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How Tokunbo Abiru transformed Polaris Bank

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Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Bank Limited, Adetokunbo Abiru

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(precisely, September 22, 2018), the CBN again intervened in the ailing Skye Bank and the operating licence of the bank was revoked to give way to Polaris Bank Limited, a bridge bank former created in consultation with the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to assume the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.

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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.

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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.”

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ECOBA Lagos Present Prizes and Awards to deserving Students of Edo College

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The Lagos branch of Edo College old boys Association, ECOBA has presented nineteen prizes and awards to deserving students and teachers of Edo College, Benin City at the 2019 graduation and prize-giving ceremony of the institution.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony for one hundred and forty-three students, the chairman of the occasion, Mr. Isaac Ehiozuwa, Edo state Head of Service commended the staff of the school for maintaining the excellent standard of the school.

According to the Head of Service, who was represented by Mr. Edwin Oaikhena Edionweme, a director of administration and supplies, a lot has been done by the school authorities, but a lot still needs to be done.

He advised the staff to continue to ensure that the right discipline is inculcated in the students which would bring joy to every parent.

“We are all aware of the steps the Edo state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has been taking in the education sector. It is therefore good to key into the mission and vision of this administration,” he added.

The National President of ECOBA, Dr. Reuben Osahon who thanked the old boys of the school for their numerous contributions to the development of their Alma-Mata enjoined the new graduands to find the nearest branch wherever they find themselves and join the association.

“The law states that after two years of graduation from the school without being expelled you are qualified. If you have benefited from the institution, it is your responsibility to contribute your quota to the development of the school that is 82 years old,” he noted.

During the presentation of prizes and awards from the Lagos branch, the ECOBA National President gave the best mathematics SS3 student award to Efosa Illoware Eghenayamose, sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation; The best English Language SS3 award sponsored by Mr. Sunday Airrue Uaboi to Odiase O. Micheal; the best SS3 Economics award sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation to Elaigwu Augustine Ugbede-Ojo; The best Accounts SS3 award sponsored by Senator David Dafinone Foundation to Izekor Jefferson and the best SS3 Physics award sponsored by Engr Edward E. Iyamu to Emina Attah Emeka.

The Benin branch chairman. Barrister Peter Oibor made the presentation to the best Fine Arts SS3 award sponsored by Micheal I. Omo Osagie to Elaigwu Augustine Ugbede-Ojo; the best Agric Science SS3 award sponsored by Osazenaye Osarenkhoe to Ofuase Kikachukwu Oluwatimilehin; the best Biology SS3 award sponsored by Mrs. Hilda Gregory (AKA Edede Edo College) to Oghagbon Osasenaga; the best Geography SS3 award sponsored by Omaha Endowment Fund to Ikilo Eghosasere Evidence and the best sport person SS3 award sponsored by Uyi Akpata to Isreal Edosomwan.

Other awards presented by the ECOBA Benin branch Chairman were the best mathematics SS2 award sponsored by AVM Joe Ehigie (Rtd) to Iyase Eghosa; the best Athletics SS2 award sponsored by Madam Ofure Akpata to Egharevba Blossom; the best mathematics JS3 award sponsored by Godwin Ize-Iyamu to Agas Eseoghene David; the best English Language JS3 award sponsored by Mrs. Omokhuwe Alegeh to Aiwehoe Osayuki Gabriel; the Best French JS3 award sponsored by Amb. Vincent Okobi went to Abiodun-Mudasiru Moyosola Marcel while the Best JS1 French Class award went to JS1c and the Best teacher in Geography award sponsored by Omaha Endowment Fund went to Mr. Aghedo B.O.

Other awards presented by the representative of the Head of Service include the outstanding teacher in English to Mrs. Theresa Ehigie, the best N-power outstanding award to Evance Erhabor and the principal of the school, Mr. Samuel Ogbebor also presented the principal award to ECOBA for their contribution to the overall development of Edo College.

“The laudable contributions of ECOBA to the overall development of Edo College cannot be over-emphasized. The old boys have played key roles in activating the core values of the college, its physical environment inclusive, management is extremely grateful to the class set of 92 that built and commissioned a basketball court. By so doing, they have revived the spirit of sportsmanship amongst students,” he added. 

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Also Read:  Skye Bank Plc Announces Resignation Of Executive Directors
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IGP Must Read This: Shocking Details Of How Police Allegely Manipulated Rape Victim

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Kidnapper

A 19 year old lady simply identified as Oyindamola, was allegedly drugged and gang raped by her boyfriend and his friends at a party in the Alagbado area in Lagos state on June 30th.

 

The older sister of the victim, Mrs Afolabi, in an exclusive interview with LIB, said the victim who was a virgin, was invited to a birthday party by her boyfriend, Roy Arinze, who drugged her, took her away from the party while she was unconcious and raped her alongside two of his friends.

