UBA CEO Speaks at SLAJ Triennial Meeting

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Mr Usman Isiaka, the Managing Director or the Chief Executive Officer for the United Bank for Africa Sierra Leone had given a key note address on towards an economically viable and independent media: media viability, and what opportunities exist in the banking sector at the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists meeting in Makeni.

See press statement below.

“I will start my statement with these two famous quotes from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of United States of America from 1933 till his death in 1945: “Freedom of conscience, of education, of speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged”.

 “Freedom of the press is essential to the preservation of a democracy; but there is a difference between freedom and license. Editorialists who tell downright lies in order to advance their own agendas do more to discredit the press than all the censors in the world”. These statements combined, have significant implications towards the evolution and development of an economically viable and independent media in any society, which is the Theme of this august gathering. Freedom of the press must be guaranteed not only as one of the very fundamentals of Democracy as posited by Franklin Roosevelt, but a condition sine qua non absolutely necessary for social economic development of nations.

On the contrary, media organizations that make false reporting and downright telling of lies to advance their own agenda as their modus of operandi will never be economically viable in the long run and will certainly soon meet its demise! Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be here this morning hobnobbing with the nation’s conscience.

You are the great men and women of the noble fourth estate who pride themselves in accurate information dissemination and timeliness, providing opportunities for both sides of a story to be heard, drawing our attention to the good and not so good of our society, educating and sometimes entertaining us. Sometimes, one wonders how the world would have been without the media. At the outset, therefore and representing an institution that strongly shares the beliefs and ideals of the media society, I thank you for allowing me to deliver the keynote address at such an important fixture in your Association’s calendar. The longstanding and rich relationship between the media fraternity in Sierra Leone and the UBA speaks for itself! May I also emphasise that the global level relationship between the Sierra Leone media and the UBA Group is strategically important. The Group Chairman of UBA Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu, strongly believes in the power of the media and its positive role in propelling the Pan African Agenda of the UBA Group. I am also a media convert, a darling of the media! It is for the above reasons that I wish to particularly acknowledge the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Mr Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, and his entire Executives for extending an invitation to UBA to talk on the theme, “Towards an economically viable and independent media: media viability, and what opportunities exist in the banking sector”, But before that, let me also pay tribute to all government representatives here, members of the Independent Media Commission (IMC) and all affiliate bodies of SLAJ, fellow speakers, and most importantly, our esteemed delegates for your diverse contributions to this worthy profession of journalism and taking your time to be here this morning. As the world becomes increasingly developed with technological advancement coming into play, businesses and entrepreneurs are under constant pressure to keep up with the world’s fast-changing progress. In such a time, it is businesses that are ready to shape their model to fit into the competing sequence of time that will thrive and do so for the longest of time. The media is not an exception to these changes. Therefore, as a customer-centric bank, I boldly say UBA has stood out as one of those financial institutions seizing the opportunity to improve its business dynamics to serve our customers the best of products and services. Media is a serious business in many parts of the world. A media institution can strategically place itself in tapping on the advantages of this fast-changing world with the advent of the new media when media owners start thinking and putting into action strategies in developing their media institutions. Operating a successful media house goes beyond just reporting news. Media owners must implore strategic media management to survive in today’s competitive world running the business as an independent and well-structured corporate entity with clear mission, vision and business strategies to achieve its short and long term goals. You must separate your individual finances from the business finance! Set up business accounts not personal ones in operating your media institutions. Create strong management structures within your media institutions with clearly defined responsibilities, e.g, the Editorial Team, Marketing Department, Finance & Admin, Human Resource Department, Information Technology etc and properly resource them as will be determined by the scale of operation of your outfit. These are good corporate governance practices that a financial institution will expect to see in a media organization to provide them the much needed access to finance to grow the business and become economically viable. In my experience with the media in Sierra Leone, media owners are so talented as they see themselves handling all these functions. That is not a way of running a sustainable business that will meet the requirement of financial institutions in granting credit facility that may be required for growth beyond the limited resources of the owners. Lucy Küng published a book in 2008 titled “Strategic Management in the Media- Theory and Practice.” Her book highlights rich analyses and real-life case examples of the contemporary developments and strategic challenges in the complex digital media environment. This is one of the rare books in the field of media management that analyses the media industry and media organisations from the perspective of strategic management which I enjoin you to read and internalize for accelerated growth and economic viability of your outfit in today’s fast changing world largely driven by technology and innovation. Globally, the media industry has changed during the past decades in such an unprecedented and radical way that issues related to strategy, management, organisational renewal, and business model innovations are more acute than ever. For example, regarding issues related to technological changes, digital technology has become the main driver of change and success or failure in the media industry to align the development of the media space with the fast changing consumer behaviors and increasing adoption of the new media. Media companies worldwide are struggling to understand and adjust to wide-ranging external and internal changes that are altering modes of production, rapidly increasing competition, eroding their traditional audience and advertiser bases, altering established market dominance patterns, and changing the potential of firms. The integrity and objectivity of the news being reported by a media outfit is also a critical success factor for economic viability. For instance, no bank will like to lend money to a media organization that is frequently being taken to court for libelous publications. Media viability and what opportunities exist in the banking sector Brand Equity and brand visibility is a critical business success factors for banks. They promote this largely from three perspectives; the quality of products and services they offer to their customers, their corporate social responsibility initiatives and advertisement to show case the products and services as well as CSR activities of the bank. In the later lies the significant business opportunity for the media in the banking sector. At this point, it is very important for you to understand that your brand is what people know about you and not what you know about yourself. In brief, for our purposes here, media visibility can be defined as the attention a firm receives from the media and the prominence of this coverage to other stories. Taking a case with UBA as a reference. Today, UBA Sierra Leone enjoys a lot of media visibility because of the relationship the bank has established with the media. Our presence here today is a testament to that. We currently run Top-strips adverts on 20 local newspaper front pages, which we humbly take credit for. Perhaps no bank is doing that much now in the country. We give radio jingles to a good number of radio stations, all the major TV Stations are running our TV commercials. These activities showcase the bank’s support of the media business in Sierra Leone. This visibility we enjoy is not cheap, as running a sustainable advertorial in print and electronic media for brand and product visibility comes with a considerable cost. As a bank, we see this as a win-win media relation which we will continue to uphold and improve on. The opportunities that exist in the banking sector for the media At UBA, we provide the following business support: • Deliver financial value through granting loan schemes which can be used to grow your business. Specifically, you can enjoy any of the following credit facilities from UBA: o UBA SME Loans o Overdraft Facility to meet short term financing gap or working capital requirement o Term Loan to fund investment in assets and new equipment o All these are subject to meeting the Risk Acceptance Criteria of the Bank which include having good corporate governance practices as earlier highlighted in this address. • Enrolment as Remittance or Agency Banking Sub-Agents • Engagement as Vendors and Service Providers • Granting business capacity and financial literacy training through our UBA Business Series • Provide user-friendly digital platforms to improve the banking experiences of our customers • Fixed deposit & Treasury Bill Investment – As a bank, we learned that Sierra Leone’s government grants SLAJ the sum of $500,000 annually. SLAJ can invest some of this money as a fixed deposit so the funds can generate income • Opportunity for non-refundable start-up seed capitals to entrepreneurs through the TEF Foundation, founded by UBA Group Chairman, Mr. Tony Elumelu which UBA is promoting in the country”.

