The management of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) has in the last three years performed quite creditably, thereby justifying its appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari. The bank has maintained a steady growth since Abba Bello was appointed managing director and chief executive officer in April, 2017, recording positive indices that suggest a very bright future.
For instance, after just one year in office of its current executive management, the bank posted the unprecedented performance of growing its balance sheet to N117 billion in 2018, nearly double from N61 billion recorded in 2016. This was in addition to the substantial profit of N2.09 billion it recorded within the same period. The profit was impressive when compared with its loss position in 2017. Results for the year ended December, 2019 were not out by press time, but there were indications that the bank might meet its projected target of N190 billion for the period.
Within the period under review, NEXIM disbursed about N22 billion in loans and created 2, 039 direct jobs through various interventions, in addition to thousands of indirect jobs in various sectors. It also earned substantial foreign exchange for the country.
The bank has concentrated on financing businesses in key non-oil sectors of the economy such as manufacturing, Agro-processing, including agricultural commodities like cocoa, cashew, sesame seed, gum Arabic and leather products; solid minerals, as well as service industries.
The intervention initiatives of NEXIM also include support for export of professional services in the areas of construction, creative arts, outsourcing of business processes, information communication technology, medical tourism and healthcare.
Packaging has been a major issue hampering export of Nigerian products over the years. On many occasions Nigerian products have failed to stand international tests not because of low quality, but because of poor packaging. This is one area on which NEXIM is focusing its attention. The bank is working to improve packaging of Nigerian products to minimize incidents of rejection in foreign countries to where such products are exported.
The bank’s intervention in this area is through funding and investment guarantees in order to bring about involvement of the private sector in partnerships that would enable setting up of laboratories and relevant infrastructure for the purpose of raising the quality of packaging to meet international standards.
“This is in addition to providing funding support towards establishment of conditioning, irradiation and sterilization facilities to enhance shelf life of perishable goods, as well as production of jute bags, corrugated cartons and flexible packaging materials”, the bank said in a statement.
The bank is also facilitating establishment of a shipping company through the Sealink Project. The project is aimed at providing maritime links between West and Central African countries, and is expected to facilitate shipment of over 30 million tonnes of solid minerals valued at over $1.8 billion, annually.
In a strategic move that is aimed at developing the regulatory and legal framework for factoring of businesses in Nigeria, NEXIM is currently collaborating with stakeholders in the nation’s financial industry under the auspices of Financial Systems Strategy 2020 of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). This would serve as an alternative financial instrument for the promotion of trade and also allow small and medium enterprises (SME) easy access to the funds.
The intervention of NEXIM is not only in the private sector. The bank is involved with government at state level as well. For instance, it is involved with state governments in the One State One Export Product (OSOP) programme. The programme involves setting aside up to N1 billion for the development of commodities with export potential, for the purpose of achieving the Zero Oil Plan of the federal government in order to promote inclusive economic growth.
The NEXIM, under Bello, has been in the forefront of the campaign for the development of the SME sector. Nothing best attests to this fact than the bank’s collaboration with its partners to push for speedy passage of the Nigerian Factory Bill that would promote SMEs in the country.
The bank and its partners made their position known at a meeting it held recently with the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions in Abuja. Bello, who spoke on behalf of the group, said when passed into law, the bill would help revamp the SME sector and also create jobs.
He announced plans by NEXIM to partner Factory Chain International, Intra-African Initiatives and African Export-Import Bank (Afrieximbank) for effective service delivery. He also said the bank would adopt factoring, a short term, non-bank financing programme that involves purchase of receivables, which is conversion of credit sales to cash at a discount.
“Factoring transaction is undertaken when a client is a seller of goods or services on credit terms and is done so that the seller and his business can receive cash more quickly with which to finance continued business operations”, Bello explained at the meeting. “Over the past four years, the Nigerian Export-Import Bank has been working toward developing factoring as a trade finance instrument designed to promote micro, small and medium enterprises development. It also serves as a strategic tool toward financial inclusion in trade services”.
Bello said factoring became necessary in view of current challenges of accessing finance, and also the decline in export credits to support exporters, particularly SMEs.
