A new recharge offer tagged “Glo Amebo” has been unveiled by National telecommunications company, Globacom.
“Glo Amebo” gives subscribers the opportunity to talk more by giving them five times the value of whatever amount they spend on recharge.
A subscriber who recharges N500 will get N2,500, while a recharge of N1, 000 will give N5,000 value which the subscribers can use to call all networks to transact business, share information as well as undertake other daily endeavours.
The Glo “Amebo” offer underscores the unlimited power being given to subscribers to talk endlessly on their phone. Amebo was a popular character in the defunct NTA network sitcom “Village Headmaster”. The role which was played by veteran actress, Ibidun Allison, who specialized in gossiping about people, especially in her palm wine joint.
The “Glo Amebo” recharge is being popularized by the recently unveiled Glo star-studded TVC “We got people talking”, a re-packaged version featuring West African music and movie stars. The theme song was first released by Globacom in 2010.
In 2003, Globacom pioneered Per Second Billing and had over the years, consistently brought innovation, quality service delivery and unequalled benefits to its subscribers through affordable products and services.
The company said subscribers interested in the offer should dial 555PIN# to receive the mouth-watering 5 times value “to talkbelleful (satisfactorily) on all networks”.
On Saturday, July 6, Union Bank employees (#TeamUnion), led by the Chief Executive Officer, Emeka Emuwa, turned out on the streets of Lagos, Kaduna, Anambra and seven other states, for a clean-up exercise as part of activities to mark the Bank’s Employee Volunteer Day (#UBNEVDay).
#UBNEVDay provides an avenue for employees to give back to their communities through various projects and activities that drive positive social change in their host communities. This year, the exercise took place in 15 locations across the six geo-political regions of the country with more than 1,200 employees participating in the initiative along with their family and friends.
In line with the theme “Public Health and Wellbeing”, #TeamUnion cleaned up markets, major roads and other public areas. The employees also went a step further to create awareness on the importance of good sanitation, recycling and environmental sustainability. The exercise was carried out in conjunction with RecyclePoints, a waste recycling and social benefit venture, and SustyVibes, a social enterprise redefining sustainability advocacy in Nigeria.
Speaking on the initiative and the employees’ efforts, Mr. Emuwa said: “Social impact and community service are integral parts of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts at Union Bank. We have a clear mission to play an active role in the development of our society as a sustainability champion. We are proud of our employees’ involvement as we continue to lead the charge for social responsibility and impact.”
Union Bank remains committed to supporting the communities within which it operates. To mark the 2019 World Environment Day, the Bank’s employees car pooled to and from their offices as a way of cutting carbon emission and raising awareness about environmental pollution.
Each year during the Yuletide season, the Bank and its employees make donations to the less privileged in the society under the UnionCares initiative. Last year, 8,000 care bags containing staple food items were distributed to underprivileged persons across the country.
#UBNEVDay reinforces Union Bank’s commitment to building a workforce that is conscious about giving back to the communities where they live and work.
There are bankers and there are bankers, but the group managing director and chief executive officer of Polaris Bank Limited, Mr. Adetokunbo Mukhail Abiru, is arguably one of the most successful bankers Nigeria has produced in recent times.
Mr. Abiru is a rare breed. We are familiar with individuals who take over bourgeoning establishments and further increase their worth on face value along the line. But it sounds like a fairy tale to have a professional who takes over a near-comatose organization and almost makes a corporate giant out of it. This has been the lot of the former Skye Bank Plc., now rechristened Polaris Bank Limited.
In just a little time after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON took over Skye Bank and renamed it Polaris Bank which saw the emergence of Abiru as its managing director cum chief executive officer, Polaris Bank’s narrative changed to a financial institution to reckon with.
Recall that on July 4, 2016, the Central Bank of Nigeria intervened in the management of the Skye Bank Plc by reconstituting the board of directors, shoring up the bank with N100bn capital injection. The regulatory action on the bank led to the resignation of its chairman, all non-executive directors on the board, as well as the managing director, deputy managing director, and the two longest-serving executive directors on the management team.
