In a surprising move, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has taken decisive action by dissolving the boards of Polaris, Union, and Keystone banks. This bold step was accompanied by the immediate appointment of new executive directors to spearhead the affairs of these deposit money banks, marking a significant development in the nation’s financial sector.
The CBN, through a statement signed by the acting Director of Corporate Communications, Sidi Hakama, announced the appointments on Thursday morning. The swift response follows the dismissal of the entire board of four banks due to alleged grave infringements of financial laws, ranging from regulatory non-compliance to corporate governance failures and activities threatening financial stability.
Union Bank New Leadwership: Yetunde Oni,the first female CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Sierra Leone, has been appointed as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank. Her vast experience and leadership skills position her as a key player in steering Union Bank through this period of transition. Mannir Ubali Ringim will join her as the newly appointed Executive Director, bringing his expertise to complement Oni’s vision for the bank.
Keystone Bank’s New Leadership: Hassan Imam takes the helm as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Keystone Bank, poised to lead the institution into a new era of growth and stability. Joining him is Chioma A. Mang, who assumes the role of Executive Director. Their combined skills and industry knowledge are expected to contribute significantly to the strategic direction of the Bank.
Polaris Bank’s New Leadership: Lawal Mudathir Omokayode Akintola has been appointed as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Bank, entrusted with the task of revitalizing the bank’s operations. Chris Onyeka Ofikulu, appointed as Executive Director, will collaborate with Akintola to navigate Polaris Bank through the challenges it faces. The CBN’s choice of seasoned professionals reflects a commitment to restoring stability and confidence in Polaris Bank.
The decision to dissolve the boards came on the heels of a thorough investigation led by Special Investigator Jim Obazee, appointed by President Bola Tinubu in July 2023. The report, critical of the CBN’s activities, accused the immediate past Governor, Godwin Emefiele, of acquiring banks through proxies, specifically citing Union Bank of Nigeria and Keystone Bank.
According to the investigative report, Emefiele allegedly used proxies to acquire these banks without providing evidence of payment, leading to concerns about transparency and accountability in the financial sector. In response, the CBN exercised its regulatory powers, citing the Financial Institutions Act, 2020, as the basis for dissolving the boards.
The CBN’s proactive approach demonstrates a commitment to upholding financial regulations and ensuring the stability of the banking sector. By appointing new executives to lead these banks, the CBN aims to inject fresh leadership and strategic vision into the institutions, fostering a renewed focus on compliance and governance.
The newly appointed executives face the challenge of restoring public trust and confidence in the affected banks. Their leadership will be closely watched, not only by regulatory authorities but also by shareholders and the general public. As the banking landscape undergoes this transformation, stakeholders eagerly anticipate positive changes that will contribute to the overall health and resilience of Nigeria’s financial sector.