Nigeria’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has said that First Bank of Nigeria is a big part of the the country’s banking system and cannot be under any threat of failure.
Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the apex bank’s governor who stated this at the Monetary Policy Committee meeting held today, Tuesday, said he is pleased that investors are showing interest in First Bank’s shares.
Emefiele noted that one person cannot own First Bank and the major shareholders should see themselves as representatives of other shareholders.
“Remember that First Bank was established in 1894 and is the oldest bank in Nigeria. It is a powerful domestically significant bank in Nigeria,” Emefiele said.
“If anything happens to First Bank, it means that something has gone wrong with the Nigerian banking system. And it is for this reason that we are taking advice on how to keep the bank afloat very seriously,
The governor noted that the First Bank’s success was linked to the timely intervention of the apex bank.
“Six years ago, as a result of the accumulation of non-performing loans on the books of First Bank, the fair value of the share price was approximately N2 per share, and we took it on while everyone else was fleeing. Because we have cleaned up the balance sheet, non-performing loans have dropped dramatically. People are seeing that First Bank is returning to profitability and are now competing for a stake in the company,” he said.
“Why should I argue that people are competing for the shares of First Bank, which was N2 six years ago and they fled from it? Now, the last time I looked at First Bank’s share price, it was N11.55kobo over the weekend. I am pleased to see that they are competing for First Bank shares. Of course, we all know that First Bank is so large that no single person can own it. In running the banks, they should see themselves as representing others.”