Nigeria’s banking sector is witnessing a rise in the appointment of female chief executive officers, which analysts and stakeholders have described as a welcome development that would impact positively on the industry.
Fidelity Bank Plc recently appointed Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, as the managing director of the bank, who resumed office on January 1, 2021.
She took over from Nnamdi Okonkwo, former managing director, whose contract formally ended on December 31, 2020.
Onyeali-Ikpe joined the bank in 2015 and spearheaded the transformation of the directorate, leading it to profitability and sustained its impressive year-on-year growth across key performance metrics, including contributing over 28 per cent of the Bank’s profit before tax, deposits and loans.
Under her leadership, the bank will consolidate on the already laid foundation and track record of performance, to execute the next growth phase. Onyeali-Ikpe was formerly the executive director, Lagos and South West directorate of the bank, and has been an integral part of management in the last six years.
FCMB, on Wednesday named Yemisi Edun as acting managing director, following the stepping aside of embattled Adam Nuhu. Her new position is subject to regulatory approvals which will be subsequently announced in no distant time.
Until her appointment, Edun was the immediate past Chief Financial Officer of the bank, a role she held after serving in various capacities in the bank since joining in 2000.
Reacting to the development, Uju Ogubunka, president, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN) said, “That is the kind of a thing that some of us expect. This country has come a long way and the banking industry has come a long way. We need to see more of a blend of both men and women playing their profession – a kind of situation where two ladies have been appointed almost simultaneously.
It gladdens the heart. For all you may care the board that appointed them and the CBN that did the confirmation must have done a thorough job and these people have had a reasonable length and practical of experience on the job. We believe they will go there and do the best, showing that what a man can do, a woman can do even better”.
“I know them and I believe they have the capacity, looking at their track record. I think it is okay, it is a good omen and that also will encourage ladies to rise to do their best to get to the top of their career,” he said.
On the impact on the industry, Ogubunka said, “Once they do well of course the impact would be very high. The customers and other stakeholders would begin to appreciate ladies. These are people that have come a long way so the impact will be very good and people will feel happy especially some of us that have come through that side of the industry. But it is now up to them to take up that challenge and prove they can do it and once they can do it, they open more doors for other ladies that are coming at their back. But if they go there and do not do better than the men that are there, they may jeopardise the chances of others that are coming behind them. They should have that at the back of their mind especially issues that have to do with corporate governance and ethics. I know them, they have been so much grounded and we would give them the support they need”.
Prior to the recent appointments, the banking sector has had other female chief executives currently piloting the affairs of their banks.
They include Bola Adesola, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Limited, Nigeria, Ibukun Awosika, Chairperson, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Mosun Belo-Olusoga – The Chairperson, Board of Directors of Access Bank Plc, and Oluwatomi Somefun, managing director/CEO, Unity Bank Plc.
Akintunde Olusegun, analyst at Polaris Bank Limited, said, it is positive in the sense that there has been agitation for more female participation in every sector and the banking sector is not excluded.
He said that before now there had been more women coming board as chairman of board of banks, for instance GTBank, Access Bank and First Bank have women as their chairperson.
“To see more female at the helm of affairs is a positive development to the sector and the country as whole,” he said.
Globally, he said there has been agitation for gender equality and they will begin to see Nigeria as country promoting gender balance.
“It will also give drive to young female to try to aspire to the peak of whatever career they have chosen. It is a welcome development and I think it has been agreed that women are good managers,” Akintunde said.