 

On the 30th of June, my sister Oyindamola went for a birthday party with one of her best friend called Roy Arinze. Arround 6pm, Roy invited her to a birthday party which was celebrated by one of his brothers. On getting to the party, Roy brought beer for my sister to drink  and she had never taken beer before. He begged her to drink it so she collected it from him and she drank it. After taking the alcohol, she said she doesn’t know what is happening to her. The next thing, she found herslef in Roy’s house.  Roy took her to his house. She was unconcious. When she woke up, she saw three guys packing blood. She was like what is going on here? What happened. Roy responded that he just fingered her.  She was like you just fingered me and I am seeing three guys packing blood. Roy responded that they came to her rescue.

 

She said she wants to start going home. She woke up around 9.30pm. During that period, she had switched off her phone. We have been looking for her.  They asked her to sleep over but she said no that she cannot wait that she has to go back home. They put her to a bike and she went home.

When my sister got home, she went straight to bed. She did not inform anybody. The next day, my mum went out and she called me to say she wasn’t feeling alright. She said she was feeling pains in her vagina. I asked her what happened and she told me that she went to her boyfriend’s place yesterday and that he told her that he fingered her and that since then, she hasn’t been feeling okay. I was thinking maybe normal tears, maybe the guy slept with her and disvirgined her and she had a few tears. I called a nurse who told me she can take Ampiclox and then sit on warm water.

 

Oyindamola was in so much pain that she couldn’t walk. So she wanted to go and buy the drugs which is Ampiclox. On getting to the pharmacy which was in our neighboorhood, the pharmacist saw the way she was walking and was like what happened to you Oyindamola? She responded that she is having pains all over her body and that she wants to buy drugs. The pharmacist was like you are having body pains and you want to buy Ampiclox? The pharmacist forced her to come closer to see what was happening down. She bent and opened her vagina for the pharmacist.

The pharmacist was shocked and was very suprised. She directed her to    Fumbi Medical Center hospital in our area. She went there and she was admitted. Because my mum wasn’t around and I wasn’t around as well, , she called Roy to tell him she was in the hospital.  The guy came down to the hospital. The doctor asked them to pay N38, 000 to stitch it for my sister. I think the doctor did not know it was something big.

 

Later on,  my mum got in touch with her and asked her ”where are you?’. She said she was in the hospital. When she got to the hospital, my mum was very surpised. She rushed down to the police station  on AIT Alagbado to report. She got there and at the counter, met a female police officer who accompanied her to get Roy arrested.

On getting there, they saw Roy and the doctor discussing. Roy was promising the doctor that he will pay extra N25, 000 to take care of Oyindamola as well as beg our mother on his behalf.

Roy was immediately arrested and taken to the police station. When they got there, the policemen were asking my mum to pay N5000 to open file, another N5000 for transport and another N5000.  They were just asking her for money. She was like money for what? Is it a crime for me to come and tell you that something happened to me and you can’t come to my rescue? (sic)  The police woman told my mum if she cannot pay the money, then she should forget about the case. My mum was surprised and was like why would she say such a thing? She left for home and returned with N5000 which was all she could gather. Before she returned to the police station, I think the police woman and Roy had discussed. Roy asked her to please help him beg my mum  and that he is going to settle the woman.

 

The police woman told my mum that she come so they can settle the matter because she knows she doesn’t have money. She told my mum that if they go to court, she would lose because she doesn’t have money.  She was like you don’t have money to pay N5000 for  transport. My Mum was like why would she say such a thing. She told my mum that she should provide the remaining money asked for as soon as possible otherwise she would release the suspect, Roy.

My mum did not have much with her. She rushed down to the church and called upon the brethren that they should please come to her aid. My mum and the church members visited the police station on Wednesday July 2nd. They went straight to the DPO’s office as the female police officer was not on sit. The DPO wasn’t aware of what was even happening. The DPO said he was not even aware wasn’t even in the cell.

 

He begged my mum and church members.  Some people hinted us that we should call humanright activists that they are ready to fight for us and can take up the issue. We got their number and called them that same Wednesday. We called and Mrs Fola from Ikeja spoke to us. She came on Thursday July 3rd. She met my sister in the Hospital and asked her questions. She also met with doctor. The doctor told Mrs Fola he did not see any sign of penetration and that he doesn’t understand the case and that she should just take it easy.

Mrs Fola then said no that she will not take it easy and that it must be charged to court. That Thursday, the doctor gave us a bill of N55, 000 and asked us to go and pay. My sister all through this period couldn’t urinate by herself. They had to pass a pipe through her body. Unfortuately we don’t have much, we are very rich. We didn’t have much with us. We tried to run helter skelter to raise the money. We didn’t have much because my dad has not been feeling fine for a very long time. He cannot walk. We have been spending much on my dad. This Oyinda own coming suddenly made us weak.

Before then, Roy’s family members have been coming down to the hospital, begging us that we should settle this matter because they are Igbo, we we are Yoruba (sic).  They said they will pick up the bill and that they will give  us some amount of money and that anything we want we should ask for. I personally said no because  this guy is not telling us the truth because after he injured my sister, he cleaned her blood with his clothes and white handkerchief. We even asked for the clothes he used to clean her blood but he said he had burnt it. We don’t even know what he used the blood to do.

