SEPLAT wins five awards at PEARL, NAPE

Austin Avuru
Austin Avuru

Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, leading Nigerian independent oil and gas company listed both on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange, emerged the overall winner of the 2019 Pearl Awards, clinching four awards, which is designed to celebrate excellence and its leadership in the Nigerian capital market.

The company also won the Best Indigenous Exhibitor award at the just concluded 37th Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE)’s Annual International Conference and Exhibition held in Lagos.

At the PEARL Awards which was attended by regulators, leaders and key stakeholders in the capital market, Seplat achieved the feat of emerging the “PEARL” back-to-back (2018 and 2019), which was a notable feat.

The award was presented to the Seplat’s management by the Chairman of the Board of the Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC), Mr. Olufemi Lijadu, and Ms Mary Uduk, the Acting Director-General of SEC, supported by Dr Farouk Umar, Chairman of the PEARL Awards Board.

Apart from winning the overall PEARL Awards for 2019, SEPLAT also clinched three (3) other awards: Sectoral Awards for the Oil and Gas Segment, Highest Net Ratio Award; and its Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Austin avuru emerging as the CEO of the Year.

Dr. Umar, the Chairman of the Board of Pearl Awards, in his address, pointed out that the awards was an avenue for encouraging development of the capital market, and praised the Federal Government for supporting the market.

The President of Pearl Awards, Mr. Tayo Orekoya, speaking on the theme of the 2019 edition: “Celebrating Sustainable Leadership & Resilience” said the event was recognising leaders who represent beacons of hope for the capital market.

Orekoya said that on the threshold of a quarter of a century celebrations, PEARL awards has recognised and rewarded over 85 quoted Nigerian companies for outstanding operational and stock performance with eighteen (18) emerging as the overall highest awards winners of the stock market at different times.

He said: “The PEARL Awards remains the only awards in Nigeria that rewards outstanding performance of quoted companies in the Nigerian capital market based on verifiable facts and figures.

The Acting Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms Uduk commended the PEARL Awards team for its legacy of driving excellence and competitiveness in the capital market.

She assured stakeholders of the continued support of the Apex regulator for efforts towards rewarding hardwork, dedication, ingenuity and excellence in the capital market.

Mr. Lijadu, Chairman of the Board of SEC Nigeria, commended Seplat for its strict adherence to good corporate governance ethos, while thanking PEARL Award for evolving for over two decades and remaining consistent in its drive to support the growth of the capital market.

The management of Seplat thanked the organisers of PEARL Awards and NAPE for the recognition and expressed the company’s commitment to global best practices in the oil and gas sector.

DBN Trains Executives of Microfinance Banks

Tony Opanachi
Tony Opanachi

The Development Bank of Nigeria as part of its advocacy initiative recently held a capacity-building programme on Environmental & Social Risk Management practice for top executives of Microfinance Banks recently in Lagos.

Giving his opening remarks, the Managing Director, Development Bank of Nigeria, Tony Okpanachi represented by the Chief Operating Officer, Bonaventure Okhaimo, said “in fulfilling our mandate of increasing access, Development Bank of Nigeria Plc is poised to not only be change drivers but be a strong ally partnering with participating financing institutions to drive sustainable development by ensuring that lending is done with the interest of the environment and social wellbeing of the people”.

He stated that this workshop was a follow up on the feed back received at an earlier training organized in 2018 for middle level managers of MFBs by DBN and charged participants as the leaders of their institutions, to take advantage of the lessons from these workshops to ensure improved compliance as well as best practice in environmental and social risk management principles.

The session highlighted strategies on identification, measurement, and mitigation of Environmental and Social Risks in project financing, from policy and strategic point of view. It also exposed participants to measures of developing Environmental & Social Risk footprints in areas of resource efficiency, reducing carbon emission and other sustainable banking initiatives.

