Saturday, 29 December 2007

BAT Account Is Most Challenging —Okusaga

Public Relations, PR, practice has come a long way in Nigeria. Its impact is felt from the smallest of corporate organisations, to the biggest. Bolaji Okusaga, Head Consultant in one of the leading Public Relations firms in the country; The Quadrant Company, assesses the PR practice in this interview with NCHEDO OKEKE .

Stage of PR practice today

Public Relations development in the country is not different from what you would have observed in the evolution of other senior professions like the legal profession, accounting and medical professions. What we have is that we are at a phase we can call a growth phase and the features of this phase is that a lot of things get done haphazardly, jobs will not be done as script as and clear as they should be in an ideal situation because a lot of people will want to take stake which ordinarily may not belong to them and the only way they can do that is to bury reason and go via the political and that is essentially the hallmark of a growing phase in any profession.

How old is PR practice really? When was the decree that empowered the NIPR enacted?

It was enacted under the regime of General Babangida, even though we have been operating before the decree, it stands to reason that we are nonetheless a very young profession in need of right direction and what I will counsel at this point in time is that we need to pay more attention to professionalism and jettison politics.
Bolaji Okusaga
The much more senior professions have a methodical way of doing things; they have codified rules which govern their practice and they strive as much as possible to abide by these rules and it makes things much easier for them, for example succession in terms of leadership should be something that should be taken more seriously, I can tell you that the next five successor to the position of ICAN president is already known and that is due to the way they are structured and if there is going to be any politicking it will be minimal because the room is not wide open just for anybody to come in, there are rules to these games, and for us to be able to hold our own all these rules must come to play in the NIPR.

The next stage of PR

PR like any other profession whether overtly or covertly is affected by global space, therefore PR as it is in Nigeria shouldn't be any different from what obtains in other parts of the world especially in the terms of sphere of operation. There will be cultural parameters but that will not affect the evolution of the business in terms of global appeal, in terms of acceptance of the practice on the global scale, and I can say to you that in the next twenty years you will see a PR industry that is characterise by cogent specialisation in which case people may decide to focus, for example, in the area of financial services or the capital market and you close your eyes to, may be, sport PR or entertainment PR and one could just say why don't I just concentrate on issues that affect trans-national companies or one could say let me just focus on the area of litigation communication where I will be helping my clients to obtain fair judgement in the court of public opinion in such a way that if they can get that fair public judgement it will help the way they are perceived within the legal and legislative structure of the society where they operate. Some organisations may decide to say we don't want to be involved in financial communications or litigation communications but to be focused on the area of telecommunications and information technology, because I see that is a good sector within the economy therefore I want people to know me as a specialist on the area of information technology and communications.

So in the next 20 years I see the evolution of PR practice along specialist line but that doesn't mean there will not be 'generalist' but even within the generalists set, there will be practice groups dedicated to activations along sectoral and professional lines. Therefore you will see a PR person who can speak the language of capital market and he invariably becomes an investor relations personality or a practitioner who can speak the language of the legal and legislative system and he becomes a litigation communications expert, or sport and entertainment, endorsement and sponsorship which makes such person become an expert in such field and that is what I see happening in the years ahead.

The Quadrant Company's own Specialisation

As the first service company in the country, we will continue to be a hybrid firm in the sense that while we are orienting our practice towards the specialist perspective, we will continue to offer a bag of services defined along practice groups. At the level at which our practice has attained it will be difficult for us to say we want to shed our clients in one area only to hold on to the other client in the other area that will be difficult.

Therefore we will become a PR supermarket of some sort but pointedly distinguishable in our practice since we have in-house experts in all these areas I have mentioned and that is why we are beginning to de-emphasis this idea of our being a media theorist or the traditional practitioner as seen from the agency model to the consulting model because what we want to be selling is not the fact that, we are a middle man for our clients in the media platforms but we want to be seen as critical solution to the whole chain of perception and reputation management. Therefore we are looking ahead to more technical areas like issues management, CSR impact assessment reporting and sustainability reporting which we have already started to do for a number of clients, leveraging our international affiliation with Fleishman Hillard International Communications, the biggest PR firm in the world.