Const. 056 Bye-election…

 Political Party Rallies banned

The political party registration commission in a joint press release with the Electoral commission Sierra Leone has temporarily banned constituency 056 Bye-election in Sambaia Bendugu Tonkolili District.

The press release said Pursuant to their Constitutional and Statutory mandates, the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) and the Electoral Commission Sierra Leone (ECSL), in consultation with the Office of National Security (ONS) wish to inform the Leadership of the All Peoples Congress (APC) and the Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) that effective Monday 13 June 2022, all Political Party Rallies for the bye-election in Constituency 056 in Tonkolili District are banned until further notice.

According to the press release, the decision is informed by the violence that occurred during the APC rally on Tuesday 7 June, 2022 in Sambaia Bendugu which culminated in personal attacks and the destruction of private properties in the said locality.

Both Commissions deem this unfortunate event with distaste and in contravention of instructive provisions of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone, the Political Parties Act of 2002, the Public Elections Act of 2012, and the Code of Conduct for Political Parties, Candidates and Supporters.

“In the interim, the campaign calendar issued by ECSL remains valid on the condition that Parties can only now campaign on their respective dates in a designated location within the constituency 1.e. Town Halls, Barrays, or Open Fields, and must inform the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) of the location at least 24 hours before the event” the press release said.

The release advised that both the PPRC and ECSL, therefore, call on the Leadership of the Sierra Leone Police to expedite the investigation of the event of 7 June, 2022, and bring to book those responsible for the violence. In the issuance of this Press Release, the Security Sector is duly informed.

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