Participants comprising of CEOs and top executives of leading Microfinance Banks in Nigeria expressed their gratitude to DBN for granting them the opportunity to be part of this timely initiative that is designed to upscale MFBs in operationalizing the requirements of Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP). They also pledged that they will inculcate in their various organizations the strategies and concepts to influence policies and changes that would not only encourage a renewed level of compliance with NSBP but also promote strong corporate governance and responsible banking practices.

The Development Bank of Nigeria has so far on-boarded 27 participating financial institutions and disbursed over N100,000 billion to more than 95,000 MSMEs in Nigeria since the commencement of its operations in 2017.



Q3 2019 : Ecobank, Standard Chartered Lead In Capital Importation To Nigerian Economy 


National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says Ecobank Nigeria and the local unit of Standard Chartered Bank have joined Stanbic IBTC Bank to become foreign investors’ favourites for investment deals.

Details of the Bureau report showed that out of 26 banks foreign investors used to deploy foreign capital into the country, the most investment came through Stanbic IBTC Bank. The bank attracted $1.63 billion worth of investment in the third quarter of this year, lower than $1.76 billion it had in the previous quarter.

Ecobank followed with $754.38 million worth of foreign investment, while Standard Chartered Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of UK-based Standard Chartered Bank occupied the third position by attracting $502.47 million inflows. Access Bank got $477.55 million; Rand Merchant Bank, $430.15 million; Citibank Nigeria Limited; $350.95 million; while First Bank of Nigeria had $307.94 million.

According to NBS, while the total value of capital importation into the Nigerian economy fell by 7.78 percent to $5.36 billion in the third quarter of 2019 from the previous quarter, Ecobank Nigeria attracted $754.38 million worth of foreign investment, representing 55.41 percent more capital thus making the bank foreign investors’ favourites for investment deals.

Commenting, Adetokunbo Uko, Country Treasurer, Ecobank Nigeria, said the Bank was leveraging on its pan-African strategy to attract capital to the nation’s economy, stressing that the Bank remains committed to increasing capital flows to Nigerian financial market.

According to her, “As a gateway to the African market for foreign direct and portfolio investments, Ecobank Nigeria is  leveraging on its Pan-African platform, people and products to contribute to the financial and economic development of Nigeria through provisions of foreign exchange solutions and fixed income products to local and foreign customers.” “We remain committed to our African strategy, to increase capital flows to Nigerian financial market through enhanced product offerings, good customer experience and transparency in all transactions”

She restated the Bank’s commitment  to redouble its efforts on all fronts to remain foreign investors’ favourite for investment deals and also claim its rightful position in the industry.


Financial Inclusion: Heritage Bank empowers 2000 female entrepreneurs


Heritage Bank Plc has empowered over 2000 female entrepreneurs towards economic enablement and self-realization through its financial inclusivity initiatives

This move according to the bank is in consideration of the importance of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to the economy and in line with the people-oriented policies of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Heritage Bank Plc is partnering with a Non-Governmental Organization, Prime Women Builders Foundation of Nigeria (PWOBFON) in providing skills training to the female entrepreneurs.

At the graduation/ certificate award ceremony held at  Ikeja Local Government headquarters over the weekend, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, Ifie Sekibo said the bank is keen in cultivating real partnerships with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Sekibo, who was represented by the Head, Brand Management & Sustainability Ozena Utulu explained that the lender is interested in initiatives that encourage people to start their own businesses and gradually grow them into conglomerates.

According to him, the partnership with PWOBFON is vital in many ways particularly in the area of job creation, economic empowerment and financial inclusion.

His words:  “apart from skills training, the women have been told the importance of record keeping in business, savings culture and the benefits of having bank accounts as a gateway to accessing other financial services.”

He said Heritage Bank has been a leading Nigerian bank with an excellent service culture hinged on working with each customer to create a name, wealth and heritage.

Also speaking, President/Convener Prime women Builders Foundation of Nigeria, Kemi Olofinkua applauded the bank for its support, and urged other corporate organizations to take a cue from the lender in supporting grassroots women empowerment.