Speaking in support of factoring, Enga Kameni of Afrieximbank said it was considered a key instrument for supporting SMEs, especially those that do not qualify for lending by traditional banks. He said SMEs account for 40 per cent of employment and 30 per cent of the GDP in low income countries. He also said SMEs play a key role in intra-regional trade and industrialization.
At the occasion, Senator Uba Sani, chairman of the committee, commended the group for the initiative, adding that if passed into law, the bill would promote integration of Nigeria into the global factoring market. He said factoring was an essential component of international trade that also played an important role in promoting export and import in the country.
The NEXIM was established by Act 38 of 1991 as the Export Credit Agency, with share capital of N50 billion held equally be the Federal Ministry of Finance Incorporated and CBN. The bank replaced the Nigerian Export Credit Guarantee and Insurance Corporation that was earlier established under Act 15 of 1988.
Its functions include provision of credit guarantee and export credit insurance facilities to its clients; provision of credit in local currency to its clients in support of exports; establishment of and management of funds connected with exports and maintenance of a trade information service where such facility is likely to assist exports.
Others are maintenance of a foreign exchange revolving fund for lending to exporters who need to import foreign inputs to facilitate export production and provision of domestic credit insurance where such a facility is likely to assist exports.
The bank currently provides short- and medium-term loans to Nigerian exporters, and also provides short term guarantee for loans Nigerian banks grant to exporters. It also provides credit insurance against political and commercial risks should there arise a case of non-payment by foreign buyers. The NEXIM plays the role of national guarantor under the ECOWAS Inter-state Road Transit Programme.
The Dream Team
Abubakar Bello: Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer
Abubakar Bello heads the dream team at NEXIM as managing director and chief executive officer. He has more than 28 years in banking, and has held very senior management positions in corporate banking, regional and commercial banking, as well as public sector banking. He was the executive director in charge of corporate banking, agriculture and the Northern Directorate of Unity Bank Plc before his current appointment.
Bello has wide experience in international banking, and was managing director and chief executive officer of United Bank for Africa Plc’s subsidiary in the Republic of Chad and Zambia for many years.
He has attended several courses within and outside Nigeria in areas such as leadership, advanced management, as well as executive management. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria and Fellow, Institute of Credit Administrators.
Bala Bello: Executive Director, Corporate Services
Bala Bello, executive director, corporate services, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and an MBA, both from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
He began his career with Guarantee Trust Bank and later joined the Securities and Exchange Commission. He moved to Sigma Pensions Limited in 2005 and, in 2011, was appointed executive director and chief operating officer.
He held the position of executive director, operations, from 2013 to 2014, in which capacity he had direct administrative responsibility for over N260 billion funds and assets under management (A-U-M).
Bello had the responsibility to establish and run Marine Capital Limited, a real estate development and business/pensions advisory firm in February, 2015 as its founding managing director and chief executive officer. He joined Apricot Investments Limited in March, 2016 as the pioneer managing director and chief executive officer.
Bello has attended high profile training programmes outside the country, including the High Potential Leadership Programme at Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts and Executive Development Programme at Wharton Business School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, both in the United States of America.
He holds a certificate in Operations Leadership from Richard Ivey School of Business, University of West Ontario, Canada, and a certificate in Portfolio Management from the New York Institute of Finance.
Stella Okotete: Executive Director, Business Development
Stella Okotete is the executive director, business development, at NEXIM. A graduate of International Relations and Diplomacy from the Benson Idahosa University in Benin and a diploma in Law from the Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Okotete has a rich pedigree in public policy design and implementation, international development and general administration. She has worked in both the public and private sectors.
She served as special assistant and adviser on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to former Delta State governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, from 2011 to 2015. On that position, she provided leadership in the establishment and execution of programmes with agencies to ensure meeting of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.
The assignment afforded her opportunity to champion the review and effective management of micro, small and medium enterprises policy to tackle poverty and create jobs in line with the mandates of MDGs. She was also able to support monitoring and evaluation team of the state’s CCT Scheme and social development policy which aided the growth and expansion of business clusters in the state.
Okotete had a stint in politics as an elected councilor in the Ughelli North Local Government Council, a position that enabled her to better understand the socio-economic needs of neglected communities. She used the knowledge to ensure that the state’s MDGs strategic intervention programmes impacted positively on those communities.