Two years down the line, (precisely, September 22, 2018), the CBN again intervened in the ailing Skye Bank and the operating licence of the bank was revoked to give way to Polaris Bank Limited, a bridge bank former created in consultation with the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to assume the ownership of the assets, all deposit liabilities and some other liabilities of distressed and defunct Skye Bank. The bank’s share capital had run into negative territory due to bad loan deals. It was also in urgent need of recapitalisation which its shareholders could not enable.
Accordingly, the apex bank gave the board a clear mandate to turn the institution around positively. Expectedly, the Tokunbo Abiru-led team has not disappointed.
Under his leadership, the bank has witnessed significant transformation in market competitiveness. The financial institution has roared into the limelight, with the many brilliant strides and policies executed since he took over.
He is easily one of the best banking brains and business leaders on the continent – evident in his immense contribution to the African banking industry. Abiru’s story is a remarkable one and his journey up to this point is enough blue print for anyone looking to achieve success in their path.
This is a man who has used his Midas touch to turn things around for the financial institution within a very short space of time.
On assumption of office in 2016, Abiru drew up a holistic and integrated approach to business modernization which elevated the bank to deliver a superior customer-centric experience. The impact of this change has been reflecting positively on the bank’s report card, which restored customers’ trust and confidence in the system.
Since becoming the managing director of the lender, the game-changer has spearheaded several growth initiatives which have placed the bank on upward trajectory. The Abiru-led Polaris team has continued to implement the July 2016 regulatory intervention to include entrenching sound corporate governance and risk management practices and transforming Polaris into fully fledged retail and commercial bank with strong digital backing.
The miraculous transformation experienced by Polaris Bank which was almost a dying entity a few years ago is a testimony of the leadership and managerial qualities of Abiru.
The bank has invested significantly in technology with copiously integrated service models enabling customers enjoy banking services through a wide range of channels.
Today, Polaris Bank can boast of a strong market share going by several transformative business initiatives.
Mr. Abiru has successfully implemented cost management initiatives which have enhanced liquidity and efficient service delivery to the bank’s customers.
Through his aggressive recovery initiatives, the bank has been able to recover over N200 billion of outstanding bad loans within a shortest period.
Under his watch, the bank has been able to reach settlement and restructuring agreements with many of the chronic bad debtors resulting in substantially improved payments and prospects of future recoveries.
In line with the bank’s broad mandate which includes cost management and optimisation, as well as divestments to improve the institution’s financial position, Tokunbo Abiru has embarked on several initiatives aimed at restructuring and repositioning the bank.
Some of the initiatives embarked upon by Mr. Abiru include: branch rationalisation, review of service contracts and cash management operations which have resulted in hundreds of millions of financial savings. Also, through some of the initiatives, the bank has successfully settled many matured trade and bilateral obligations and restructured outstanding balances with the relevant institutions and counterparties.
Under Mr. Abiru’s watch, the bank has divested from four local subsidiaries releasing total cash value of N6.2 billion.
Tokunbo Abiru is also known for his no-nonsense approach to service delivery which keeps members of staff on their toes always, but doesn’t hesitate in wielding the big stick when necessary in order to achieve the desired growth goals of the brand, while rewarding outstanding members of staff.
Polaris Bank under Abiru has also continued to promote the CBN’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy aimed at reducing the number of eligible adult Nigerians that are excluded from the formal financial system from 46.3 per cent to 20 per cent by the year 2020. The lender has been remarkable, strutting the length and breadth of Nigeria to promote financial inclusion.
Polaris Bank has also made available different credit and funding options to small scale entrepreneurs and business owners, operating in the informal sector, in order to bring them into mainstream financial system.