She explained that through the support from the Heritage Bank and the Ikeja Local government, the women, based on their choices, have been equipped with 15 vocational skills covering event decoration, small chops making, baking, pastries, bead making, computer training , soap making, makeup, tailoring, digital marketing, Photography, hairdressing among others.

To underscore the importance of women empowerment, the CBN had earlier set aside 60 per cent of its N220 billion MSMED Fund for providing financial services to women.

According to Olofinkua, this training is important because when women are positively occupied, the level of poverty will reduce and great achievements will be recorded not only on the home front, but on several sectors of “our national life.”

“Heritage Bank has been very supportive and our desire is to see participants of PWOBFON Empowerment Day, doing great in their various vocations. Each and every one of us must deliberately find something to occupy us and bring good profit. There are lots of vocations that each and every one of us can excel in; so that we will not be frustrated along the part of life,” Olofinkua stated.

The executive chairman, Ikeja Local Government Development Council, Dr. Mojeed Alabi Balogun, represented by his vice, Yomi Mayungba said the local government is interested in the initiative because it is in line with its grassroots skills training program . According to him, this is a way of keeping not only women, but men also out of the streets.

He disclosed that the first batch of trainees started from Ikeja and this is the 10th year anniversary. “The local government is delighted to partner with the NGO, Heritage Bank and other interested parties,” Balogun said.

SEC Suspends Multiple Accounts Regularisation Indefinitely


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says the deadline for regularisation earlier stipulated for shareholders that used different names to purchase of shares now stands suspended.

This was part of the outcome of the third Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting that held in Lagos, weekend.

Acting Director General of SEC, Ms Mary Uduk who made the disclosure to the press said this measure is to enable shareholders that are having challenges with their details to come up and regularize their holdings, noting that, the commission has discovered that some shareholders are avoiding it due to the fear of prosecution.

According to her, “the Multiple Subscription Committee presented the status of its ongoing engagement with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Committee of Heads of Banking Operation to display multiple accounts regularization banners in the banking halls all over the country. The Committee also reported that CMOs have commenced the filing of report on regularized accounts with the Commission, on a quarterly basis. Given the relevance of this exercise and the need to create more awareness, the Committee requested for an extension of the deadline of multiple accounts regularization”.

“We are keeping it open for now with no deadline. We are also encouraging investors to take advantage of this to regularise their accounts and claim their dividends”.

Uduk explained that other resolutions that were reached at the meeting include, “Registrars are to discontinue the practice of requesting for confirmation of bank confirmation during the e-DMMS process. CMOs are to display awareness campaign banners of e-DMMS at their offices and Venue of Annual General Meetings (AGM). Capital market operators should also work with the Commission to share awareness information on their social media platforms”

She said the commission also reviewed the request from the Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON) for extension of time for compliance on the transfer of complete investor data among operators such as Brokers, Registrars and CSCS, adding that upon completion, the position of the Commission will be communicated to the relevant parties.

Determined to deepen liquidity in the nation’s bourse, the SEC said it is engaging the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on securities lending. Ms Mary Uduk, SEC acting Director-General, disclosed this at the third quarter post-Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting news conference on Friday in Lagos.

Uduk said that the commission was engaging PENCOM on modalities that would permit Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) to participate in Securities Lending. Securities lending is the act of loaning a stock, derivative or other security to an investor or firm.

Securities lending requires the borrower to put up collateral, whether cash, security or a letter of credit.“We have been engaging not only PENCOM but all local institutional investors that have substantial holding of equities and the essence of having this securities lending is to actually deepen our market.

“All of us are contributing to our own pension accounts and these PFAs are buying equities.“What they do is to buy and hold, they don’t sell and they hold it, so the essence of securities lending is now to give room for them to make money and so that the money will now add up to their own contribution fund.“We have a framework which has been approved and we are encouraging the market to go into self lending by meeting these institutional investors.