I will say before now we were guilty of not being torch bearers for the profession we represent. We are at fault in our wisdom by saying a practitioner should be a practitioner while the professional body should busy themselves with providing leadership and advice on global trends, but having observed the weakness of the professional body, what I can tell you is that we are also working on what the ideal should be in the industry in such a way that once the industry benefits then we ultimately benefit. So part of our strategy will be along the lines of thought leadership, to begin to shape thoughts in the area of current trend in our practice as opposed to an over localisation of practice which does not allow us to go global in terms of our perspective, in terms of our world view and practice.

Another thing is that we are committed in the days ahead to start publishing PR Quarterly which will be focused on germane issues in terms of global practice, for instance this whole idea of word of mouth marketing, social networking and a number of other modern day practice parameters which have become the norm in the western world which we are yet to catch up with will be things that we will be focusing on. For instance we can not deny the fact that children now understand what is meant by yahoo; they know the difference between Hi-Five and Facebook. These are social networking sites which the little kids at home are already used to and so why will a PR company not offer services that help to leverage the perception, the reputation of the clients they work for on this new platform? Why do we still continue to over flog the traditional platforms when we now have different conduits that can help deliver the goods for our clients? So those are the things we will be looking at very critically. We will not only be educating ourselves but also the marketers in the industry in such a way that when these practices which are already norms in the western world become part of our business here it will be easier for practitioners and our clients to really adopt them and use them, these are the things we will be doing in the days ahead.

Most challenging account

Our British American Tobacco (BAT) account has been a bit challenging, because we are beginning to see a transfer of the tobacco war of America and Europe of the late 70s and the early 80s into the Nigerian environment. The unfortunate thing about the Nigerian reality as we may ask is whether they are really altruistic or mercantilists, the reality on ground is that we may ask ourselves that before the entrance of BAT into this market, were people not actually smoking and if they were, where were they getting the cigarettes from and if they were getting the cigarette what was the attitude of the government to the sales of cigarette in this economy, was it helping to develop the infrastructure? Was it helping to empower communities? Were they helping in employment? Were they helping to empower farmers? All of these were absent before the coming to the country of BAT.

But with the coming of BAT as a foreign direct investment (FDI) in response to the calls of the last administration, tobacco business has now began to be seen as a responsible business that can empower local farmers in local community where we operate, that now gives economic empowerment to trade partners and distributors, that is also giving employment to people who work for the organisation and that has been called the largest exporter in the fast moving consumer goods sector and the largest payer of taxes all within the space of five years, corporate taxes from both the excise and the value added tax perspective. In terms of operation, you may want to ask if its operation is a responsible one to which I will say yes and I will say the rule of the game should be communicated. We accept that consumption of tobacco is dangerous and we have communicated upfront, so it is a question of choice. Do we adhere to world practice in the tobacco trade? The answer is yes! Are we helping to develop the community where we operate, are we giving back to the community in terms of corporate social responsibility, are we empowering farmers and trade partners- the answer to all these is yes.

Nigeria: 47 Years Of Growth In Advertising Industry


NIGERIA’S advertising business has witnessed tremendous growth especially in recent times. Seen from the view point of agency billings and proliferation of advertising agencies and media houses, both state and private print and broadcast, the industry is indeed experiencing the best of times.

While major players in the industry have hit the billions of naira billings mark the collective billing for the industry is expected to hit the N50 billion target by the end of the year. Specifically Insight-Grey, centrespread FCB, Rosabel Leo Burnett, SO &U Saatchi and Saatchi, DDB Lagos, Lowe Hintas, Prima Garnet Ogilvy and STB McCann are among the big players in the industry that have crossed the billion naira mark. Others are working hard to reach there in no time.

