The banking industry in 2021 is no doubt packed with many thrilling tales, some of which are the dramatic downfall of bankers of note, some are the outside-the-box innovative diversifications, while the year also witnessed exciting elevations of women especially to head some of the leading banks in the country.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in its characteristic dynamism also introduced e-naira to fastrack development, seamless accessibility to cash among the underbanked in the rural areas, and to cut expenses on the huge amount of money often spent on printing naira notes.

 While Francis Atuche, former BankPHB Chief Executive Officer was jailed after a protracted litigation, Okonkwo was arrested and the drama led to his retirement as Chief Executive Officer of the FirstBank.

 Many heads actually rolled in the royal rumble that beset the FirstBank’s board of directors as not a few investors signified interest in controlling the rein of the A-list bank. Despite the intervention of the CBN to stabilize the situation the crisis seemed far from being over as the bank ignobly switched from one CEO to another in the year under review.

There is an unprecedented surge in the number of women taking up top positions in the banking industry in 2021, a move many financial experts said would accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.

 Described as a paradigm shift, the Nigerian banking sector has seen no fewer than eight women serving as Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)/Managing Directors (MDs) of the country’s leading banks.

The Advent of Women


 Miriam Olusanya (GTbank)

 Miriam Olusanya emerged as the first female MD/CEO of Guaranty Trust (GTB) since its establishment in 1990.

 The development is a radical move in a sector aiming to meet up with the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP) specifically in gender diversity and inclusiveness at the top management levels.

Miriam Olusanya’s appointment earned her the accolade as the first female MD of the financial institution as she succeeded Segun Agbaje.

 Olusanya, before her new position worked as an executive director at the bank, obtained her first degree in pharmacy from the University of Ibadan before she bagged a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Liverpool. She joined GTbank as an executive trainee in 1998.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (Fidelity Bank)

 Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe was named the leader of Fidelity Bank on January 1, 2021. This is the only time a woman has risen to the MD/CEO post since the organization started operation in 1988.

 Nneka is a graduate of the University of Nigeria (UNN) where she earned a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. Since joining the bank in 2015, she has attended several executive trainings in many globally acclaimed business schools.

 The new MD also has a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Kings College, London.

 Tomi Somefun (Unity Bank)

 Tomi Somefun began her journey as the MD/CEO of Unity Bank in August 2015 after a career stretching 26 years in the banking industry.

 An alumnus of the Columbia Business School and several top-level schools outside the country, she is a member of many professional associations. Her experience spans corporate banking, retail, and commercial banking operations.

 A graduate of Education in English from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Somefun also holds an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration (D.BA) from the Redeemers University, Nigeria.

 Yemi Edun (FCMB)

 Yemisi Edun became the first female MD of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) after formerly serving as acting Managing Director of the bank.

She is a member/fellow of many institutes, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the Obafemi Awolowo University, a Master’s Degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool.

 Yemisi started working in FMCB in 2000 as a Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control.

 Until her appointment as the CEO/MD of FCMB, she has held other key positions in other companies.

Bukola Smith (FSDH Merchant Bank)

 Bukola Smith has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Lagos and later bagged an MBA from the Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

 Smith has 28 years of experience in the industry and boasts an impressive profile and fellowship/membership of high-ranking institutes in the financial sector and was appointed as the MD of the bank in April 2021.

 Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Citibank)

With work experiences in South Africa and the UK among others, Ireti Samuel-Ogbu has carved her name in the sands of history after becoming the first female MD/CEO of Citibank Nigeria.

Her experience in the 36-year-old bank cuts across relationship management, sales, and corporate finance.

Halima Buba (SunTrust)

 A champion of youth and women empowerment, Halima’s 20 years of experience in the banking industry saw her taking SunTrust’s top job.

With a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Business Management from the University of Maiduguri, she is equally a member of several institutes and holds an MBA from the Borno-based educational institution. She is also a board member of other renowned institutions.

Kafilat Araoye (Lotus Bank)

 Having had a 25-year experience as a commercial banker, Kafilat leads Lotus Bank, a non-interest bank as the MD/CEO.

 She has expertise in human resources, business development, payments, international and domestic operations among others.

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