“Pension is the highest institutional investor in our market, they will now lend out these securities and when they lend out, it will be credited back to the pension fund account.“At the end of the contract, they will get their securities back.“Instead of holding the securities, they are making money out of it; that is the essence.

“So, we are engaging PENCOM to see it as an investment opportunity, and they have bought into the idea.“We are discussing to see how they can be able to come up with their guideline based on their provision of the Act to allow securitues lending to take place.

“In addition, we are engaging another institutional investor, AMCON.“It is a holistic approach to have a win win situation in our market,” Uduk said

Speaking on e-Dividend Mandate Management System (e-DMMS) introduced to curb unclaimed dividends, Uduk said that a total of 2.82 million had enrolled into the platform at the end of third quarter 2019.

She said that registrars had been directed to discontinue the practice of requesting for confirmation of bank signature during the E-DMMS process to tackle unclaimed dividends.

Uduk said that capital market operators were to display awareness campaign banners of e-DMMS at their offices and venue of Annual General Meetings (AGM).

She stated that the Non-interest Finance Committee presented the importance of granting the PFAs the permission to invest a given percentage of a willing contributor’s Retirement Savings Accounts in Non-Interest capital market products.

Heritage Bank celebrates International Men’s Day


In recognition of the important role of men in the society , Heritage Bank  Plc recently celebrated  International Men’s Day 2019 themed: “Making a difference for Men and Boys”, with event held at every Experience Centres- ECs (branches) of the bank across the country.

The financial institution leveraged on this theme and coined a personal theme, which is “Break the Ice; Inspire another Man”.

To help chart a path that will champion gender parity in grand style, the male staff had engaging activities which include a men’s bonding/mentorship session with various appealing subject of discussions in the ECs, where the senior colleagues initiated the talks alongside other male staff contributed freely to break into the parity ice; pry into how to excel in their homes, career, mental health, politics, family, education, sports and other endeavours of life. Also, as part of the activities are a themed dressing for the men (Club Jerseys or Polo Shirts on Jeans or Beige Chinos) and a celebration of the men by their female colleagues.

Commemorating the International Men’s Day celebrated annually in various countries around the world, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo emphasized that its serves as an opportunity to highlight the issues affecting the male gender and to also appreciate the men around us.

“At the core of our services, we recognise the need for gender equality. As we know that International Women’s Day is observed on 8 March globally. In the same way, there is a day for Men’s on 19th Novembers, which is also observed worldwide. This day highlight the positive difference that men bring to the world, communities and to their families. It also raises awareness about men’s well-being and issues that men face on a global scale,” he explained.

Addressing the Management and staff of the institution, Sekibo who recognised the immense contributions of the male counterparts, noted, “we are proud to affirm that having you men in different capacities working to imbed a difference in this organization have proved you worthy to be celebrated.

“Strong yet supportive, tough yet so kind…You sacrifice all your life for the family to bring a smile on their faces…You toil in the office just to support your colleagues and the organization.”

He, however, assured the staff, “we also understand that having a family and a career can be a balancing act and strive to support all our staff to ensure that each person is able to reach their full career potential while maintaining a good work-life balance. Maintaining a fulfilled workforce is important to us, whilst we conversely ensure that all our clients have the best possible experience.

“So, here’s a special thank you to all our male brilliant staff who are helping to create a more gender-inclusive world.”

Heritage bank did not fail to celebrate its loyal male customers with the bank helmsman, Sekibo via deploying special messages acknowledged their positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, childcare and to the environment. 


NACCIMA Advises SMEs To Tap Into NEG For Enhanced Business


The National President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Hajiya Saratu Iya-aliyu, has urged newly inducted members into the NACCIMA Export Group (NEG), to leverage on the opportunities provided by the group to enhance their competiveness in the international market.

Iya-aliyu made this known in a speech at the induction of new members and Annual General Meeting (AGM) of NEG with theme: “Export Challenges in an Emerging Economy – Nigeria Peculiarities And Survival”.

