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First Bank Posts N218bn Gross Earnings

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First Bank of Nigeria Plc, the West African nation’s largest lender, has post N218 billion gross earning at the end of 2008 financial year.

However, Net income dropped to 12.6 billion naira ($85.2 million) in the 12 months through March, from 36.7 billion naira a year earlier, the Lagos-based bank said in a statement distributed by the Nigerian Stock Exchange recently. Revenue climbed 40 per cent to 218.3 billion naira, it said.

The decline in project was a result of the ‘diminution in value of investments occasioned by the situation in the capital market,” the company said in the statement. It didn’t elaborate.

First Bank’s result come after Eurasia Group, a New York-based research Company, said in May that banks in Nigeria may have as much as $10 billion of toxic assets. The bad debt is partly the result of at least 1 trillion naira ($6.8 billion) of so-called margin loans used by speculators to buy shares as equities soared almost 13-fold since 2000, according to Bank of America Corp Nigeria’s All Share Index tumbled 70 per cent in 12 months through March.

First Bank shares advanced the daily limit of 5 per cent to 21 naira on the bourse today. The company declared a dividend of 1.35 naira per share and said it will award one bonus for every six held.

Commenting on the results, Stephen Olabisi Onasanya, Group Managing Director of First Bank said, “Despite the challenging market conditions, First Bank continues to capitalize on its well established value chain in Nigeria’s financial services sector and has achieved another year of strong organic revenue growth.

Recognition of the bank as one of the strongest and most dependable banks in Nigeria, especially in a time of global downturn, has driven considerable growth in our deposit base, with the total group’s deposit liabilities increasing by 71 per cent to N1.2 trillion. Furthermore, strong year-on-year growth was recorded across all business lines. This is a fantastic achievement and First Bank is well positioned to continue to grow its asset base supported by a sustained robust capital position with a strong capital adequacy ratio of 24.69 per cent and stable funding.

“Going forward, our growth aspirations will be driven by our commitment to attain the full benefits of scale and scope by accelerating growth and diversification of assets, revenue and profit. At the strategic level, we have identified three pillars that we believe are integral to our objective: they are acceleration of growth by diversification of assets, revenue and profit; service and operation excellence via a single-minded commitment to operational excellence; the design of appropriate institutional processes, system and capabilities necessary to deliver world class service levels; performance management and people to deliver unmatched results by creating a performance culture with clear individual accountability at all levels as the foundation of what we shall be doing over the medium-term.

“There is no doubt that the trajectory going forward would encounter pockets of turbulence. Within this prognosis, our challenge at First Bank is to build positive momentum around these three pillars and to build on our progress to date”.

Mr Boye Adebayo, acting MD of the Group’s mortgage banking subsidiary commented that, “First Bank’s mortgage business was underpinned by significant income growth from property trading and development in 2008 as our continued IT and HR initiatives enabled us to maintain our competitive edge and grow market share.

This resulted in a 70 per cent rise of our profit before tax for the year. Growth in the medium term will, however depend on a clear focus on servicing the middle market, which we believe will be indispensable.

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More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining

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As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’ 
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth. 
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.

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Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project   -Akawor

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The  PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them. 
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.

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PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations

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Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations. 
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.

Stories by Corlins Walter

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