The growth in the industry in recent years could be attributed to the recapitalization exercise by banks, a directive of the apex bank, Central Bank of Nigeria and liberalization of the telecommunication industry which broke NITEL’s monopoly thereby attracting private investments in the industry. The two key economic development engendered tremendous marketing communication activities with agencies raking in millions of naira worth advert billings.

Though the business is witnessing colossal growth, the industry, like most business sectors of the economy, had its humble beginning rooted in colonial history, advertising developmnt could be traced to abou 1928 with the birth of West African Publicity Limited. An off shoot of UAC, the company was set up to catter for the marketing activities of the colonial masters in both Nigeria and West Africa. This compny was later to transform to a full fledged advertising firm in 1929 known as Lintas with two other subsidaries newly Afromedia, the outdoor medium and Pearl/Dean, the cinema arm. With the setting up of the companies then headed by expertriates, the companies were to enjoy a monopoly for a long time to come it was not until 1950’s when other advertising agencies started to emerge on the scene. Ogilvy, Benson and Martha (OBM) and Grant were later to join the fray to form the big three in the industry.

The medium of advertising was in its infancy in those days Federal Government owned National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) where he only television stations that operated in the four regions of East, West, North and later midwest. These regions later set up their private stations pionered by the West, at Ibadan, prior to independence. In 1960 and 1962 respectively, Enugu and Kaduna followed suit. And with the creation of more regions by the General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) administration and creation of more states by both Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Ibrahim Babangida regimes, more state government-owned television and radio stations were established.

Daily Times, Express, Tribune, New Nigeria and Sketch were among the fore-runners in newspaper publishing. Some state governments also published newspapers that addressed their local audience. Two major magazines- Drum and Spear from Daily Tims stable were also at the time published.

Btween the early 1960’s and 1970, there was no spectacular development in the industry. But the promulgation of Nigeria Enterprises as promotion Decree of 1972 popularly known as Indegenization policy urshed in a new phase in the industry. The policy transformed key positions in corporate organisations to indegenes. Mr Silvester, Muoemeka was by the dictates of the policy to emerge the first indegeneous chief executive of Lintas. Lintas further empowered more Nigerians to take up the business of advertising some of whom had to leave broadcasting to embrace the new thinking.

By the later 1970’s however, two ambitious agencies, Rosabel Advertising and Insight Communication, sprang up. The coming of the two agencies which till today are still doing very well, no doubt, was a watershed in the industry of advertising in Nigeria as the agencies brought new ideas into the industry while taking creativity to a higher. Before the turn of the decade, 23 agencies had been formed.

With the steady growth in the number of practitioners and agencies arose the need for associations to be formed to advance their common interests and a regulatory body to that would regulate and standardize advertising practice. A meeting of the agencies held at Ebute Metta, Lagos in 1971 was to metamorphose into Association of Advertising Practitioners of Nigeria (AAPN) with the objective of protecting practitioners against unfavourable business. The association was later renamed Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria. As the industry continued to grow in volume of business and complexity, more and more people were attracted to the industry. The need to establish an institution to regulate advertising practice became apparent. This gave rise to the establishment of Advertising Parishioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) by Decree 55 of 1988, later renamed Act 55 of 1988 by the civilian administration on November 1989, the first meeting of the association held somewhere in Ebute-meta, Lagos finally culminated to the birth of APCON.

APCON started operation in 1990 with the employment of the pioneer registrar in the person of Dr Charles Okigbo.The era of economic restructuring and liberalization opened up the Nigerian business to global economy. Foreign investments started flowing into the economy the expatriates who once left the shores of the land due to the indigenization policy gradually returned. And with them, the boom in economy. Aside, privatization of mass communication medium in the 1990’s also witnessed the setting up of private owned media houses which are platforms for advertisement placements.