While commending the courage of the new members’ to join the coveted register of NEG, she said , “we are glad that new members chose to become registered member of NEG, please be rest assured that you have made the right decision to become a member of one of the vibrant groups in NACCIMA”.

Also, saluting the efforts of Barrister Kola Awe, Chairman, NEG and his executives in piloting the affairs of the group, Iya-aliyu reminded the new members that the main objective of NEG is quite clear; to strategise on the best networks by which exporters can take full advantage of the opportunities available in this country, while also advocating for a conducive environment for these opportunities.

Some of the benefits they stand to get she said include partnership with the federal government through NACCIMA, the organisation of seminars and workshops for members to benefit, organisation of and participation at trade fairs locally and internationally, the dissemination of information to members etc.

Similarly, Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni, Director-general, NACCIMA, who represented Iya-aliyu at the event, tasked the new members tto endeavour to conform to international standards to enhance their product’s chances of competing in the world market.

Olukanni said, “ for us to take advantage of the huge market out there, we have to learn, we have to have the capacity, that is why I think this programme is indeed very,  very good”.

Earlier in his welcome address, Awe made it clear to members that, “no matter how much we can do by ourselves on the national level, whether it is research or development, it will never be enough. It is the spirit of true cooperation joined with an action-oriented effort that can solve the problems that beset export development in Nigeria and Africa as a whole”.

Presentations were also made by resource persons from organisations like Cargo Defence Fund Shippers Council; Barcode G1; NIRSAL Bank; FCMB Bank and Zenith Bank, where they explained to NEG members the different ways they could access funds for running their businesses.

Access Bank Appoints Dr. (Mrs.) Ajoritsedere Awosika MFR New Chairman


The Board of Directors of Access Bank Plc has announced that its Chairman, Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga will be retiring in January 2020 following the completion of her maximum 12- year term limit allowed by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Code of Corporate Governance for Banks and Discount Houses. Mrs Belo-Olusoga became the Chairman of the Board in July 2015.

To lead the Board in the next phase of the Bank’s transformation into becoming Africa’s Gateway to the World, Dr. (Mrs) Ajoritsedere Awosika, MFR has been appointed Chairman of the Bank replacing Mrs Belo-Olusoga who steps down on January 8, 2020.

Dr. Awosika joined the Board in April 2013 as an Independent Non-Executive Director and has been the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board Credit and Finance Committee and the Board Audit Committee respectively in addition to membership of other Board Committees.

She is an accomplished administrator with over three decades experience in public sector governance. She was at various times, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministries of Internal Affairs, Science & Technology and Power.

Dr. Awosika is a fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria and the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacy. She holds a Doctorate degree in Pharmaceutical Technology from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.

She is the Chairman of Chams Plc and Josephine Consulting Limited and a Non-Executive Director of Capital Express Assurance Ltd.

A statement signed by the company secretary, Sunday Ekwochi expressed the Board’s  appreciation to Mrs. Belo-Olusoga for her contributions to the Bank’s transformational growth and wished Dr (Mrs.) Awosika success in her new appointment.

ABCON Canvass For Downward Review of Exchange Rate

Aminu Gwadabe -President ABCONAminu Gwadabe -President ABCON
Aminu Gwadabe -President ABCON

The volatility in the exchange rate of the naira to other foreign currencies often associated with the yuletide season is not likely to be witnessed this year, so says Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON)

Alhaji Gwadabe who stated this in a chart with BusinessUpdate expressed optimism that the naira exchange rate will neither be affected by the influx of dollars from diaspora remittances nor will it be affected by outflows from such obligations as  payment of school fees and similar other expenses.

The ABCON president made this declaration against apprehension in some quarters that demand for foreign exchange from Nigerians for businesses and foreign trips as well as inflows from diaspora remittance is likely to upturn the current trend of stability in the forex market.