A beneficiary of the Harvard Kennedy School Certificate Programme for Emerging Leaders, Okotete attended the Enterprise Development Centre Programme in Entrepreneurial Management at the Lagos Business School. She is the co-founder of E’Girls Right Foundation, and was involved in volunteer work at internally displaced persons’ camps at Ughelli, Maiduguri and Abuja.
Olatayo Omidiji: Deputy General Manager/Head, Strategic and Communications Planning
Olatayo Omidiji holds a Bachelors and Master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, as well as a Master’s degree in Economic Policy Management from the University of Ghana, Legon.
A research executive with deep knowledge of the Nigerian and international business environment, Omidiji has more than 20 years’ experience in the Nigerian financial services industry where he served as economic and policy analyst, business information specialist, investment analyst and strategy/planning manager.
Before joining NEXIM where he is the deputy general manager and head, strategic and communications planning, he worked in the private sector garnering experiences in various organizations, including research manager at the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and head, research and financial advisory at the Financial Derivatives Company Limited. Others were head, research and planning at NAL Bank Plc and head, research and strategy at Sterling Capital Markets Limited, which was then the investment banking arm of Sterling Bank Plc.
Omidiji has attended several training programmes and seminars within and outside Nigeria, and is a beneficiary of the United States International Visitor Programme.
Rani Dansarki: Assistant General Manager/Head, Finance and Accounts
Rani Dansarki, the assistant general manager and head of finance and accounts department at NEXIM, holds a BSc degree in Accounting from the Bayero University, Kano, and an MBA from the Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.
He began his career as accountant II with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria in 1992 and, 10 years later, joined the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control. He joined the internal audit department of NEXIM in 2008, with responsibility as finance and account officer of the federal government’s $500 million Textile Revival Fund.
He was redeployed to the finance and accounts department of the bank in 2009 and, in January, 2010, was made head of the department. In 2012, he was appointed project manager, a position in which he successfully led the conversion of the bank’s financial reporting form the local General Accepted Principle (N-GAAP) to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). He has competencies in financial analysis, financial modeling, treasury management and human resources management.
Dansarki, who is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Nigerian Institute of Management, is happily married with children.
Eric Sambo: Assistant General Manager/Head, Information Technology
Eric Sambo is the assistant general manager and head, information technology at NEXIM. He holds a B. Tech (Hons) in Computer Science (Second Class Upper) from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in Bauchi and an MSc in Mathematics, a Joint Higher Degree Programme from the National Mathematical Centre in the University of Abuja.
He began his working career as a graduate assistant at the Oyo State University of Technology (now Ladoke Akintola University of Technology) in 1991, before joining Inlaks Computers in Lagos as programmer and systems engineer. He later worked with Commercial Trust Bank as system and database administrator before joining NEXIM in 1996 as IT application specialist and database administrator.
Sambo is an IT specialist with extensive knowledge and experience in several fields such as academics, as well as professional practice in value-added IT services and the financial industry. He has been involved in the development of several specialized application software and also served as project manager in the implementation and customization of many turn-key IT projects such accounting software, core banking software, third party application development, integration and interface with core application in many corporate organizations.
A member of the Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria and Nigeria Computer Society, Sambo has attended several seminars on IT project management and leadership within and outside Nigeria.
Sherif Gubio: Chief Risk and Compliance Officer
Sherif Gubio, chief risk and compliance officer of NRXIM, holds a B. Pharm degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Maiduguri. He has working experience in several backgrounds such as academics, pharmaceutical, marketing and banking.
Gubio began his banking career with FSB International Bank Plc in 1997, and was a member of the bank’s transformation team that was responsible for change management initiatives across all platforms.
He left FSB in 2004 to join Guarantee Trust Bank Plc as group head of the Advantium (Retail) Banking Group, with responsibility for the North West region. He moved to UBA Plc in 2006 as a credit manager and subsequently rose to the position of head, risk management, UBA Sierra Leone Limited, with responsibility for establishment of the bank’s subsidiary and gaining of a foothold in the banking sector of that country. He also doubled as the bank’s head of compliance unit.
He joined NEXIM in October, 2011 and subsequently rose to his current position.