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CBN Initiatives Will Boost SMEs, Stimulate Economic Growth, New Zenith Bank GMD Assures

Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the new Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc was at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Wednesday to introduce some members of his team to the nation’s capital market community.
Fielding questions from capital market correspondents after sounding the gong to close trading for the day, Onyeagwu, applauded recent initiatives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in conjunction with the Bankers’ Committee aimed at boosting lending to key sectors and in the process stimulating economic activities.
Commenting on the 60% Loan to Deposit ratio policy, he said, is laudable as it will help shift lending and enhance the development of Nigeria’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector and lending to retail sector which will greatly impact to the economy.
Onyeagwu dismissed fears by some analysts that the compulsory lending could make banks become reckless and return the industry to the days of the financial crisis so soon, given the improved risk environment and structures already in place to forestall such occurrence. The concern at the moment instead, he continued, remains the attitude of recalcitrant borrowers towards loan repayment.
The issue of the retail and the small scale having tangible or valuable collateral has been resolved.
He noted that with this, young people and fresh employees access loans with ease to acquire household items within a short time, rather than the current situation where they save for months.
Continuing, he assured that “with the BVN, this has help in solving the problem of identity and the Banker’s Committee is working on building stronger capability into that. The capability that will enable us enforce very effective and tight credit control such that if a customer take a loan from Bank ‘A’ and abandoned and go to Bank ‘B’ to open account, with the BVN, such customer can be traced. If the customer is owing Bank ‘A’, N1m and go to Bank ‘B’ to open an account and deposit N2m, electronically the system will recover the money from the debtor.
“We believe this will help drive descent behaviour and promote good credit behind.”
Onyeagwu said the Loan-To-Deposit Ratio policy aligns with the Zenith Bank’s strategy geared towards supporting Nigeria’s retail segment.
Just before sounding the ceremonial gong to declare trading closed for the day, Onyeagwu, who resumed office last month, had assured stockbrokers and newsmen that the group will continue to improve on its financial performance that would enhance returns on investment to shareholders.
This, he said is premised on the fact that Zenith Bank has a sustainable structure, strong legacy and outstanding pedigree set over the years under successive managements and boards, which the current leadership has a responsibility to sustain.
“We will do everything within us to elevate the strong value and the excellent performance that the bank has been known with,” he stressed, adding that his team will continue delivery of outstanding performance, reward for shareholders, while ensuring timely market disclose.
He paid tribute to the visionary leadership of Jim Ovia, the bank’s founding chief executive, now chairman, who laid the foundation for the emergence of a reputable financial institution with global acclaim, through the application of technology in offering premium services and creating unique value in the financial market.
The Zenith Bank boss allayed fears of competition, as his leadership team will explore collaborations where necessary to drive its services, even as he expressed optimism despite the economic headwinds and volatility at the domestic and global economy to deliver strong results.

Photo caption: Zenith Bank GMD/CEO, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, receiving a replica of the closing gong from the Oscar Onyema, chief executive of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Wednesday, when bank boss visited the exchange.

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