"But in the 1990’s the sector came alive. Not only that alarming and ambitions agencies such as Prima Garnet, Sotu and Casesrs sprang up, the sector began to expand beyond advertising as full services public relation firms such as the Quadrant JSP and Quest were established. Also the era witnessed the mad rush of foreign affiliations. While some agencies sought this affiliation to help boost their human capital, others just joined the bandwagon just to feel among."
As the business expanded, related services providers joined the fray to cash in on the boom. Not long after they formed themselves into association to also further heir cause and protect their interest. Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN) emerged. Not long the industry became an all corners affairs. Competition became very stiff and practitioners started adopting unwholesome means to undercut one another. Industry debt became a major issue to the extent that it attracted the attention of past federal government who encouraged the practitioners to find a way of resolving the perennial problem. Just as competition continued to get stiff, agencies did not rest on their oars as they embarked on training of their staff who will be able to meet the challenge of modern day advertising.

As creativity took centre stage, the industry witnessed a lot of innovation and creative ideas. The foreigners who started coming back brought with them standard and professional which changed the advertising landscape.Restructuring, training and brand building and creativity have taken centre stage.

Today, Nigerian advertising industry, is making efforts to ensure that they measured up to global industry practice. Affiliations also avails them of technical knowhow in the areas of creativity and training.

From deploying foreign adverts, the industry has grown to shooting their adverts locally and injecting a lot of local content in their campaigns. Consumers can now better connect with advertisements that run on their local media.

To ensure continuous improvement in creative standards, AAAN setup an annual creative awards, festival Lagos Advertising and Ideas Award (LAIF). A brainchild of the immediate past executive led by DDB Lagos Managing Director and Chief Executive, Mr Enyi Odigbo, the festival sets out to encourage the members of the association to continue to develop their creative ideas and improve creative standards in order to retain clients confidence. The second edition of the festival comes up on October, 2007. Aside local advertising festival, stakeholders are venturing outside the shores of the land to participate in international advertising festivals. Last year and this year, a number of Nigerian agencies participated in the annual Cannes Lions Advertising Festival holding in Cannes, Frances. Though they are unable to win awards, there is no gainsaying that they have gained a lot of knowledge through exposure to award winning creative and through networking.

Away from creative awards the regulatory body of advertising, APCON, is living up to expectations by the measures put in place to sanitize the industry. Of note is professionalizing the practice to ensure that qacks are reduced if not flushed out completely. Again measures are adopted to ensure practitioners operate within set advertising standards. Chairman of APCON, Mr Chris Dogwudje has said one of his cardinal objectives is to fight quackery in the industry. One major step taken towards achieving this objective was the recent notice to all agencies to settle the arrears of their practice fees by the end of last month. The council will any moment from now publish list of registered practitioners. In recognition of the role APCON plays in the industry other sectional associations sought for seats and today al stakeholders including broadcasting organisation of Nigeria (BON), Media Independent Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Newspapers proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), the stakeholders are working together to ensure that the standard of practice in the country compares with global practice. In addition, the bodies are collaborating to ensure peaceful coexistence among them.

A key area where the stakeholders have agree to collaborate was in tackling the persistent industry debt. Over the years debt burden had threatened to tear apart the stakeholders. Recently the group took a bold step to resolve the issue.

A 13-member committee was recently appointed by APCON to seek an enduring solution to the problem that threatened to destroy the industry. Another major achievement in this area was the landmark signing or a communique by the heads of all sectorial groups to bring the debt issue to an end. Prior to this period, it had been an arduous task to get them to agree. But with this major break through, brighter days await the industry in future.

From a humble 23 membership strength in early 1970’s to its present 93 strong membership, from three big agencies to about ten presently and from a cumulative advert billings of about N20 million to projected estimate of N50 billion by the end of the year, the industry has recovered a colossal growth, in the volume of businesses, number of practitioners and in improving standards. Worth of note is the role the industry plays in job creation and branding Nigeria project. As more foreign direct investments come into the country, it is expected that in the years ahead the industry would continue to experience quantum leap.

