Monday, 25th September 2023

NBA, banks seal loan deal for lawyers

By Joseph Onyekwere
31 May 2022   |   2:42 am
As part of the access to finance scheme for its members, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with First Bank of Nigeria and Access Bank

As part of the access to finance scheme for its members, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with First Bank of Nigeria and Access Bank to give out loans to lawyers in need of financial assistance.

Signing the MOU at the corporate headquarters of the First Bank in Marina, Lagos last Tuesday, the NBA president, Olumide Akpata, said the scheme is part of his administration’s major welfare agenda for Nigerian lawyers.

Member, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Finance Committee, Tobenna Erojikwe (left); Chairman, NBA Finance Committee, Seni Adio (SAN); MD/CEO, Access Bank, Roosevelt Ogbonna; President, NBA, Olumide Akpata and the banks Deputy Managing Director, Retail Banking, North, Victor Etuokwu, during signing of MOU between Access Bank and NBA on access to finance for lawyers on Friday.

On Friday, the NBA team also signed another MoU with the management of Access Bank at its corporate headquarters in Lagos.

“We have entered into this partnership and signed an MoU with the First Bank of Nigeria to enable our members to access loans. As long as you are a financial member of the association and you have paid your dues, you are entitled to participate.

“The whole idea is that through your branch, you indicate what you need the loan for and get it. There is a ceiling at the moment of about N2 million, but as the scheme grows, we would increase the amount available to each individual. We are standing in the gap with the bank on behalf of our members. We all know what access to finance can do for any business and law practice is a business,” Akpata stressed.

He said access to finance would help to increase the capacity of his members and help expand their businesses and much more.

These, he said, are tough times for the economy and so a little extra money to lawyers could help achieve some noble objectives.

His words: “This is one of the ways we know we can impact the lives of our members. So, you liaise with your branch committee, and with their help, you can access finance for your legal practices.

“We have designed this programme to accommodate as many banks that we can partner with. We have 70,000 financial members this year. So, it may be too much for one bank. We have made the options possible that we are partnering with more than one bank.

“Today, we have signed MoU with First Bank and we will sign with a couple more banks so that our members can have that option or have the option of entering into the same scheme but with different banks depending on what their preferences are.”

On how to ensure members don’t default in repayment, he expressed optimism that they would always live up to their obligations.

According to him, NBA has put measures in place to mitigate risk, because even with the best of intentions, anything could happen to individuals who genuinely want to pay back.

“This is why we are standing in the back. We have worked it out and we want to approach this with the mindset that since we have done our homework well, hopefully, all will be well,” he enthused.

Deputy Managing Director, First Bank, Francis Shobo, who signed on behalf of the bank, earlier welcomed the NBA team and expressed optimism that the partnership would be mutually beneficial to both parties.

The NBA Finance Committee chairman, Seni Adio (SAN), commended Akpata for coming up with the idea and Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe, a member of the committee, who saw the process through.

“I thought by now, he should be getting tired, but he was not. When he whispered the issue to me, I thought it is one of the lofty ideas, but he was determined to get it done. He has, from the beginning, committed to delivering value to the greater majority of our members,” Adio said of Akpata.

Executive Director, Treasury & International Banking, Ini Ebong, expressed happiness that First Bank was the first to sign the MoU with the NBA. “We are ready to work with you,” he assured.

Also, the Group Executive, Retail and Commercial Banking, Lagos & West, Seyi Oyefeso, said access to finance is a big deal at all times.

As bankers, we are willing to create access to finance, but the challenge is who to lay the burden on. We are happy that this is happening with a body of professionals. At least, beneficiaries won’t like to be questioned by NBA,” he stated, adding that he wished other professional bodies could follow suit.