University Press Plc has declared a 5k dividend per share for the 2020/2021 financial year that ended on March 31, 2021and assured shareholders of increased profitability and dividend for the current financial year.
Mr Obafunso Ogunkeye, the Chairman, Board of Directors who gave the assurance on Thursday in Ibadan at the company’s Annual General Meeting said that in spite of the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the publishing sector, which necessitated closure of schools, the company still performed fairly well.
Ogunkeye said: “The question of increase in profitability hinges on so many factors, many of which are not within our control such as insecurity, depreciation of the value of naira, inflation and the pandemic.
“And, if we are to go by last year and our report for the first quarter in 2021, we are hopeful that we will do better than last year.
“Necessarily, payment of dividend or the amount to be paid to shareholders would improve over what we have in the 2020/2021 financial year.”
The chairman said the company has the history of payment of dividend immediately after the general meetings.
He said that this had been followed in the last 15 to 20 years, hence the commitment to keep it up in spite of the pandemic.
“The government is trying its best; it is only that some of these challenges are overwhelming and we sympathise with the government.
“This is because some of the challenges are not out of the doings of the government, whether by commission or omission, such as the pandemic; it is not what is within the control of government.
“As regards government economic policies, we sympathise with the government and we are only working within the constraints of what we have.
“Insecurity is a big issue and if that were to be curtailed we are sure that the business environment will improve substantially,” Ogunkeye said.
Also, the Managing Director, University Press Plc, Mr Samuel Kolawole, appealed to the government to do more to create the necessary enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
“Forex instability is a huge problem for bringing in the inputs that are needed for doing business the way we should do.
“Infrastructure deficit is still there; whatever the government is doing, they should do a lot more to make the business environment conducive.
“The issue of multiple taxations and uncertainty surrounding taxation issues have to be resolved so that those in businesses can concentrate on what they know how to do best. We don’t need to carry all these burdens on us,” he said.
Kolawole said the company has foresight to leverage technology and explore other competitive edges it has for more productivity in the publishing industry.
“But, we have already started working, even before now.
“As you know, our financial year starts in April, and if you look at our performance so far this year, you will see that we have recovered from the challenges of pandemic and we are doing better than we did last year.
“So, we have continued to improve and we hope we get better.
“We are not going to get there in one day as it is not an easy task to bounce back from the challenges of 2020, as schools were the first to be closed when the pandemic hit the country.
“It affected our customers base, but we are recovering from it.
“In this current year, we are doing more than we did last year,” he said.
In his remarks, one of the shareholders, Mr Eric Akinduro, commended the company for having the interest of shareholders at heart and demanded better performance.
Akinduro, also the Chairman, Ibadan Zone Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said: “When you look at what is happening all over the world, University Press is not immuned from what is happening.
“But, we still need to commend the effort of the board, management and staff.
“The five kobo we are getting though, it is too small, it is coming out of the passion and the commitment of the board, management and staff, because the result is not too good.
“We commend them and we want them to look at ways of making it more dynamic so that next time we can have a better result to talk about.
“One of the things that affected the company is government change of curriculum, leading to more obsolete inventory and then, our attitude toward book reading in Africa is not too good.
“But, they are still trying to make sure that they are available and performing.”