First Bank: Cementing its legacy with a visionary board


Bayo Adewale

The ability of First Bank Nigeria Limited to successfully transform itself and keep pace with market trends has never been in doubt.
The bank has reinvented its products, operations and services over the years to the admiration of Nigerians enough to outlive its peers and remain a strong contender for the best prizes available in Nigeria’s banking industry today.
No doubt, the recent appointment of Mr. Gbenga Shobo as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO)following the retirement of Mr. Adesola Adeduntan, in line with the bank’s succession strategy is the latest move in a long line of visionary moves by the bank to cement its legacy as the leading financial institution in the country. Dr Adeduntan was appointed as the MD in January 2016, supported by Gbenga Shobo as the DMD.
The Board of Directors of First Bank also approved the appointment of Abdullahi Ibrahim as Deputy Managing Director (DMD), while Mr. Ini Ebong, Mr. Segun Alebiosu, Mr. Seyi Oyefeso and Mrs. Basirat Odunewu, were also appointed as Executive Directors.
Although the appointments are still subject to regulatory approval, it is noteworthy that until the appointment of Mr. Shobo as the bank’s DMD in 2016, the bank had never had a DMD role in its 120 plus year history.
The DMD’s role, which was introduced at the exit of the former MD, Bisi Onasanya and appointment of Adeduntan in 2016, will now be occupied by Mr. Ibrahim who had worked closely with Mr. Shobo over the years. The seamless transition from the leadership of Mr. Adeduntan to that of Mr. Shobo who now mounts the saddle as the MD portends great times ahead for the bank.
According to the Chairman of the bank, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, the appointment of Mr. Shobo has not only proven the resilience of the bank’s succession planning mechanisms, it has also demonstrated the value of First Bank’s long-standing corporate governance practices, which underpins its enduring sustainability and the 127-year legacy.
“I would like to thank Sola for his dedication and efforts during his helm at the bank, and before as Chief Finance Officer. The board and I are grateful for his leadership of the bank over the last five years and a half and believe that the strong foundation created during his term would provide an excellent basis for our continued success. We wish him well in his future endeavours,” Mrs. Awosika said.
Indeed, Mr. Shobo had served the bank in many capacities prior to his appointment as the MD.
Apart from being the bank’s first DMD, he also served as an Executive Director overseeing the Retail Banking/Public Sector businesses in the Lagos & West Directorate and was hitherto the Executive Director overseeing the Retail Business in the South Directorate.
Founded in 1894, First Bank is the largest financial services group in Nigeria today. It has distinguished itself as a major contributor to the economic development of Nigeria. Services provided by the bank include corporate and retail banking, registrarship, pension fund custodianship, trusteeship and insurance brokerage.
The bank currently has 394 branches throughout Nigeria — the largest branch network in the industry.
Despite being the oldest bank around, First Bank can easily pass as the latest kid on the block. Thanks to its transformation agenda, the bank is still relevant and contemporary in a fiercely competitive banking environment.
*Adewale, a financial analyst, writes from Lagos




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