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By on December 20, 2015

As Nigerian banks grapple with various challenges in recent times, perhaps, one of the lessons learnt is the need to think beyond the box in seeking answers to various questions raised by a raft of regulatory headwinds and emerging difficulties in the banking landscape.

Expectedly, banks, like players in other sectors of the economy have had to reassess their operations, retool, rejig their human resources as well as set aside huge sums to acquire technology deemed capable of giving them an edge as the competition becomes fiercer.

This explains the emergence of new trends in banks. One of such is the emerging culture of appointing women to head banks’ boards. In the past, the headship of board was a position exclusively preserved for men.

Although, quite a number of women had run banks at the level of chief executives, however, it was only Chief Bola Kuforiji-Olubi that had the singular opportunity to chair the board of a bank when she presided over the United Bank for Africa (UBA) with her appointment by the federal government in 1984 and she called the shot in that capacity till 1990.

Her successful tenure encouraged other financial institutions to entrust their institutions in the hands of female chief executives. The list included, Funke Osibodu in Union Bank, Sola Adeoti and Sola Ayodele both of the defunct City Express Bank, Cecilia Ibru of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Suzzane Iroche of the defunct Finbank, Bola Adesola of Standard Chartered and Sola David-Borha, of Stanbic IBTC.

However, from all indications, Nigerian financial institutions are now being emboldened to move a step higher by appointing women to lead their boards.

The board of First Bank Nigeria Plc attracted attention in September this year when it announced the appointment of Mrs. Ibukun Awosika as the chairman of the bank.

Guaranty Trust Bank followed suit with the appointment of Osaretin Afusat Demuren as its board chairman.

Earlier, on July 30, 2015, Access Bank announced the appointment of Mrs Mosun Belo-Olusoga as the new chairman.

Ibukun Awosika

Awosika, the current chairman of First Bank is the founder and chairman of the Chair Centre Ltd, a market leader in the office furniture and banking security systems industries. She graduated with a BSc. in Chemistry from the University of Ife. She is also an alumnus of the executive programme of Lagos Business School and the global executive MBA programme of the prestigious IESE Business School, Barcelona, Spain.

Awosika’s working career started with Akintola Williams & Co. (now Deloitte) as an audit trainee during her national youth corps service. Thereafter, she worked at Alibert Nigeria Ltd, a furniture company, as showroom manager. Three and a half months after her employment, she resigned her position to set up her own furniture manufacturing company, Quebees Ltd, from which The Chair Centre Ltd later evolved.

She cofounded the Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC), a national career centre in Lagos, which was set up in September 2007 to address the high rates of unemployment in the country by helping Nigerian graduates’ become employable and good assets to the economy.

In addition, she independently established another ultra-modern furniture facility, furniture manufacturers’ mart, in Lagos in the later part of 2006. As a woman driven by passion to excel and make a significant difference, Awosika’s entrepreneurial exploits manifested in the opening of the new branches of the Chair Centre Ltd in Accra (Ghana), Tinapa and Calabar.

She is the immediate past chairperson of the board of trustees of Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ). She is currently the Chairperson of Intermac, the organisers of SmartCard Conferences in Nigeria and Kenya, and a director on the board of First Bank of Nigeria Plc (before becoming chairman).

Awosika is not the only director of the First Bank Holding moving up in terms of responsibility. The changes in the holding company threw up the current Executive Director, South, First Bank of Nigeria (FirstBank) Limited, Mr. U.K Eke, to replace Mr. Bello Maccido, as Group Managing Director-designate, FBN Holdings Plc.

The current Chairman of FirstBank, Prince Ajibola Afonja also retires and Mrs. Ibukun Awosika takes over as the new Chairman of the bank.

While the current Executive Director/CFO, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, emerged Managing Director-designate of the live wire of the Group, FirstBank, the current Executive Director, Lagos & West, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, emerged Deputy Managing Director-designate, a new office that may have been created to avoid the previous rigour in arriving at who becomes helmsman of the bank subsequently.

Speaking on the appointments, the Group Chairman, FBNH, Mr. Oba Otudeko, said: “Following an exhaustive and competitive process, we are proud to announce these appointments. In reaching these decisions, we were mindful of the imperatives for a more efficient group structure that will benefit the group’s need to deploy systems which deepen efficiency while expanding revenue and returns on investment.”

Osaretin Afusat Demuren

In April this year, Afusat Demuren was confirmed the sixth Chairman of the Board of Guaranty Trust Bank Directors. The new chairman joined the bank in 2013 as a non-Executive Director and served as a member of the Board Risk Management Committee of which she became Chairman in 2014. She also served as a member of the Board Remuneration Committee and the Board Information Technology Strategy Committee.

Before she began her stint in GTBank, Afusat Demuren served in the Central Bank of Nigeria for over 33 years at the Trade and Exchange Department, as member and secretary to the Public Enlightenment Committee on Second-tier Foreign Exchange Market, as a representative of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Special Investigation Panel on Trade Malpractices of the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Tourism and was appointed Director, Human Resource Department in 2004, a position she held until her retirement from the Central Bank in 2009 among many other roles. She is popularly known as the first female Director of CBN.

She has a diploma in Russian Language and Preliminary Studies from the Kiev State University and a master’s degree in Economics and Statistics from Moscow Institute of Economics and Statistics. She is also a member of professional associations such as the Society of Human Resource Management of America, Nigerian Statistical Association, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Mosunmola Olusoga

Up till her appointment, Mosunmola Olusoga was the Principal Consultant/Programme Director of The KRC Limited. She served on the Board of Asset and Resource Management Company Ltd and is the past Chairperson, Equipment and Leasing Association of Nigeria. She had an illustrious banking career spanning nearly three decades. She retired from Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in 2006 as the Executive Director, Investment Banking and was at various times responsible for Risk Management, Corporate and Commercial Banking, Transaction Service and Settlements (local and foreign operations). She also served as Acting Managing Director of Trust Bank of Africa Limited in 2003.

Mrs. Mosun Belo-Olusoga is a graduate of Economics from the University of Ibadan (1979). She qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1983 winning first place merit award and also the award of the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria prize for best qualifying candidate. She is a fellow of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. She is also a director of Access Bank Plc, among several other companies.

Speaking on her appointment, the immediate past chairman, of the bank, Mr. Akin Oyebode said: “I am glad that Belo-Olusoga will be succeeding me as Chairperson. Her significant board experience, knowledge of our dynamic industry and personal qualities will be highly beneficial to Access Bank.”
Speaking on her appointment, Belo-Olusoga said she considered it, “a great privilege to chair Access Bank, an outstanding financial institution at a time like this. I look forward to working with its great team in transforming it into the world’s most respected African bank.”