By John Ikani
The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Heritage Bank Plc, Ifie Sekibo has been adjudged Banker of the Year 2021 under SMEs and Agric category.
Sekibo won the prestigious award at the New Telegraph 2021 Awards in recognition of his leadership position in delivering sterling development and growth of the agricultural sector and the Small and Medium Enterprises.
Presenting the award to Sekibo earlier in a letter to congratulate him for his nomination as the Banker of the Year (SMEs and Agric) of the year 2021, New Telegraph’s Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Ayodele Aminu, explained: “After a thorough scrutiny of Heritage Bank’s laudable support for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), as well the country’s agricultural sector, in the last one year by our Panel of Judges and Editors, we at the New Telegraph 2021 are pleased to award Heritage Bank, Banker of the Year (SMEs & Agric).”
Receiving the award on behalf of the bank’s CEO, the Executive Director, Jude Monye, stated that the Bank was honoured and motivated to do more for the sustainability and growth of the Agric and SME sectors following the award received from New Telegraph newspaper.
Monye said: “We are highly honoured to receive the award as the Banker of the Year (SMEs & Agric) from the Board and Management of New Telegraph Newspaper. This validates the hard work and success story of the bank to create, preserve and transfer wealth across generations, as amongst other sectors of the economy, we have continued to ensure our efforts to support the Agric and SMEs sector in Nigeria counts.
“This is a result that will continue to motivate us to deepen our supports to Agric, SMEs sector and the economy at large for sustainable growth.”
Sekibo vowed that in line with its core mandate to create and transfer generational wealth, the bank would continue to make farming profitable to stakeholders and attractive to the youth, as Heritage Bank had taken the front seat in financing critical agricultural projects in several states in the country, especially in Oyo, Kaduna and Zamfara and recently in Plateau.
He noted that most of the ventures in the agriculture sector fall within the Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises sectors of the economy, which Heritage Bank in close collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria has been championing.
According to him, in complimenting the efforts of the CBN, Heritage Bank has made a huge success of the established agricultural schemes by making funds available to both small holder farmers and SMEs (Prime Anchors) in their efforts to increase agricultural output especially rice and wheat productions.
He explained that Heritage Bank has deepened support of small holders’ farmers and anchors in Ogun, Niger and recently Plateau State in rice and wheat seed and grain production under Prime ABP, which would help tackle gaps inherent.
“Heritage Bank in partnership with CBN is set to reverse the adverse trends by eliminating dependence on imported wheat which currently stands at over $2 Billion and the unavailability of high yield wheat seed that stands at 63,000 MT through a strategic approach which would facilitate import substitution and promote self-sufficiency in the wheat value chain in Nigeria, by funding the local production of wheat and encouraging backward integration by wheat millers,” he stated.
It is worthwhile to note that the award joins a long list of other awards Heritage Bank has received for its notable success stories in the Agric and SMEs’ spaces.
In 2017, the bank won the maiden award from CBN for Sustainable Transaction of the Year in Agriculture.
In 2018, Heritage Bank emerged as a winner in the Agriculture Category during the year’s CBN Sustainable Transaction of the year award. The Nigeria Agriculture Awards (NAA), announced Heritage Bank as the Agric. Bank of the Year.
According to NAA, Heritage Bank was selected in recognition of its footprints in the Agribusiness space.
In 2019/2020, Heritage Bank secured mandate as Transaction Advisers and Settlement Bank on Agribusiness and Solid Minerals to Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange.