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Controversy Over Appointment of Aishah Ahmad of Diamond Bank As CBN Deputy Governor

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Controversy has continued to trail the appointment of a Deputy General Manager in Diamond Bank as a new Deputy Director of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The lady at the center of the controversy, Aishah Ahmad was said to be a  DGM in Diamond Bank before she was ‘hurriedly promoted’ as an Executive Director of the bank before her new appointment.

According to reliable informants, Aishah was a DGM in the bank on Tuesday 3rd October, 2017 and by the morning of Wednesday, 4th October she was quickly appointed as ED in the bank and immediately appointed as Deputy Governor of the CBN same Wednesday evening.

We were told that ordinarily the CBN only accepts from Executive Director (ED) cadre as Deputy Director.

It was alleged in some anonymous posts on the social media that Aishah’s promotion to the position of Executive Director at Diamond Bank Plc was rushed a few hours to the announcement of her name as the nominee to replace Sarah Alade, who retired from the bank as deputy-governor (economic policy) in March 2017.

The message read: “We have a new Deputy CBN Governor by name Aishah Ahmad. An erstwhile DGM (Deputy General Manager), she was appointed an ED (Executive Director) in Diamond Bank Wednesday evening and before the staff got home same Wednesday, they learnt of her appointment as CBN Deputy Governor. CBN typically accepts only Executive Directors for that position.”

Those who oppose her appointment as CBN Deputy Governor argued further that she was promoted overnight at CBN to meet this requirement and because she is just 40, it was also argued that she is too young for the coveted office.

Sources revealed that Aishah is close to senior players in the banking industry and that her elevation must have been influenced by some of the players.

Sources revealed that the woman’s appointment was made to fill the slot of the bank as other banks such as Zenith Bank and First Bank have reportedly filled their slots in the apex bank.

We were reliably informed that the memo nominating Aishah for deputy-governorship was sent to President Muhammadu Buhari on February 20, 2017 with Alade set to retire after spending 25 years at CBN.

The memo allegedly remained untreated as the president battled with health problems for months.

Meanwhile, in Ahmad’s CV, she said she was promoted ED at Diamond Bank in May 2017 — three months after her name was sent to the president for the CBN vacancy.

The Diamond bank board reportedly only confirmed her elevation on the eve of the announcement of her nomination by the president.

The curious case of her promotion might not have been helped by the fact that she was a deputy general manager previously, meaning she skipped being general manager. Although in the private sector double promotions are not unusual, the circumstances surrounding her case would raise suspicion that it was meant to beef up her resume.

Diamond Bank, the last employer of Aishah Ahmad, reportedly  gave a dodgy response when asked to respond to widespread claims that Ms. Ahmad was promoted executive director on the same day she was appointed to the top CBN post.

Rather than make a categorical comment on when Mrs. Ahmad was raised from her position as Deputy General Manager to Executive Director, Mike Omeife, Head of media Relations at the bank, was quoted to have said that she had been executive director at the bank “for a while”.

“He maintained that based on her wealth of experience, she is qualified to be appointed to the new position,” said a source.

However, the CBN Act does not require that an appointee to that position must be an executive director of a bank, and it is not clear why she had to be controversially upgraded.

Section 8 sub-section 1 of the CBN Act 2007 states, among others, that: “The Governor and Deputy Governors “shall be persons of recognised financial experience and shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate.”

Some commentators argue that Ms. Ahmad’s expertise may not be the kind of skills needed at the CBN.

We learned that the woman is better known for overseeing privilege banking, securing accounts from high net-worth individuals, and providing private client services to wealthy customers. Her understanding of economic policies remained unclear.

Abdul Mahmud, an Abuja-based attorney, reportedly said of the appointment, “That she replaces Sarah Alade as Deputy Governor of CBN in charge of economic policy- monetary policy, financial market, etc, before her retirement, makes her catapult curious.

“With a background in accounting and professional training in consumer banking, you would ask: what was her appointor thinking? She is not a monetarist, there is nothing in her CV that shows that she is nuanced in monetary economics,” he said.

Aishah is expected to assume duty as CBN deputy governor immediately after her confirmation by the Senate.

Until her appointment, Mrs. Ahmad, a holder of Master of Science, M.Sc degree in Finance & Management from the Cranfield School of Management, United Kingdom (2006-2007) and a Master of Business Administration, MBA in Finance, University of Lagos (1999-2001), was the executive director (Retail Banking) at Diamond Bank Plc.

She is the chairperson, executive council of Women in Management, Business and Public Service, WIMBIZ, a Nigerian non-profit organization focused on issues affecting the interest of women professionals in business, particularly those promoting leadership development and capacity building to engender growt.

Checks revealed that details of the bank’s annual report showed that as at December 2016, Mrs. Ahmad held the position of Head, Consumer and Privilege Banking.

The two executive directors listed in the report are Chizoma Okoli, Executive Director Business Development, and Chiugo Ndubisi, Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer.