Sourced from Daily Champion Monday, December 10, 2007

Nigeria Customs and the Re-Branding of Nigeria

By Buba Gyang Sunday, December 16, 2007

Excerpts of an address delivered by Buba Gyang, controller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service at the Guild of Editors conference in Bauchi recently

The strategic role of the Nigeria Customs Service in the economic development of the country and its ongoing reforms and modernisation must have influenced the decision to invite me to speak on this topic. While acknowledging the fact that the wealth of a nation is the fountain from where it derives its strength, it is also obviously important to note that the image of the country has a lot to do with its role and influence in a globalised economy. The Nigeria Customs Service being one of the key agencies in the management of the fiscal policies of government must strategically, functionally, operationally and attitudinally reposition itself to play this vital role using internationally acceptable practices.

In re-branding Nigeria, the public sector reforms, which started from the last administration and are being vigorously pursued by the present administration are central to the subject under consideration. The Nigeria Customs Service which is one of the public sector agencies placed in the fore of these reforms makes the choice of the topic most pertinent. My understanding of this topic is simply to speak on how far the Service has gone in its various concerted efforts at evolving a fresh image for our country. This is a country , which has been branded as being very corrupt with very high cost of doing business. The Nigeria Customres Service as weall know is one of the public sector agencies that unfortunately wear this dirty toga of corruption - rightly or wrongly. To re-brand Nigeria therefore, the Nigeria Customs Service has a major role to play.

The over-a-century long history of the service has witnessed various reforms aimed at repositioning the Service in accordance with the dictates of any particular epoch. Thus, under the current wave of re-branding Nigeria, a reform committee charged with the responsibility of making an in-dept assessment of the Nigeria Customs Service to identify key factors militating against optimal performance in the Service and making recommendations that will further reposition the service for effective and efficient service delivery was set up during the last administration. Implementation of the accepted recommendations of the Committee led to the ongoing structural and operational reforms which are invariably translating into the modernisation of service operations.

While the service is still being headed by a comptroller-general, the previous six departments each of which was headed by deputy comptroller-general are now merged into three while the former six administrative zones headed by assistant comptroller-general have been reduced to four. In the same vein, the erstwhile 53 operational area commands headed by comptrollers have been merged and reduced to 26. In this connection, a sizable number of officers and men were retired as a result of the changes. Also in conformity with the ongoing reforms in the public sector, a further down-sizing and right-sizing was carried out in line with the new scheme of service. This is more so in view of the introduction of the much talked about Information Technology which is the trend worldwide.

Thus, with the new scheme of service, only the best will henceforth remain in the service. The implementation of this scheme alongside the general reforms in the public sector has seen many of our officers and men being painfully disengaged from the service. However, the scheme provides a wide room for officers and men who aspire to rise to the highest promotion level, to develop themselves academically and technically so as to remain relevant in the scheme of things. Presently, promotion progression terminates at the assistant comptroller-general level while the positions of both the comptroller-general and deputy comptroller-general which have never been promotional positions still remain by appointment at the discretion of the President. One of the objectives of the current exercise is to ensure high quality personnel/workforce and hence high quality service delivery. This objective is being pursued vigorously.

The strategic role of the Nigeria Customs Service in the economic development of the country, more than anything else, makes modernisation of customs operations uncompromisingly imperative. Thus, in aligning with the re-branding of Nigeria, we have taken many bold steps to keep pace with emerging and developing trends in international trade. Particular attention has, therefore, been focused on major areas such as data automation and computerisation of the service operations, electronic scanning system of examination of goods, destination inspection of all imports, inter-connectivity between customs and stakeholders, training and capacity building, concession of port facilities as well as reinvigorated anti-smuggling machinery. The general objectives of these reforms are geared towards the facilitation of legitimate trade in the country, ensuring credible economic growth and hence self actualisation.