The bank has also employed interactive financial literacy sessions as a platform to empower students with money management skills in schools across the country. So far, the bank has organised interactive sessions on financial literacy in schools across seven states namely; Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Zamfara, Oyo, Bauchi and Benue. The sessions were facilitated by 155 employees of the bank led by the managing director/CEO. At Offot Ukwa Secondary School, Calabar, Cross River State and four other schools in Akwa Ibom State namely; Uyo High School, Bright Future International School, Nigerian Christian Institute and Redemption Academy, the students took lessons on managing and saving money.
To underscore the importance of the initiative, Abiru taught the students ways to be thrifty and start saving for the future, urging them not to spend all monetary gifts they get buying things, but rather learn to keep a part of it in the bank and watch it grow.
Overall, about 6,000 students have benefited from the training.
Similarly, in its bid to ease access to banking services and to reach the unbanked, Polaris Bank recently entered into a strategic partnership with the Niger State government by ensuring participants in the supply value chain of the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) open bank accounts with less hassle.
The NHGSFP is an initiative of the Federal Government designed as a deliberate act to encourage mass education among the underprivileged and the most vulnerable.
Since the feeding programme commenced in 2016, over 7,500 people across supply value chain had been engaged in Niger State while Polaris Bank has opened bank accounts for 1,500 cooks.
The bank has also launched its revamped mobile banking application upgraded with new and exciting user-friendly features for a more convenient banking experience. Customers can now enjoy many benefits and access self-service options, such as, easy account opening, convenient self- booking and liquidation of fixed deposits, an expanded list of bill-payment options and easy activation of standing instructions & recurrent future payments.
These and many other moves leveraging technology and building a culture of innovation is fast repositioning the bank.
Today, Polaris Bank’s branches are fast becoming a hub for transactional activities witnessing a huge footfall of customers trooping in to carry out transactions, open bank accounts and experience the innovative trends that the bank has introduced to its business. This overall experience has also been boosted by the enhancement of staff morale which inherently drives the commitment to serve their customers better.
Not resting on his oars, the seasoned banker has said that he would love to leave with a sense of satisfaction that he delivered on the mandate the CBN by taking Polaris to the top.
Abiru, is an alumnus of Harvard Business School (Advanced Management Programme) and Lagos Business School (Senior Management Programme). He holds a B.Sc. (Economics) from Lagos State University and is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an Honorary Senior Member of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
The seasoned banker has had a distinguished career in banking spanning about 30 years, ten of which were spent in the formative years of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. He thereafter spent about 14 years with First Bank of Nigeria Limited, where he functioned as executive director, Corporate Banking between 2013 and 2016.
During his banking career, he was at various times between 2013 and 2016 a non–executive director in the following companies: Airtel Mobile Networks Limited; FBN Capital Limited (now FBN Merchant Bank Limited); and FBN Bank Limited, Sierra Leone.
While serving as the Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, it is to Tokunbo Abiru’s credit that the state successfully floated an N80 billion bond, earning it the EMEA Finance’s Best Local Currency Bond Award for 2012. Under his leadership, Mr. Abiru made the state’s tax efforts yield maximum results; and the discovery of over 5.5 million tax evaders in 2013 opened up the discussion regarding taxation in Lagos State. Mr. Abiru’s efforts also led to increased Land Use Charge revenue generations to the tune of N6.2 billion.
Financial experts believe the sky is the limit for Tokunbo Abiru at Polaris Bank. One of them, Tunji Omotosho said: “His achievements are eye-catching and enviable in all ramifications. He has set a pedestal for aspiring financial managers to want to beat, but it is difficult to reach it, let alone beat it.
“Tokunbo is definitely a rare gift to the financial sector, and a miracle to the country’s development goals. A lot of us are learning so much from his experiences and how he manages them successfully.”
He was so rich he could afford to provide tea for all Nigerians. But, it was a cup of tea he took that led to his demise. As a businessman, he had investments in 102 countries. As a philanthropist, he donated, in 1991, N120 million to all higher institutions in the country, among others. As a chief, he bagged more traditional titles than any other Nigerian. After his arrest in 1994, he was not released until his death in 1998. GABRIEL AKINADEWO writes on the 21st anniversary of the death of the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (M.K.O.) Abiola.