 

The police just put him in their custody. They did not question him nor ask him We were also surprised because my sister said they were three when she openned her eyes. They left the remaining two guys. They did not interrogate them.” she said

 

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Speaking further, Mrs Afolabi said the Humanright activisit insisted that Oyinda must be examined at the Mirabel Medical center within seven days as the test will not be able to detect anything after seven days.

On Saturday July 6th, the humanrights activist came to take Oyindamola for the test but the doctor denied her access because we had not paid the hospital bill. The doctor said she cannot release Oyindamola unless the hospital bill is paid. We pleaded that she should just allow Oyindamola to go for the test and come back to the hospital. We were like we will try and go to church on Sunday and gather something. The doctor refused.  Thank God for Mrs Fola. , she spoke with the doctor who pledged to ensure Oyindamola returns to the hospital.

At the end of the day, Mrs Fola left with Oyindamola and my brother to Mirabel for the test. Me and my mum we were there at the hospital. They brought her back to the hospital. On Sunday we got to church and  we were not able to gather anything. We were just tired. Later we agreed that Roy’s family should pay the money because it is their responsibility because they are the ones that caused everything. They paid the bill and we went home.

 

On Monday  July 8th, I went to the police station to find out what is happening and they said they have not made any arrest because they have not seen any evidence. They asked me to take a sheet of paper to Mirabel to collect the result. On Tuesday July 9th, we went down to Mirabel.

 

On that Saturday when they went for the test in Mirabel, they met with one Dr who enlightened Mrs Fola that it was a gang rape. He said from what he saw, it was a gang rape. He said the result will come out in 7 days. He said they raped her through her vagina and through her anus . The doctor was so sad.

 

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According to Mrs Afolabi, on Monday July 15th, the police called for a meeting between her family and Roy’s family members. On getting to the station, Oyindamola and her mother were shocked to see Roy arrriving the police station on a motorbike. They never knew the police had released Roy. A few minutes later, the police informed them that the meeting had been postponed to the next day.  Oyindamola accused the police officer of wasting her time as she was meant to be at the Mirabel medical center for further treatment but had to cancel it because of the meeting.

 

Mrs Afolabi said that to her family’s suprise, the police officer accused Oyindamola of being rude and locked her up in the cell. She said the police threatened her mum that she will also be locked up if she isn’t careful.  She was detained in the cell till the next day July 16th.

 

In the night, the policemen were interrogating her again. They told her that when they get to court, she should tell them that she was not sleeping when Roy was having sex with her. They were collecting another statement from her again.  They did not give her food or medication.

The next day, my mummy came and they said they want to go to court because they have collected another statement. They said they were going to court that morning which was yesterday. She called me and I was surprised. I was angry because the police decided to go to court now after forcing my sister to make another statement. The police officers collected my mum’s phone so she could not be able to talk to me, forced her into a vehicle with Oyindamola and they drove to the court” she said

Mrs Afolabi said Roy was in the court and his lawyers asked the court to grant him bail.

 

The Magistrate court adjourned the case to September 26th.

 

Mrs Afolabi says all her family is demanding is justice for her sister, Oyindamola.

 

Culled: Linda Ikeji

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GTBank Holds 9th Annual Autism Conference July 30th – 31st

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For the ninth year in a row, Africa’s foremost financial institution, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, will bring together some of the world’s leading experts in Autism for two days of critical discourse on supporting children and adults living with Autism in Africa. Organized as part of the GTBank’s Orange Ribbon Initiative, the Annual Autism Conference, will hold on the 30th and 31st of July 2019 at the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.

Themed, “Autism: Transitions, Vocational skills and The Role of Technology,” the Annual Autism Conference will bring to the fore the challenges facing children living with Autism as they grow into adulthood. The conference will feature presentations and keynote addresses on how to empower children and adults living with Autism to reach their full potential. Some of the facilitators include Dr. Loretta Burns, a leading expert in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders and the founder of ABE International Clinic; Dr. Tisa Hooper-Johnson, the Medical Director of the HFHS Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (CADD), USA; Janette Washington, a speech-language pathologist with nearly a decade of experience working with children living with autism and other special needs; and Ivie Emokpae, a qualified special needs coordinator from the Institute of Education London.

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Following the Autism conference will be free one-on-one consultations for children with Autism and other developmental challenges, as well as counselling for parents and guardians.

There will also be sessions for Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Behaviour Analysis, Audiology, Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychiatry, Physiotherapy, and Occupational Therapy. These sessions will hold from Thursday August 1st to Tuesday August 6th, 2019 at Digital Village, Alausa, Lagos.

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Commenting on the 9th Annual Autism Awareness Conference, Segun Agbaje, the Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank plc, said; “Children and adults living with autism often lack the support and vocational training that they need to develop critical life skills for leading independent and productive lives. As an organization that is passionate about uplifting the most vulnerable in our society, we will continue to empower people living with autism with all the support and resources that they need to reach their full potential.”

Guaranty Trust Bank plc is a Nigerian financial institution that has maintained a defined Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy since its inception in 1990.

The Bank actively supports numerous programmes across Africa that positively affect Infant and Maternal Healthcare, Education, the Arts, Community Development and the Environment.

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