By our reporter/ The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday said that the right things will be done regarding the shareholding tussle at First Bank of Nigeria.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele who gave the assurance while speaking with journalists at the end of the monetary policy committee’s two-day meeting at the CBN headquarters in Abuja, however, noted that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the capital market regulator is responsible for issues relating to shareholding.
“As it affects the running and operations of the bank, we (CBN) will take preeminence in ensuring that the right things are done,” Emefiele said.
According to him, First bank is very relevant to the Nigerian banking sector because it is the oldest bank in the country — it was established in 1894.
He expressed happiness that citizens are in a scramble to acquire First Bank’s shares.
“First Bank remains the oldest bank in Nigeria. It is the most aggressively domestically important bank in Nigeria,” Emefiele said.
“If anything happens to First Bank, it means something has happened to the Nigerian banking system. That is why we are taking our guidance about how to get the bank afoot seriously.
“Six years ago, like I said, because of an aggressive buildup of non- performing loans, the share price of First Bank was about N2. We took it up. Then, everybody was running away from the shares of First Bank
“We have cleaned the balance sheet now, people are seeing that the money making machine, First Bank, is back on its feet. They are on the race for profitability. They are now competing for the shares of First Bank. Why should I quarrel about that? I am happy to see that they are competing for the shares.
“Naturally, returns are sent to CBN about individual shareholder. And of course, if our position is not in tandem with that of SEC, we will talk to SEC about it.
“So far, I think we should take the position of SEC as the regulator of the capital market because regulating share price and ownership is the sole responsibility of SEC.
“We would not want to override SEC on these issues but we will continue to work with them. We have a very good relationship with them.”