasion. He lauded the Corporation’s consistent collaboration with the bank in the task of creating and sustaining financial system stability in Nigeria. The Governor who was also at the World Economic Forum was represented by the Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Mr. Edward Adamu.

Secretary-General of the International Association of Deposit Insurers (IADI), Mr. David Walker described NDIC as an important part of the “IADI Family”. He said the frontline role of the Corporation in Africa and the world was well recognized by the Association. He was represented by Mr. Nikolay Remchukov.

Remarks by Senate President and House Speaker

Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan congratulated the Corporation on its giant strides since inception. Reacting to the appeal by the OOni of Ife for the passage of the NDIC Act Amendment Bill, the Senate President said:  “The Ooni of Ife raised a royal motion and when there is a royal motion, you do not put that kind of motion to question. Everybody here knows that the NDIC Act needs amendment. So, the Ooni’s motion has received a ‘Yes’. He therefore assured that the bill to amend the NDIC Act would receive accelerated hearing by the National Assembly to ensure efficiency in the banking system. On his part, the Speaker, Federal House of Representatives who was represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Banking & Currency, Hon. Victor Nwokolo congratulated the NDIC and called on the Corporation to use its banking supervision power to profile and bring to book, chronic debtors who borrowed from banks with the intention of not paying back. He also promised that grey areas in the current NDIC Act as well as concerns raised by all stakeholders would be carefully harmonized in the proposed amendment bill.

The Guest Lecture

In a lecture titled: “Emerging Corporate Governance and Risk Issues in Banking”, the guest lecturer who is also co-founder of Access Bank Plc., Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said the Nigerian regulatory community must be commended for the way in which the approach to corporate governance had been refined and developed over time, saying it put the country in a very good place from a corporate governance perspective. However, he said the road to improved risk management had been less successful as the turbulence and systemic weaknesses witnessed in the Nigerian banking sector over the last 15 years, could be linked to failures of risk management.

Mr. Imokhuede traced the growth of banks in the country and noted that the sector was fast growing at a rapid rate. The banker projected that in the next three years, the biggest banks in Nigeria would be bigger than the country’s annual budget. The Lecturer said the system on ground in the country was “fragile” for risk management. According to him: “The regulatory capacity we have today is built for yesterday. We are not ready for the risk of the future, irrespective of what have done in the past. We need to build regulatory capacity for today and tomorrow because the stakes has gone up”. He therefore called for the establishment of Operational and Technological Risk Department by the CBN and NDIC to be able to confront the future effectively.

And the Vice president Reacts

Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who was the Special Guests of Honour congratulated the NDIC on its thirty years of exemplary practice. While underscoring the need for NDIC to be justly proud of its attainments, Prof. Osinbajo said he had heard of the various institutional achievements of the Corporation in the past three decades, especially the part it played in stabilizing the financial system following the days of privatization and private ownership of banks. The VP who noted that the mere existence of the Corporation had always reassured a sometimes nervous system of the safety of the financial system, however challenged NDIC to regard its past successes as stepping stone into the challenging future that lied ahead. He said the lecture of the day was another wake-up call to stakeholders, especially regulatory authorities to come up with a more proactive approach to the challenges stirring the banking sector in the face.

The Vice President also presented a book titled: “30 Years of Deposit Insurance System in Nigeria” to the public. The book was written by NDIC to document its experience in deposit insurance practice from inception till date.

With the curtain drawn on the NDIC 30th Anniversary, it could only be expected that the lessons and agenda thrown up by the celebration would continue to receive attention of relevant stakeholders towards achieving the right roadmap for confronting the future of banking in Nigeria.