Destination Inspection of Goods:

The destination inspection of imports now reverted to by the government is neither strange nor new to the Nigeria Customs Service. For the avoidance of doubt, the term 'Destination Inspection' in customs terminology is indeed a misnomer. The concept is only correct to the extent that the goods are no longer subject to pre-shipment inspection. Within the Nigeria Customs Service context, it is nothing but the handing back to the service its core duties that deal with assessment valuation, classification and origin. This has been the practice with all customs administrations the world over until the introduction of the Pre-Shipment Inspection Scheme. Even, during that regime, the service, despite being denied its core duties, was able to prove its competence as it challenged quite a number of large sums of additional revenue usually collected as underpayment on goods that already went through the pre-shipment Inspectors as well as seizures of banned goods, which such inspection was expected to prevent. In this regard, may I state categorically that the Nigeria Customs Service is alive and responsive to its statutory obligations at all times despite the fact that the scheme denied the service of developing capacity through training in those core areas.

Since its reintroduction, the Service accepts the success of destination inspection as very crucial to the re-branding of Nigeria project. Hence, various strategies have been mapped out and introduced to ensure a resounding success in guaranteeing legitimate trade facilitation using international best practices. Some of these include, erecting DTI cyber-cafes for use of traders/agents who are yet to automate their offices for online documentation, the simplification of Customs processes and procedures and introduction of fast track clearing as well as risk assessment and management techniques. We are not unmindful of risks associated with fast track clearing hence our determination to strengthen the risk management mechanism to cope with such risks. The newly instituted risk management team is working closely with the service providers who are also building their capacities for optimal performance while legitimate trade facilitation is a task that must be achieved. The service is conscious of issues that border on security. Consequently, we have decided to strike a functional balance between facilitation and security for maximum effect.

Still on the re-branding project, the government has concessioned out the nation's seaports to private operators. Most of these ports which were built for handling bulk cargo and transit shed system of the then international trading order, still maintain the status quo in spite of the shift to modern cargo containerisation system of trading. The concessioners have now opened up the ports for container traffic and created open stacking space as a result of the demolition of the obsolete transit sheds. The ports are strategically equipped to take in more cargo traffic thus eliminating the usual congestion of the past, while enhancing speedy clearance and movements of cargo within the spot. That is not to say that all is well now. In actual fact, the concessioners need to redouble their development pace in order to justify the confidence reposed in them.

ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETLS:

This Scheme has collapsed all Customs barrier to legitimate regional trade in goods and services wholly or substantially produced within the sub-region. This is the exclusion of goods and services wholly or substantially produced in third world countries, the purpose is to address fundamental issues of developing the productive sector of the regional economies, employment and integration. After all, it is a well-known fact that with importation from third countries, we pay for the labour of the youths of those countries while ours languish in unemployment.

Anti-Smuggling Campaign

Notwithstanding the cancellation of the pre-shipment inspection scheme which was attributed to some of the smuggling activities of that time, as a result of some impatient traders who were cutting corners to avoid the cumbersome process of the scheme, we are not unmindful of some hardened smugglers who rather than take advantage of the reversal to destination inspection would prefer to take undue advantage of the extensively porous expanse of land that constitutes our borderlines to smuggle. Combating smuggling which is one of our main statutory duties is of utmost interest to us and we are determined to leave no stone unturned in ensuring unqualified success. Thus, our reinvigorated anti-smuggling onslaught is poised towards a total war on the suppression of smuggling activities by whatever medium of perpetration. With air surveillance being added to our anti-smuggling offensives, it is our resolve to ensure that any perpetrator of smuggling activities be made to realise how highly unprofitable and difficult the illegal business can be. Our records of interception of smugglers and their goods year-in-year- out is a clear evidence of our resolve on this matter. Apart from the ordinary goods, we are also not relenting in our secondary duty on security items such as arms and ammunition as well as dangerous drugs. Thus, seizures of such items are always promptly transferred to the concerned agency of government.


