First Bank Plc., one of the leading banks in Nigerian financial sector is embroiled in miss-management and internal crisis that could disintegrate the bank if proper actions are not taken urgently.
According to findings, the confusion rocking the bank is connected to billionaire philanthropist and Chairman of Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko, who is reportedly indebted to First bank to the tune of N75billion and tries to write it off by allegedly projecting his son, Obafemi, as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the bank.
Meganews.com.ng learnt that the controversial businessman is allegedly scheming to win over the control of the bank and positioning his son to possibly take over the mantle of leadership of the bank.
The alleged loan, which was dubiously acquired about 7 years ago with his status as the Chairman of the bank, has remained un-serviced till date, an insider claimed, stating that non-performing loan is currently putting the bank and its management in tension as the economic hardship facing the country bites harder on all financial institutions.
To cover up for his indebtedness to First bank, Otudeko was said to have installed one of his sons, Obafemi Otudeko, as a non-executive director in the bank. It was reliably learnt that more pressure is now on the Managing Director of the bank, Adesola Adeduntan to take a drastic step against his chairman over the non-performing loan.
The alleged loan has gotten to the ears of a human rights group, the Social and Economic Rights Derivatives Centre, and strongly-worded petition has been sent to various governmental agencies and the National Assembly, asking the management of First bank to explain how a number of multi-billion naira loans is not reflecting on the bank’s financial records anymore.
Specifically, the group called for the investigation of Otudeko for allegedly obtaining a N29 billion facility from the bank through FBN Trustees, which he claimed was written off without the knowledge and consent of the bank’s shareholders.
It would be recall, late businessman; Aare Arisekola was the largest shareholder in the bank. But before his death, he sold his shares to Oba Otudeko, who has the second largest stake in the bank.
How this scheming and politics will play out, is not yet known, but industrial experts are of the opinion that such action, which may have cost the bank its leading position as Zenith Bank Plc., emerged the biggest bank in Nigeria with First band coming second in the recent rating.
They noted that First Bank which prides itself as “Truly The First Bank” is now the second bank, warning that the financial giant could collapse if nothing drastic is done to arrest the situation, which is bound to cause a stroke to Nigerian biggest elephant.
It will be recalled that Otudeko is in court with Ecobank over an alleged N5.5billion loan availed Honeywell Flour Mills Plc., Siloam Global Services Limited and Anchorage Leisures Limited, which he personally guaranteed.
So, disgruntled was Ecobank’s management that it recently sought a receiving order against Otudeko’s estate, funds, investment and shares in Honeywell Group, Honeywell Flour Mills, among other companies, as well as an order declaring him bankrupt.
However, all efforts made to speak with Corporate Affairs of the First Bank failed as neither SMS nor mails sent were responded to as at press time.