He died without fulfilling his promises to give Nigerians the desired future. He died, looking at the conspirators in the face. At that last moment, when his soul was going, he must have told himself: “Finally, I have been outsmarted”.
Even 21 years after, Nigeria is still in a confused state as it was when Basorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (M.K.O.) Abiola, the 14th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, was killed.
The tragedy happened on July 7, 1998 and today is the 21st anniversary of the death of the philanthropist, publisher, businessman, accountant, sports financier and politician, fondly called ‘Money, Kudi, Owo’, a coinage from his M.K.O. initials.
Before his death, Nigerians waited endlessly to see the end of the tragic drama which started in 1993. Abiola’s journey of no return started on June 23, 1993 when the then military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election he won.
A year later during the regime of the late General Sani Abacha, he was arrested at his Ikeja, Lagos residence by more than 200 policemen and taken to the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), Alagbon, for declaring himself President on June 11, 1994 at Epetedo, Lagos.
The following day, he was taken to Abuja and he never returned to Lagos alive.
Not a few Nigerians were surprised at the turn of event. Abiola himself could be said to be a product of the military due to his closeness to top military officers since the early 70s. But when the election was annulled, he knew he had the people on his side and he decided to give his friends a big fight.
He declared in an interview: “By the grace of God, I will be President. The situation demands patience. With time, the government will respect the people’s verdict. I have got the people’s mandate. If they lock me up, they should be prepared to lock up millions of Nigerians”.
He was right because he was locked up indefinitely and the aspirations of Nigerians were also locked up. To give a legal cover to the detention, he was arraigned before Justice Mustapha. During one of the appearances, he declared: “I was brought here in a Black Maria in which I sat on the platform, from which I fell following ceaseless bangs from outside. I know the purpose is to humiliate me. I have never been humiliated in my life. I am a respected man in the society. They want me to die. I won’t die”.
He was wrong.
On Tuesday, July 7, 1998, the struggle ended.
He was killed in a high-level conspiracy by the Military High Command and some foreigners. He had sought to govern the most populous black country from Aso Rock. Ironically, he died in one of the committee rooms of the Presidential Villa. He was taken there to attend a meeting but was not allowed to leave alive.
His electoral victory was annulled by Babangida, he was detained by Abacha and killed during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd).
He was taken away from his residence hale and hearty but returned in a body bag in the early hours of July 9, 1998, silent, cold, dead in what is now known as the ‘Conspiracy of the Generals and Americans’.
Ironically, it was the day the one-month mourning period for Abacha ended that Abiola joined the Khalifa.
Abacha had died earlier on June 8.
Immediately it became public knowledge that Abiola was dead, many towns in South-West went up in flames. Rivers of blood flowed. The orgy of violence was uncontrollable.
This was so because Abiola was a leading light of the Yoruba, inhabiting the most politically-conscious zone in the country.
After Abacha’s death, the Yoruba believed that Abiola would soon be released.
But one of Abiola’s wives, Dupe Onitiri, had her fears.
She told anyone who cared to listen that due to the fact that the Abdulsalami regime did not release Abiola with General Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Chief Bola Ige, Chief Olu Falae, the late Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye and a few other detainees, then it was waiting for the right time to silence Abiola forever.
“Contrary to the belief in some quarters that General Abubakar has good intention for the country, his main objective is to negotiate away June 12 and if possible, eliminate the symbol of June 12, Chief M.K.O. Abiola, so as to pave the way for his own transition programme,” she declared.
Some witnesses during the Justice Chukwudifu Oputa-led Human Rights Violations and Investigations Commission (HRVIC), set up by the Obasanjo administration, corroborated her by declaring openly that Abiola was killed. What angered Nigerians most was the way Abiola, who bagged more traditional titles than any other Nigerian, was treated.
For 36 months, he was not allowed to see his doctor, Ore Falomo. For six months, he had diarrhoea and was not allowed to get medical attention. Physically, literally and mentally, he was in solitary confinement.
