NIGERIA currently has 26 major banks with the number of female bank chief executives soaring from just one in 2019 to 10 in 2024, representing 36 percent of Nigerian major banks’ chief executive officers.

Analysts said the increasing presence of female MDs within Nigerian banks highlight the acknowledgment of women’s capabilities and their significant role in driving the country’s economic progress. This trend, according to them, signifies a progressive movement towards gender equality and inclusivity in corporate governance, marking a departure from conventional patriarchal norms towards a more balanced and diverse leadership landscape.

Reacting to the development, Senator Shehu Sani said most Nigerian banks are now headed by women. which attests to the evolving level of trust, reliability and professionalism of the female gender in the Banking industry.

Other stakeholders also believe that it is indeed notable and encouraging to see more women taking leadership roles in the banking industry in Nigeria.

They are: Miriam Olusanya, MD, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) who made history as the MD of Guaranty Trust Bank, becoming the first woman to ascend to this prestigious position in the bank on June 2021; YemisiEdun, MD, First City Monument Bank (FCMB) who was appointed MD in July 2021. She has a background in finance and extensive experience in the banking sector; Halima Buba, MD/CEO, SunTrust Bank was appointed the MD/CEO of SunTrust Bank in January 2021. Halima Buba, a seasoned banker with over 22 years of cognate experience obtained from working in All States Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Inland Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, and Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

Another banking Amazon isIreti Samuel-Ogbu, MD, Citibank Nigeria who was appointed in September 2020. It was the first time a woman has been appointed to the lender’s top post after 36 years of operating in Africa’s largest economy.

Furthermore, Mrs. NnekaOnyeali-Ikpe, MD/CEO, Fidelity Bank assumed the office on January 1, 2021. She has been an integral part of the transformation team at Fidelity Bank in the last six years. She was formerly executive director, Lagos and South West, overseeing the bank’s business in the six states that make up the South West region of the bank. TomiSomefun, MD, Unity Bank was appointed as MD in August 2015. She obtained a B.Ed. in English Language in 1981 from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Osun State, and is an alumni of Harvard Business School and the University of Columbia Business School, New York.

Also, KafilatAraoye, Pioneer MD, Lotus Bank, was appointed MD since May 2021.She holds a first degree in History from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (1985), and an M.Sc. in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from the University of Lagos (1987), graduating as the best student in her class. ).

Bukola Smith, MD, FSDH Merchant Bank heads the Bank, leveraging her B.Sc. in Economics and an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School. Her expertise in investment banking fosters FSDH’s growth, while her mentorship supports aspiring female leaders in the finance sector. She became the MD of FSDH Merchant Bank in April 2021 and still serves in this capacity.

YetundeBolanle Oni, MD, Union Bank, recently assumed the role of MD/CEO of Union Bank in January 2024, marking a significant milestone in the bank’s leadership.

With degrees in Economics and Business Administration, including executive training at Oxford University, her appointment is poised to shape Union Bank’s strategic direction.

Dr. AdaoraUmeoji, GCEO, Zenith Bank, appointment as group managing director/chief executive of Zenith Bank becomes effective June 1, 2024. Umeoji’s appointment makes her the first female to take up the position.

Before her appointment, Umeoji has been the deputy managing director of the bank since October 28, 2016, and has close to 30 years of cognate banking experience, of which 26 years have been with Zenith Bank.

Umeoji is an alumna of the prestigious Harvard Business School where she attended the Advanced Management Programme (AMP) and an alumna of Columbia Business School with a Certificate in the Global Banking Programme.

This trend reflects the increasing recognition of their capabilities, expertise, and professionalism in the field. It’s a positive sign of progress towards gender equality and diversity in the workplace. Before 2019, the banking industry had been largely dominated by men with a sprinkle of the female gender who had also made their mark in the industry.

The likes of Cecilia Ibru, former managing director/chief executive officer of defunct Oceanic Bank, said to be the first female bank CEO, was one in a million among male bank CEOs. Ibru became the MD/CEO of Oceanic Bank in 1997, but on August 13, 2009 she was one of the five bank CEOs who were dismissed. Then, more female bank CEOs came into the industry as turnaround managers after the 2009 shake-up in the sector. FunkeOsibodu led Union Bank while Suzanne Irochewas also appointed by the CBN in 2009 as turnaround MD/CEO of FinBank Plc. They both served their banks until 2012 when they successfully completed their assignments.

Other women who presided as CEOs of banks include Bola Adesola, MD/ CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Limited, Nigeria, who in 2011 was appointed by the bank as the first Nigerian, and first female CEO of the bank. In 2012, Sola David-Borhawas anointed as chief executive of Stanbic IBTC and served until 2017.

The latest addition of Dame AdaoraUmeoji as the group chief executive of Zenith Bank further extends the list, which has been on the rise since 2021.

Besides the managing director of Unity Bank, Mrs. TomiSomefun, who has stood tall in the midst of men since 2015, the banking industry rarely had female representation at the CEO level. At least 10 of the 26 commercial banks in the country are currently being led by women.

However, the list has consistently grown with the additions of Miriam Olusanya, YemisiEdun, and HalimaBuba, among others.

Speaking on the development, MD/CEO of Arthur Steven Asset Management Limited, OlatundeAmolegbe, said the transition into an equal gender industry is a welcome development.

According to him, the female gender has proven themselves as support cast in the finance industry for a long time and it is time they take the reins eventually.

“My personal belief is that the natural trait of fairness, probity, and sense of responsibility will stand them in good stead to make a positive impact in the industry, as did their predecessors such as Mrs. Kuforiji-Olubi who led UBA sometimes in the 80s. I support this transition 100 percent,” he said.

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