The seven women breaking glass ceiling in Nigeria

SETH ONYANGO, BIRD NEWSROOM

IN corporate Nigeria, a shift appears to be underway as more financial institutions appoint woman corporate executives to head some of the country’s top banks.

Nigeria’s mainstream financial institutions are banking on women to lead the next chapter of growth in the sector, with more lenders appointing female chief executives.

The move, which has seen more women take key banking roles in just the past week, positions Africa’s economic powerhouse as one of the bellwethers of gender equality on the continent’s financial services.

Last week, Guaranty Trust (GT) Bank appointed Miriam Olusanya as its Managing Director/CEO, the first woman to occupy the position since the bank was established in 1990.

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) followed suit, hiring Yemisi Edun as its CEO, just over six months after another woman, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe took over the mantle at Fidelity Bank Plc.

Currently, there are six women heads of banks in Nigeria, heralding a dramatic paradigm shift in female corporate leadership in the populous nation and the continent.

Other women chief executives at commercial banks in Nigeria are Halima Buba (SunTrust Bank), Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Citibank Nigeria), Oluwatomi Somefun (Unity Bank), Bukola Smith (FSDH Merchant Bank Limited), and Kafilat Araoye (Lotus Bank).

Their appointments come on the back of the historic hiring of Nigerian veteran banker, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

While Okonjo-Iwela made history as the first woman to head the multinational trade outfit, back home in Nigeria and the wider African region, she was already trailblazing for a new crop of women corporate leaders. Prior to her WTO assignment, Okonjo-Iwela served as Nigeria’s first female Finance minister from July 2011.

She was also previously engaged as a Managing Director of the World Bank where she had an oversight role for the lender’s operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia, and Europe and Central Asia. All this displayed her immaculate financial pedigree.

According to a 2019 McKinsey report on gender equality, Africa’s economy could grow 10 per cent just by taking women more seriously. In Nigeria, the appointment of more women CEOs in banks is seen as a step in the right direction that could inspire more affirmative actions across the continent.

There are 22 commercial banks in Nigeria according to the Central Bank of Nigeria, with seven now superintended by women.

Credited for their appointment is the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP) – constituted in 2012 under the auspices of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bankers’ Committee to formulate sustainable banking standards and guidelines for Nigerian banks.

NSBP, requires banks to develop clear short- and long-term objectives for their business activities and provide products and services aimed at promoting gender equality for women and financial inclusion.

Seven women taking over Nigerian Banking Sector according to This Day Nigeria

• Miriam Olusanya, GTBank She has over 23 years of banking experience cutting across Transaction Services, Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Investment Banking, and Investor Relations.

• Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Fidelity Bank Onyeali-Ikpe is a consummate professional of over 30-year experience across various banks, including Standard Chartered Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, and Citizens International Bank Limited, where she held several management positions in Legal, Treasury, Investment Banking, Retail/Commercial Banking, and Corporate Banking.

• Oluwatomi Somefun, Unity Bank Prior to her appointment in August 2015, she served as the Executive Director overseeing the Lagos and South-West Business Directorates, the Financial Institution Division, and the Treasury Department of the bank.

• Ireti Samuel-Ogbu, Citibank Nigeria She is a seasoned banker with over 20 years of cognate experience obtained from working in Allstates Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Inland Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, and Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

• Bukola Smith, FSDH Merchant Bank She has 28 years of progressive experience in the industry with a track record of strategic execution and leadership. She was appointed Executive Director, Business Development at First City Monument Bank (FCMB) in 2017 and held several other leadership positions since she joined FCMB in 2006.

• Yemisi Edun, FCMB dun is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers and an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A., and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

• Kafilat Araoye, Lotus Bank She has a 25-year of experience as a commercial banker, with expertise in human resources, business development, payments, international and domestic operations among others.

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