The second modern Yoruba leader, Chief Adekunle Ajasin, died in October 1997 but Abiola didn’t know until June, 1998 after Abacha’s death. It was also then he learnt of the death of Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who also died months earlier.
Years after the Ghanaian, Kofi Annan, succeeded the Egyptian, Boutrous Boutrous Ghali, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, Abiola didn’t know. It was an embarrassing situation when he asked Annan, who was trying to persuade him to renounce his mandate on June 30, 1998: “Who are you?”
Annan told him that Ghali was no longer the boss of the world body when Abiola asked again: “What of the Egyptian?”
Despite the pressure from the Abdulsalami regime and others engaged to persuade him, Abiola refused to renounce his mandate.
Some, who were sympathetic to the military regime, said that five years after the election, nobody would recognise him in the comity of nations. They also said that even if he was made president in 1993, his first tenure would have lapsed in 1997. They even told him that legally, his mandate had expired but Abiola told them off. He believed that the military apologists were being theoretical in their analysis. As long as Nigerians still wanted him as their president, there was nothing anybody could do about it.
He reportedly told those trying to persuade him: “In the court of public opinion, legal advice is useless. Which country has ever solved its political problems by seeking legal advice?”
The late billionaire knew there was no way he would leave detention and become the president the next day. But he told the junta that he would not renounce his mandate or negotiate in detention. “Release me first, then we will talk,”
But his enemy knew there was no way Abiola would be released and the agitation for the revalidation of the June 12 election and participatory democracy would cease.
Also, the moment he was released, it would be difficult to re-arrest him.
There were two other reasons. Abiola was well connected in the international circle. He was on first-name basis with many presidents. The moment he was released, it would be difficult to stop his zeal for vengeance. Also, if eventually power was given to him, a Southerner, it would affect the future plan of some die-hard conservative Northerners.
Feelers that Abdulsalami was only playing a chess game came on June 27, 1998 when the late Senator Abraham Adesanya led a four-man delegation to see Abdulsalami in Abuja. Their demand: Abiola must be released immediately.
Abubakar promised to do something but Abiola, who one day in 1991, doled out N120 million to Nigerian higher institutions, was still kept in detention.
Abdulsalami was merely following the footstep of his predecessor, Abacha.
The late Pope John Paul II, former South African President, the late Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, had persuaded Abacha to release Abiola to no avail.
The international conspiracy dimension came when Tony Lloyd, the British Minister of State for African Affairs, who was also the special envoy of the European Union, visited the country.
Lloyd refused to see Abiola but met several members of the junta. He declared that it was wrong for Abiola to insist on his mandate, saying the stance of his government was the conduct of a fresh election.
With the balance of terror between Abiola and the junta, it was obvious that one must give way. Then, a plot was hatched and the belief is that the presence of United States (U.S.) Under Secretary of State, Thomas Pickering, who was the Special Envoy of the then President Bill Clinton, the Assistant Secretary of State, Susan Rice and Ambassador Twaddell, was a deliberate act to give the Abdulsalami regime a soft landing in the conspiracy.
On July 6, 1998, a day to Abiola’s death, Bisi and Doyin, his two senior wives and his eldest daughter, Lola Abiola-Edewor, were allowed to see him.
Although gaunt, Abiola was in high spirit. They discussed at length and the visitors believed that it was just a matter of days before he would be released.
A few days before, the then Chief of General Staff, the late Admiral Mike Akhigbe and former Secretary-General of The Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, were with Abiola and before they left the detainee, a group photograph was taken which was published in the media. It was also shown on television.
On July 7, Abiola was in his room, alone, meditating on the way forward.
Then, some security agents, mostly operatives of the State Security Service (SSS), told him to dress up because he had a meeting to attend at The Villa.
The 14th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland was familiar with this routine. As usual, after delivering the message, the guards left immediately. He was also used to this. When he got outside, he entered one of the cars and the journey-of-no-return started. The car which conveyed him was in the middle. The agents were armed with sophisticated weapons such as Israeli-made Uzi and Mac 10.
