By Stephen Ubanna
Between 2020 and August, 201, there have been rumours making the rounds that Urum Kalu Eke, the immediate past Group Managing Director, GMD, of First Bank of Nigeria, FBN, Holdings, who has completed his two term tenure would go on voluntary retirement.
The rumour became pronounced when Eke, the GMD, tendered his Letter of retirement to the Board on August 10, 2021.The Letter, according to insiders follows a 35 years’ Meritorious career in ‘‘financial services, strategy, auditing, consulting, taxation, process reengineering and capital market operations’’. He was said to have spent nearly 11 years of his 35 years of his career in banking serving the FBN Holdings, where he occupied the position of the Group Managing Director for an interrupted six years without problem.
Even when other banks were losing many of their Customers and retarded growth, due to the Asian country of China emerged coronavirus, popular, COVID 19, Pandemic, he was said to have ‘’built synergies across the Bank Holdings Group, fostering Collaborations to maximize business development opportunities with diverse industry stakeholders globally’’ which was said to have catapulted it to grater heights.
Although, he had tendered his voluntary resignation letter since August 10, 2021, which was approved by the Board but it is expected to take effects from December 31, 2021, in order to usher in a new Management on January 1, 2021.
Appreciated by the staff who have continued to pour encomiums on him on how he had piloted the affairs of the Group in the last six years without trouble, a top official of FBN, who spoke to The Magazine disclosed that ‘’if he has his way he will not allow him to go but ensure that the Board must renew his appointment for another third term tenure to continue his good work in FBN Holdings.
Informed sources told The Value News that Eke, the former GMD, of the Group notice of retirement may have prepared the mind of the Board members to scout for a possible replacement for him and who, they had said must be someone who understands the country’s banking and Financial well in order to sustain the track record that had been set by Eke without failing.
This may have thrown up Nnamdi Okonkwo, a former Managing Director of Fidelity Bank who have had more than 30 years unbroken banking career spanning local and international experience before bowing out as the Managing Director of Fidelity bank, which he had helped to build to an enviable height that it has become of the top five banks in the country in the last year.
. Many believe that Okonkwo, the immediate past Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of Fidelity bank has a wealth of experience that couldnot be denied him in the area of ‘’transformational leadership, business strategy development and visioning, innovative corporate governance and risk management’’. This may which may have attracted him to theBoard members of FBN Holdings as the rightful person that should occupy the Group GMD, position with the voluntary retirement of Eke.
He was said to have led the transformation of banks, with the most recent being Fidelity Bank, where he had led the management team for seven years to achieve remarkable results that had culminated in ‘’tripling the bank profit and shareholders value’’.
Described as a Financial expert, in banking circles, Staff of Fidelity bank, who had the opportunity to unbare their mind on him had said that his ’’footprints in the bank will take time to fade away’’. They noted ot only did he manage ‘’to integrate digital innovations and technology into the everyday life of Customers of the bank’’, he was said to have ‘’steered the ship for modern- day convenient banking in Nigeria’’, thus putting him in the class of Kingsley Uzoka, the Group Managing Director of United Bank For Africa, UBA plc, popular, Pan African Bank.
It was not surprising why the bank remained afloat during the bad days of the COVID 19,Pandemic, which was spreading globally like wildfire, thus forcing many Organisations within and outside the country to close down or scale down their operations. but Fidelity bank under Okonkwo’s close watch was said ‘’to have continued ‘’to make progress’’, competing with such other big banks as UBA plc, Guarantee Trust Bank, GTB, plc, Zenith and FBN Holdings.
Insiders told The Magazine that when it became viral that Okonkwo, the former managing director of Fidelity Bank plc, has opened up talks with FBN Holdings ever since he bowed out from Fidelity bank, many knew he will grab the Group, top Job as it has been Authoritatively confirmed that Eke, the GMD, who has cloaked 35 years in the service was actually going to pave way for a replacement.
It is instructive to note that all eyes have been him since he bowed out from Fidelity bank, last year, to know his next line of action: whether he will stay on the road less travelled by other top flight bankers in the past or stay permanently away from the banking sector. Given his creativity, those who knew him closely were optimistic that he will want ‘’carve a niche for himself similar to his old banking job’’. They got it wrong. This is because he has started discussions with FBN Holdings to replace Eke, the GMD, who was on his way out.
In announcing Okonkwo’s appointment, Soseye Kosoko,the Company Secretary disclosed that it will take effect from January 1, 2022. Although, the FBN Holdings had selected a new GMD, for the Group, but only the Godwin Emefiele led Central Bank of Nigeria,CBN, which has been nofied about the change of baton in the Group and other approving Authorities have the powers to confirm him.
. Kosoko, the FBN Holdings Secretary, may have taken advantage of the announcement of the appointment of Nnamdi, a former Fidelity bankManaging Director as the new GMD, of the Group to also release the list of other approvals made by the Board that includes the renewal of the appointments of Adesola Adeduntan and Gbenga Shobo as the managing director and deputy managing director of First Bank respectively, for another term. His appointment, according to informed sources may not be automatic as it still has to be confirmed by the CBN, to make it official.
The Board had gladdened the hearts of Kayode Akinkugbe and Taiwo Okowo as the Managing Director and Deputy Managing Director of FBN Quest Merchant Bank Limited respectively, for another term by confirming their appointments.
For those who have been following closely Okonkwo in all his places of work over the years, they are optimistic that he will bring to bear his wealth of experience to the Board of FBN Holdings. Until he became the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, which had positioned the FBN Holdings top job, he had served as the Executive Director for Southern Operations of Fidelity bank, worked meritoriously on an international level in his capacity as the Managing Director of UBA Ghana; Director, UBA Liberia and a Director of the Ghana National Banking College.
He was served to have also served in various leadership positions in the defunct Broad Bank of Nigeria Ltd; Citizens International Bank, Nigeria as well as the FSB International Bank plc, Guaranty Trust Bank plc, , and Merchant Bank of Africa, all based in Nigeria.
The newly appointed GMD of FBN Holdings, Okonkwo, was said to have made remarkable feats as Director in other organizations such as UBA Ghana, UBA Liberia, Nigeria e-government Strategy,NEGEST, Nigeria Interbank Settlement System plc, Unified Payment System Ltd and as Chairman, Shareholders Audit Committee FMDQ, amongst others.
The Board of First Bank, on its part was said to have appointed Mrs.Tope Orhionsefe Omage as a Non-Executive Director of First Bank of Nigeria Limited but subject to the approval of the CBN. This is in addition the appointment of Meristem Registrars Limited as the new Registrars to take over the Register of Members of FBN Holdings plc in replacement of First Registrars and Investors Services Limited, with effect from December 1, 2021.