The Nigeria Customs Service is fully conscious of its responsibilities and will strive to remain an important player not only in the re-branding of Nigeria, but also in the world economic integration process. It is in view of this that we have not lost sight of the challenges associated with the need for expediting simplification of customs procedures, expansion of the introduced fast track clearance, improvement of the risk assessment and management techniques, further improvement and implementation of a software solution that will meet the requirements of a modern customs organisation, mobilisation for attitudinal change and advanced personnel skills development. While we are resolute on these challenges, it is, however, important to mention at this juncture that the responsibility of cargo clearance operation, albeit the implementation of import procedure in general, goes beyond the purview of the Nigeria Customs Service only. There are other stakeholders without whose cooperation, the attainment of the desired goal of re-branding Nigeria shall remain a dream rather than reality.

On the whole, nothing has challenged the integrity of the service more than the vexed question of corruption. It is very unfortunate that it has beclouded public appreciation of the successful performance of the service in many aspects. As you are well aware, we are faced with multi-dimensional attitudinal problems. It begins with us as officers, then the trading public, the licensed customs agents and other regulatory agencies in the trade facilitation business. Therefore, we must all brace-up for meaningful results in our efforts to facilitate international trade. With a positive change in attitude, compliance and automation of procedures, every tendency for corrupt practice will naturally be frustrated.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Intercontinental Bank Rebrands

New Identity for the Biggest Bank

By Sebastine Obasi Sunday, November 25, 2007

Intercontinental Bank rebrands itself in line with its vision to play a leading role in the banking industry. Intercontinental Bank PLC is determined to be a major global player in the banking industry. As part of measures to actualise this vision, the bank last week unveiled a new corporate identity tagged, "Good to Great." The new corporate logo has the hexagon as its primary identity icon with dominant colours of blue and yellow.

At the unveiling ceremony, Erastus Akingbola, group chief executive officer of the bank, stated that the hexagon represents the six continents of the world where the bank wants its presence to be felt.According to him, it is in line with the bank's new vision of being number one in Nigeria, number one in Africa and among the world's top 100 banks. "Our new identity represents the stronger and more dominant role the bank now plays in the global banking landscape. This rebranding is orchestrated by a strong drive and commitment to insightful partnership with our customers and other stakeholders," he said. According to Akingbola, the rebranding was underscored by the need to be more visible and bold in reshaping the Intercontinental Bank brand in the eyes of the public.

He further explained that with the rebranding, Intercontinental Bank would raise the bar of customer service, continually delight customers with services and products and consistently guarantee customers' safety and personalised service. "Our promise to the investors is that we are ready to re-enact the impressive performance that has made us to stand out in the banking industry," he said.

He pointed out that the bank believes in creating and sustaining happiness for its customers, hence it is constantly raising its services to meet the needs and expectations of its increasing, discerning customers and other stakeholders. The hexagon, he added symbolises the bank's foremost attributes and strength, which are in the power of its relationship with customers and stakeholders. He highlighted other attributes of the brand as safety, stability, visionary originality and being responsive.

Raymond Obieri, chairman of the bank, said the nation's banking industry was on the threshold of a new revolution, global competition and partnership. This means that in the new dispensation, only the bank that is a compelling brand on a global scale, one with a strong financial muscle and outstanding managerial competence will compete effectively. "Our vision is to enthrone a truly world class and Intercontinental Bank with presence in all the continents of the world," he said, adding, "The new identity will help position the brand in good stead for global competition."

The chairman further explained that the bank has embarked on a bold global expansion strategy that will project it to be a major global bank in the near future. In that regard, Intercontinental is operating a five-brand offshore subsidiary bank in Ghana. It equally plans to open more subsidiary banks in Africa and leading business centers of the world soon. "Our growth is primed at further enhancing our reputation for outstanding financial performance, excellent customer service delivery and leadership of the banking industry," Obieri said.

Intercontinental Bank is one of Nigeria's biggest banks by capital, the fifth biggest bank in Africa and the only Nigerian bank among the world 500 banks. According to the Banker Magazine a subsidiary of Financial Times of London, Intercontinental is the second fastest growing bank in the world currently. It has a shareholders fund of N177 billion, a network of 300 branches and total asset base of N8.18 billion. It started operation in 1989 as Nigerian Intercontinental Merchant Bank.

culled from Newswatch magazine