When the convoy got to Aso Rock, Abiola was taken to one of the committee rooms. He waited for a few minutes. Of course, he knew the discussion would, again, be centred on the pressure to renounce his mandate. He was determined not to give in. He was still thinking when the door opened and Pickering, Rice and Twaddell entered.
They were accompanied by Buhari Bwala, then Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Security agents had already placed themselves strategically in the room, their presence understood, their minds unknown. It is, however, not known if all of them knew the plan to silence Abiola that day.
Abiola knew Pickering well.
When he was U.S. Ambassador in Nigeria, that was the time Abiola started his reparation crusade. So, they met on several occasions.
Naturally, Abiola was happy that a friend was in the house. He greeted the others but Abiola and Pickering dominated the discussion thereafter.
Gradually, the discussion veered toward the impasse and Abiola, who was ready for that, bluntly said that he would only negotiate “when I become a free man”.
When they realised that his mind was made up, Pickering tactically changed the topic. The atmosphere was now relaxed.
Then, somebody called for tea and biscuit. This was done immediately and the security men took charge thereafter. They served tea round.
Abiola was used to this because since he was detained, he was not allowed to take food from outside. And he had no reason to believe that his tea would be poisoned since everybody was served. What he did not know was that one of the agents was mandated to serve him alone, a man so rich that he could afford to provide tea for all Nigerians. He once said he had investments in 102 countries. Abiola never knew that was his last liquid intake.
He drank a little, returned the cup to the tray, took it again and sipped gently.
The ‘deadly’ liquid had hardly settled when he felt a movement in his stomach. Then, he coughed, dropped the cup and coughed again. With his left hand, he touched his stomach, just to reassure himself that everything was okay. By then, some of the agents had removed the trays and cups. Abiola started feeling uncomfortable. He then excused himself hurriedly to the toilet.
It was while inside the toilet that he realised that he had been fatally outsmarted.
When he returned, the cough had turned violent. He glanced at Pickering and the rest for the last time and collapsed on the couch.
A doctor was hurriedly called after some precious minutes had been wasted in a fit of indecision. Abiola was dead on arrival at Aso Rock Clinic.
Even when his death had not become public knowledge, the first thing the junta did was to put all military formations on the alert with special emphasis on the South-West.
Within a spate of two years, it was the second time tragedy would befall the Abiola family.
Kudirat, his second wife, who was a thorn in the flesh of the Abacha regime, was assassinated in broad-day light near 7UP Junction, Ikeja, Lagos by agents of the junta on June 4, 1996.
To show that it had no hand in Abiola’s death, the military government dispatched a presidential jet to Lagos to fetch Falomo to be part of the team that would perform the autopsy.
Falomo was not told why he was needed in Abuja or why a presidential jet was dispatched to fetch him. He was even told to come with Kola, Abiola’s eldest son.
Given the fact that he was not allowed to see Abiola for months, he suspected foul play. His fear was confirmed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja when he heard the news on the radio. He told Kola that they must return to their houses immediately ‘before fireworks (riot) start’.
Meanwhile, in Abuja, Bisi, Doyin and Lola were at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport on their way to Lagos to prepare for the return of their bread winner. An agent rushed to them with the information that they were needed at The Villa.
Their initial thinking was that Abiola would be released that evening. They met Akhigbe, Pickering, Chief Physician Aminu Wali and other officials.
It was weeping galore when the news was broken to them.
Worldwide, people received the news with shock.
In South-West Nigeria, it was with anger.
The riot turned ethnic as people of Northern extraction were attacked in Agege, Idi-Araba, Obalende, Mushin, Oyingbo, Ijora areas of Lagos and other parts of Yorubaland.
The military complicated the crisis by shooting at random. More than 100 people were killed in Lagos alone.
On July 9, 1998, Abiola was buried beside his wives, Simbiat and Kudirat, at his expensive Ikeja residence.