Similarly, in its quarterly reports for March and June 2017, the names of the two aforementioned officials remained as executive directors.

Observers believe that the Aishah’s appointment is a bad precedent and that it is a matter of time before “every reasonable person in the industry would realise the folly in the appointment.”

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Jim Ovia: Garlands To ‘Grandfather’ Of Banking

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Thomas Imonikhe

Though of noble birth, Mr. Jim Ovia, the pioneer Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc and current chairman of its board realized early in life that having blue blood in one’s veins wasn’t enough ticket to guarantee stardom in one’s chosen endeavor and opted for the narrow path? And unlike the present dispensation in the country whereby desperation for materialism has dwarfed the age tested virtues of honesty and dignity in labor, Ovia, apparently due his strict upbringing in the royal court imbibed integrity and hardwork holding the attributes firmly as master keys that will unlock all doors in his life journey.

Little wonder therefore that the topmost banker who will clock 68 on Monday November 4th has attained not only the pinnacle of his chosen career –banking but regarded as an exceptional role model to many upcoming Nigerians especially those with eyes on business.

He is also reputed to be a reference point on philanthropy. Indeed his distinguished attainments also in business, as motivational speaker, writer and in the information technology communication, ICT remains a classic example of someone who waded through life journey from grass to grace.
A prince, Jim Ovia was born on the 4th of November, 1951 to Obi Olihe of Agbor-Obi, one of the most revered royal fathers in Agbor Kingdom, Delta State , attended Ika Grammar School, Bojiboji-Owa for his secondary education before traveling to the United States for the proverbial golden fleece, where he had his tertiary education.

While there, he bagged a B.Sc. degree in Business Administration from Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and later Master’s degree in Business Administration from University of Louisiana, Monroe. He is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School.

Ovia admitted that he was encouraged to venture into his course of study by his uncle and thereafter resolved to excel in his chosen career, adding that his golden rule since then has been ‘honesty and integrity’. “Always honour contracts: it is very important to be of tremendous integrity.

Those who try to take shortcuts will always fail’’ he declared in one of his famous quotes. No doubt, his life philosophy above has a fundamental backing of American billionaire Warren Buffet who maintained that three attributes: intelligence, energy and integrity are a must for any one aspiring to be an achiever with integrity not negotiable.

For him, without integrity the other two attributes are useless. Rather than stay back in the U. S. to savour the vast opportunities, Ovia upon graduating, returned to his fatherland, joined Union Bank for his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), and worked in Lion Bank where he rose to the position of branch manager in Lagos.

He later joined International Merchant Bank (IMB) in 1980 rising from financial analyst to bank manager from where he moved to Merchant Bank of Africa. And following an unblemished career in the affected banks coupled with the experience garnered, he alongside some investors established Zenith Bank in May 1990 after the administration of former military president Gen. Ibrahim Babangida deregulated the banking sector.
As prime mover of the financial institution, he became the pioneer managing director and chief executive officer of the bank, a position he held for 20 years before resigning his position in July 2010. But four years later and given his track record of service, he was appointed the chairman of the bank. It is on record that under his leadership, Zenith Bank grew in leaps and bounds thus first becoming a Public Limited Company, Plc in 2001 before it got listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) as well as the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Significantly, on April 27, 2007, Zenith Bank Plc became the first Nigerian bank in 25 years to be licensed by the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA), giving birth to Zenith Bank UK Limited and also with subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, South Africa and China. Truly and like the biblical mustard seed, the bank which was established with a capital of just N20m some 29 years ago with currently over 500 branches nationwide and thousands of employees announced recently that its total assets stood at N5.97 trillion as at end of September this year.

Perhaps Ovia’s humility and disciplined background has made him to distance himself from public space and one who doesn’t like blowing his own trumpet. For instance he sees the flourishing story of Zenith Bank as not due to his financial wizardry but borne out of vision and a passion to make it a reality. ‘’You can build an app or a company or a product or service, I happened to build a bank’’, he noted while speaking on his business secrets. The foremost banker also has interests in real estate; Information Communication Technology, ICT; founded Cyberspace Network Limited one of the pioneers of internet services in the country as well as Visafone Communications Limited, a Nigerian wireless network provider, a company that has been acquired by MTN.

As an author, Ovia in September 2018 published his first book, an autobiography ‘Africa Rise and Shine’ containing his business success secrets and how he was able to create one of Africa’s largest banks. Recognizing the fundamental role that sound education played in his life success and the need to offer a helping hand to the less privileged members of society, he established Jim Ovia Foundation, a non-profit organization with the aim of investing in the African youth’s ‘unlimited and untapped potential as the key to socio-economic growth’ convinced that such gesture will not only enhance the standard of living of the society but improve the nation’s economy.

