Even as the monarch said former Goodluck Jonathan could not be totally blamed for the nation’s current economic crisis, he sought support for President Buhari and expressed confidence in the Federal Government’s Economic Management Team led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to salvage the economy.
He spoke in Lagos during the unveiling of SunTrust Bank Limited, the first commercial bank to be licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 15 years.
Akiolu said, “All of us just have to support the President and I advise him to know that he is no more a military man. I am not afraid to say that. The measures they are taking on the rot of the past, honestly whether they like it or not, it was not totally the fault of former President Goodluck Jonathan. I don’t hide the fact that he (Jonathan) is my personal friend.”
The President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; Chairman, Forte Oil, Femi Otedola; and Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Danjuma Goje, were among top dignitaries that witnessed the unveiling of SunTrust Bank.
Dangote, who was a special guest of honour at the event, described as a bold move the decision by the Board of Directors and management of SunTrust Bank to open a new bank at a time the global banking industry and major economies were facing serious challenges.
The lack of growth in major economies, declining commodity prices, and weakness in the Nigerian economy, according to the Africa’s richest man, are some of the challenges facing today’s businesses.
He, however, noted that the challenges could be converted into opportunities by forward-looking and proactive companies and businessmen.
Dangote said this informed his decision to invest in Nigeria and other African countries and listed some of his ongoing investment projects in Lagos to include Africa’s largest fertliser plant with capacity for three million tonnes, and the world’s largest single line of refinery.
“These investments of ours are meant to open the entire economy, not just in Nigeria but the entire Africa. We also believe that this investment by SunTrust Bank will attract good rewards in the years to come.
“SunTrust Bank has a good business model that is based on financial technology, often regarded as FinTech. With their focus on FinTech, customers can transact business with them without leaving their homes,” he added
According to the business mogul, the SunTrust Bank’s model will attract millions into the financial system, noting that only 15 per cent of the country’s adult population is currently in the banking system.
While unveiling SunTrust Bank, Dangote said, “This is a very bold move; ladies and gentlemen, I present to you tomorrow’s bank today,”
Goje, who also lauded the board and management of the bank, expressed hope that the lender would enhance economic growth and development.
The Governor, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by the Branch Controller, Lagos State, Mr. J Iyari, advised the bank to create a niche for itself and comply with the rules and regulations guiding the banking sector.
The Chairman, Board of Directors, SunTrust Bank, Mr. Charles Ugboko, said the lender would give priority to excellent services.
He said banking had gone beyond large branch network and, as such, the lender would leverage technology to deliver superior and modern banking services to the people.
According to the Managing Director, SunTrust Bank, Mr. Muhammad Jibrin, the courage to fulfil any dream usually comes from passion.
As such, he said the board, management and staff of the bank were passionate about making a difference in the banking sector.
He said, “This is the first commercial banking licence in 15 years. We thank the CBN for counting us worthy of this licence; it is a privilege and not a right.”
Jibrin, who expressed gratitude to Dangote, Goje, and other eminent Nigerians at the event, said the bank was determined to make a huge difference in the financial services sector.
Other dignitaries at the event are: a former Chairman, Economic and Financial Services Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achebe; President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chief Nike Akande; a former Managing Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, Mr. Mustafa Chike-Obi, among others.