The recent news which flew around in the e-media space about the purported sale of Polaris bank is quite laughable. Especially for a bank that has sustained its impact as a financial institution since 2018. The management of the Bank debunked the fake news that claimed the bank had been sold to an in-law of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida.
In a report on August 2, an online news platform claimed that the Central Bank of Nigeria is proceeding secretly but firmly to sell the bank to Babangida’s in-law, Auwal Lawan Abdullah for roughly N40 billion. The report queried the planned sale as it claimed the CBN had invested N1.2 trillion on it, since its 2018 nationalisation.
It further claimed the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele has already received a presidential approval to advance the sale, with public disclosure due any time soon unless backdoor objections grow stronger, the report claimed.
While available data from credible sources show that Polaris is not doing badly in its quarterly turnouts as a financial institution, a recent review of Polaris Bank’s yearly performance scorecard shows its improved profitability was driven by the combination of the significant reduction in interest expense due to the bank’s pursuit of low interest-bearing deposits as well as lowering impairment charges on loans and other financial assets.
Truly, in Nigeria, the reality of Covid-19 pandemic and its attendant worsening situation unleashed on Nigerians, has forced both public and private business endeavours to tune their operations to reflect the realities.
Consequently, banking operations have undergone a significant change. The reality is that the effects of the recent lockdown and the shrinkage of the economy have brought a significant change in the expectations of bank users, a development which is forcing operators to review their systems.
According to reports, this is because apart from the fallouts of the renewed efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria to protect depositors’ rights and ensure adherence to professional rules among banking operators, the harsh economic realities on the resources of potential depositors and customers have compelled banks to re-strategise in order to stay relevant.
However, Polaris Bank has proven to be one of the forward-thinking banks in history, as it continues to strengthen the capacity of its workforce to deliver excellence. It leverages on the Magic of Emotional Intelligence to promote the productivity of its staff while also impacting communities where it operates.
Polaris Bank Limited had its fair share of challenges, which came in different direction in its recent history. Apart from the reality of COVID-19 and its attendant challenges to banking, the board and management of Polaris Bank led by Innocent Ike, were also saddled with the responsibility of navigating from a transition from Skye Bank to its new brand in 2020. It was also in the course of 2019-2020 operation that its former chief executive officer, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru, threw in the towel in order to pursue his political ambition.
With Innocent Ike’s rich resume which he earned through hard work, he got the highly coveted acting MD and CEO of Polaris Bank. Upon his appointment in September 2020, he didn’t waste much time in the heat of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. He came up with incredible ideas that have sustained the bank’s relevance till date. Polaris Bank under his care has been competing favourably with other banks, leveraging on innovative banking models to ease stress and create an unwavering bond between the bank and customers.
The bank under Ike’s supervision, has however moved on with enough drive to attain the peak performance in banking, improving in technology to reshape its business landscape. This is what a forward-thinking organisation does, to strengthen its resolve.
In a statement, the bank described the speculative report as deliberate, with an intent to create panic.
In fact, when it comes to the modern banking industry across Africa, the Bank’s MD, Innocent C Ike is neither a greenhorn nor a pushover. He knows the banking business like the back of his hand.
Innocent Ike has garnered a wide range of experience as the executive director (Technology & Services) of the defunct SkyeBank Plc from July 2016 to the creation of Polaris Bank. He has been involved in developing and executing major corporate transformation and turnaround projects in the nation’s financial services industry. So, customers can be rest assured that the bank is in good hands.
Ike and his team have leveraged on a combination of in-depth industry knowledge and the application of relevant technologies and innovation.
A statement by his team reads in part: “Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.”
“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability.”
“Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders.”
“The Bank is committed to ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”
“The Board and Management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders.”
For a bank that has sustained profit growth over the years, consolidating its position as a focused institution, the next thing is not to sell its assets.
Its audited financial results for the year ended December 2020 posted a Profit Before Tax (PBT) of N28.9 billion. The results which show the Bank’s second year performance scorecard after two years of operation, further showed how the Bank is focused on the path of profitability, growth, and value creation.
No doubt, Polaris Bank has achieved significant milestones since its inception on September 21, 2018 when it started the new journey. The bank has since grown to earn the confidence of the banking public, offering quality banking services at the cutting edge of technology.
Each year has been arguably challenging, no doubt, however, the results of the bank demonstrates resilience and can-do spirit. The bank exhibits importance of the deployment of appropriate strategies, while it continues to effectively validate its recent investment in technology solutions and digitization of its limitless services.
Observers say the fake news might be the work of Innocent Ike’s detractors that sneered at him in the beginning. Their patient wait for him to fail has always proved abortive, as he proves their every move wrong with his undoubted dedication, prayers and will to succeed.
Olamide Adeniji is a member of the editorial team of TheScript Newspapers