- With over 4.6 trillion naira loans to customers in Q3 2023, FirstBank is committed to economic growth and transformation.
At the dawn of the new year, it is natural for the Nigerian banking sector operators to anticipate dynamic shifts in regulations, increased digital innovations, and a focused approach toward sustainable growth and financial inclusion, while both the government and private sector eagerly anticipate the banking industry’s pivotal role in driving economic resilience, fostering innovation, ensuring regulatory compliance, and spearheading inclusive financial initiatives to bolster national development.
As a mark of readiness for the 2024 journey, the Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank of Nigeria Limited, the premier bank in Africa, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, in this interview with Festus Akanbi speaks on wide-ranging issues including how to insulate the Nigerian economy from the fallouts of the current hostilities at the international scene, the prevailing operating environment in Nigeria and the First Bank’s blueprint for optimum performance in 2024
The Federal Government borrowing in the 2024 budget is to increase from N6.3 trillion in 2023 to N7.8 trillion in 2024, with much of it coming from Nigerian banks. How will you allay the fear of a possible crowding out of the private sector from banks in the coming year?
Given the government’s current preference for local borrowings, I can understand where the fear of a possible crowding out of the private sector is emanating from. However, this does not necessarily have to be the case.
Over the years, Nigerian banks have sufficiently demonstrated their commitment to supporting the real sector of the economy. For example, as of H1 2023, the value of loans disbursed to customers by just seven Nigerian banks stood at almost NGN23 trillion. As of September 2023, FirstBank alone has grown its loan book to customers by over N1 trillion over the December 2022 closing position. This is a clear testament to FirstBank’s ongoing commitment to the growth of the Nigerian economy.
As bankers, we fully understand and have embraced our catalytic role as agents of economic transformation. In addition, banks deliberately pursue a diversified earning asset portfolio strategy. As such, lending to the real sector will continue to offer much-needed diversification for banks’ overall portfolio health.
In summary, I do not think the private sector has any need to worry as we will continue to support all sectors of the economy (including government) to realize their objectives.
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