I arrived Bank of Industry, BOI with 25 years of fast-paced experience gained from reputable institutions such as KPMG, Guaranty Trust Bank, GTBank, Ecobank, Universal Trust Bank (acquired by Union Bank), United Bank for Africa, UBA Group and Heirs Holdings. I had run the largest Strategic Business Group in UBA successfully and led the regional expansion of UBA into 18 African countries. I had acquired a reputation for efficient execution, for getting things done and for being ethical. The then Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, acknowledged this much during our pre-appointment meeting. He conducted background checks!
The situation at BOI on 19th of May 2014, the day I assumed duties increased the level of my anxiety. The financial statements of accounts for April 2014 were not available. Worse still, the accounts for March 2014 were still being finalized; that’s two clear months behind schedule. That’s equivalent to flying blind, going by the standards in the private sector. I had become accustomed to having the numbers within days of month-end at UBA Group, where I had been for eight years. I believe that accurate and up-to-date information is very essential for sound decision-making.
Meetings with the bank’s executive committee members, the Human Resources Management revealed to me that some of the executive committee members were highly qualified, but they only require the right kind of leadership. Within days of assumption, I had what you can describe as a rough “Current Position Assessment”: Fairly good management staff, weak governance structure, lack of strategic direction, the lending process was lengthy, unwieldy and grossly inefficient, there were lots of customer complaints, especially by SMEs, the bank’s non-performing loan (NPL) ratio was very high at 18% (the maximum ratio for development banks was set at 5% by the Central Bank of Nigeria) and the bank’s liquidity position was so tight that some previously approved loans were being disbursed in tranches.
The starting point was to mobilize all the staff to rally behind a set of vision and mission statements, which are noble enough to get everyone motivated. We hired KPMG Professional Services, who conducted a comprehensive diagnostic review following which strategic retreats were organized and by the end of 2014, a robust five-year Strategic Plan 2015-2019 was developed. Our Vision was to be the most impactful development bank in Africa. We organized all our strategic initiatives along two broad objectives: (1) to make significant developmental Impact on Nigeria’s Real Sectors (by funding industrial projects and SMEs) and (2) to adopt Global best practices in Risk Management, Operations, Human Resources, Finance, etc.
We developed a new set of core values with the acronym SPPIRIT: S for Service, P for Professionalism, P for Passion, I for Integrity, R for Resourcefulness, I for Innovation and T for Team work. (Note: By Resourcefulness, we meant the ability to do more with less, not just throwing money at problems, but being creative with problem-solving).
The Board of Directors (with institutional representatives from Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria) was very supportive. The Chairman, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu was exceptional in his leadership of the board.
With the strategy and governance framework in place, we restructured the bank along the key industrial sectors (Agro Processing, Petrochemicals, Solid Minerals and Light Manufacturing) identified in the Nigeria Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), which had been launched in early 2014 by President Goodluck Jonathan. The NIRP had been developed in response to a report released by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) titled “Making the Most of Africa’s Commodities” released in 2013 and the UN Growth Commission Report 2008, to which the former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, was a signatory.
Although we had executives with adequate experience in agro-processing, energy, and manufacturing, we didn’t have the required capacity to drive our activities in the solid mineral sector. Therefore, we organized a focused training session on mining for all management staff and followed this up with an international solid minerals seminar with speakers from Sierra Leone (the CEO of Sierra Rutile, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange) and South Africa (the Director of Mining Division at the Industrial Development Corporation). We sponsored our Group Head, Solid Minerals to attend the Mining Indaba in South Africa in 2015. The Mining Indaba is the biggest annual mining event in Africa with attendance from over 100 countries. This exposure was very instrumental to our subsequent forays in the mining sector.
From experience, whenever wholesale and retail businesses are combined in a department, the retail business tends to suffer neglect. Large industrial projects and SMEs were being served in a single directorate, and as a result, the SMEs were suffering. This was the rationale for creating a separate SME directorate in late 2014, to cater for the growing needs of SMEs, which constitute an important segment of the Nigerian economy. Waheed Olagunju, who had been ED-Business Development, was reassigned as ED-SMEs, a role which, I believe, prepared him very well for his current role as Acting MD, which he has so far discharged effectively, in my opinion…
By Rasheed Olaoluwa