Described as the ‘Godfather of Banking’ by Forbes Africa, the philanthropist has similarly invested a fortune on humanitarian work through the Jim Ovia Foundation comprising of four arms: The James Hope College, Jim Ovia Scholarship, Jim Ovia ICT Entrepreneurs Programme and Empower Youth Programme with over 1,500 students said to have benefitted from university scholarships since October 2010, and empowered over 3,500 students and entrepreneurs since its inception. A man of many parts and one who has bagged numerous laurels, Ovia is a recipient of the national honour of Commander of Order of the Federal Republic, OFR.

As a true patriot and in deference to public opinion, Ovia recently withdrew from the World Economic Forum (WEF) that held in South Africa even though he was already at the event, following the uproar that trailed the xenophobic attacks on some Nigerians and other black foreign nationals by rampaging youths. As one analyst noted, Nigeria will attain greater heights in no distant future if most of her prosperous citizens emulate Ovia’s philanthropy especially his passion for developing the human capital through scholarships to youths from less privilege background.

* Imonikhe, former editor Daily Champion, writes from Lagos

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Folake Ani-Mumuney Hits Another Feat, Clinches Lifetime Award In Ghana

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Folake Ani-Mumuney, Chairperson, FBNInsurance Brokers; Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Limited and Vice President, World Federation of Advertisers yesterday in faraway Ghana, clinched the Lifetime Achievement awards.

The Marketing World Awards (MWA) recognizes outstanding performances by individuals and corporate bodies across the marketing communications industry in Africa that have delivered superior product values to the market and exhibited excellence in upholding concrete marketing strategies, display uniqueness and among offerings, convey clear message to its consumers and stand out from the competition will be rewarded and celebrated.

Folake is widely admired for her wit and intelligence which she brings to bear in her well over 25 years career in the world of marketing communications across various industries, having worked in different geographies globally.

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IWEC Foundation Appoints FirstBank’s Ibukun Awosika As New President Of It’s Board Of Directors

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November 8, 2019.  New York, NY.

The International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Foundation (IWEC)  has announced the appointment of Ibukun Awosika to their Board of Directors as its New President. Awosika is the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s Premier and Leading financial services provider.

Mrs. Awosika was elected to replace Miguel Valls, former president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and president of the IWEC Foundation, who passed away last month. “The Foundation is very excited to announce the appointment of our new president,” stated Ruth A. Davis, IWEC Chairwoman and distinguished former U.S. Ambassador. “Ibukun Awosika has been a solid, steady presence at IWEC since its inception, and she is also a past IWEC awardee.  Ibukun has not missed one IWEC Conference since 2008 and has lent her voice and experience not only to our conferences, but to our meetings after joining our Board in 2017.  We are delighted that our Board of Directors voted on her appointment, and we’ll introduce her as our president at our upcoming 12th Annual IWEC Foundation Conference in New Delhi, on November 10th.”

The Foundation’s 2019 Conference will focus on “Connecting Women Businesses Globally: Leading the Way to Innovation and Integration”. The event would be hosted locally by the FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), which represents over 5000 women entrepreneurs and professionals across India. This year, IWEC welcomes 39 awardees from 18 countries, with a combined revenue of over US$5.7 billion among all awardees to date.

IWEC Foundation Vice Chair, Carmen Castillo, CEO of SDI International, adds: “Ibukun has demonstrated a significant commitment to IWEC over the years.  Her breadth of knowledge extends from being an entrepreneur running ?SOKOA Chair Centre Limited, to overseeing the board of directors for the renowned First Bank of Nigeria Limited.  We are looking forward to her wise counsel and to continuously drive IWEC globally as a source of support, connection and impact for women business owners all over the world.”

Ibukun Awosika heads Nigeria’s premier bank, and she is also the founder and CEO of the Chair Centre Group, an association of large companies in the manufacturing, retail, and financial security services.  Mrs. Awosika further holds seats in the corporate boards of Cadbury Nigeria, Digital Jewel Limited and the Convention on Business Integrity, and she is a former chair of several other enterprise boards.   

Ibukun is a graduate of Chemistry from University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Nigeria, an alumna of the Chief Executive Program of Lagos Business School, the Global Executive MBA of IESE Business School, Wharton’s Global CEO Program, and the IESE and China European International Business School (CEIBS). Ibukun is a multiple award-winning entrepreneur and the first Nigerian recipient of the prestigious International Women Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Award as a nominee of the US Department of State in 2008.  Ibukun is also a best-selling author and motivational speaker.

Ibukun was just honoured last month with the International Friendship Award presented at the IESE Business School by the Queen of Spain.

About the IWEC Foundation

IWEC is a New York-based international economic empowerment organization exclusively for women business owners, formed in 2007 with the assistance of the U.S. Department of State.  In addition to the State Department, its founders include the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC), FICCI/FLO Chamber in New Delhi.  IWEC’s mission is to develop a global business network for successful women entrepreneurs, helping them gain and expand access to international markets by presenting a platform to exchange knowledge, experience and connections, and to promote dialogue among women entrepreneurs and business leaders throughout the world.

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