According to him, this development is not likely to affect the market rates in any way “I do not see anything that will affect the market or alter the rate significantly”

He argued that the market had enjoyed relative stability over the last 30 months and as such is not likely to witness any major upset this season.

The ABCON boss stated that “while I do not foresee any rate hike, the authorities should reduce the rate further”. He insisted that the relative stability that has pervaded the market over the last couple of years has made it imperative for a downward adjustment in the exchange rate.

While calling on the authorities to effect a reduction or downward review of the exchange rate expressed the view that it will further enhance the rates stability that has been enjoyed at least in the last 30 months.

ABCON as an association has remained a major catalyst in ensuring price stability in the nation’s foreign exchange market. The association was formed to enhance ease of accessibility of FOREX to Nigerians at very reasonable pricing.

As members of ABCON, Bureau De Change (BDC) operators facilitate funds transfer to all parts of the world for a number of reasons to carry out legitimate business to fund educational pursuits, to facilitate health concerns, help in the purchase of travellers’’ and other legitimate businesses

Established on the 4th of February 1997, the association has been consistent in upholding and creating an environment of sanctity in the business of foreign exchange.

SEPLAT Petroleum Development Company Plc Announces Roger Brown As New CEO.

Roger Browncover

Seplat Petroleum Development Company PLC (“SEPLAT”) has announced that her pioneer Managing Director and later CEO, Mr. Austin Avuru will be retiring in July 2020 after 10 years of leading the company.

In these 10 years, Mr. Avuru led the development of a strong organization, the deployment of agile systems, processes and stakeholder relationships that allowed the organization to grow rapidly from a gross production of 22,700boepd as at December 2010 to peaks of 111,368boepd gross production as at December 2018 through major drilling campaigns and major new Oil and Gas plants development.

The acquisition of 45% of OML 53, post Company’s IPO of 2014, created an opportunity in partnership with NNPC, to spawn a mid-stream subsidiary, ANOH Gas Processing Company Ltd currently progressing what will ultimately be a 300MMscf/d of Gas, 22,500bdp of condensate and 1,200boepd of LPG processing Company. All these could not have been achieved without Mr. Avuru’s leadership skills, personal dedication and hard work, at the head of the Company.

The Board of SEPLAT is grateful to Mr. Avuru for these accomplishments and is looking forward to his continued service at the Board level.

Looking forward, Seplat plans to position itself for a next phase growth ambition which would see the expansion of its footprint in terms of energy business activities, a plan to pursue offshore assets as well as opportunity driven entry into different geographies. The Company believes that such a corporate transition would require a different kind of organizational structure, people skills set and mentality to compete well in the expanded space. In view of this, Seplat will be reviewing its current organizational and systems structure.

To lead the Company in her latest aspirations, the Board has selected Mr. Roger Brown as the successor to Mr. Avuru as CEO, when Mr. Avuru steps down on 31 July 2020. The Board also decided that the CEO designate will lead the restructuring during the Transition period between now and final exit date of Mr. Avuru on 31 July 2020.

Mr. Brown joined SEPLAT in 2013 as the CFO and played a key role in the successful dual listing of the Company in 2014.  Similarly, since joining the Company, he has played significant roles in various asset acquisitions by the Company.

Mr. Brown brings to the CEO role, a deep knowledge of the Company in his 6 years as the CFO and a member of the Board.  He has strong financial, commercial and M&A experience as well as proven people skills which will be an asset as the Company embarks on the next phase of its growth plan.

Prior to joining SEPLAT, Mr. Brown was an advisor to the Company since 2010 while he was the Managing Director and head of EMEA Oil and Gas at Standard Bank Group.  During his time at the bank, he was instrumental in providing advice and deploying capital across the African continent in the Oil & Gas, Power & Infrastructure and the renewable energy sectors.

While we thank Mr. Avuru for a meritorious service, we welcome Mr. Brown and wish him every success in his upcoming new role.