Disgust as Embattled CBN Meddles in First Banks’ Choice of Shobo as New MD/CEO


…How Plot to Influence Succession Failed

The Board of First Bank Nigeria (FBN) Limited has approved the appointment of Mr. Gbenga Shobo, currently Deputy Managing Director, as its new Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer-designate.

The lender after its board meeting yesterday explained that the decision was subject to all regulatory approvals.

Gbenga succeeds Adesola Adeduntan, who will be leaving the bank in accordance with its tenures limit for its chief executives, after successfully leading it since January 2016. This decision will take effect from Wednesday 28th of April, 2021.

But finance and economy experts are disgusted with efforts by the embattled Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to interfere in the FBN succession process.

CBN has been enmeshed in many controversies in the country bordering on alleged financial misgovernance.

But CBN, in a letter to FBN, claimed adequate consultations were not made before the changes and that Adedutan’s tenure was supposed to end in December this year.

One concerned analyst asked: “Should the CBN Governor be playing God? This is about how the plan to influence First Bank failed.

“First Bank followed its corporate governance framework in its change of leadership and appointment of new EDs.

“CBN should allow Nigeria’s oldest bank’s transition to go smoothly.”

Another observer remarked: “Why is the CBN going after First Bank now? Is CBN pushing another agenda?
“Should the CBN be meddling in an internal process? What is CBNs reason for and interest in a prolonged stay at the end of a tenure?

FirstBank Firstmonie

“It’s only because the attempt to insist on a third term was rebuffed. The tenure ends this year. Best practice is six months to the end. Succession is announced and you go on leave.

“In this Covid year, after the AGM, the bank decides to go with it, six weeks earlier. How can that be a big deal?

“CBN’s letters simply sought to undermine the bank’s corporate governance when it should be applauding it.

“And bringing up the transactional issues at this time is in utter bad faith and inimical from a regulator that is supposed to be unbiased but is upset at a failed arm-twist.

CBN had earlier issued some letters on pending transactions, thus dabbling into the process whereas the practice is appointment by the board before seeking ratification from the regulatory agency, like in the recent cases of Fidelity Bank, Zenith Bank, Union Bank etc.

“So what’s special about this one,” the analyst asked.

However, announcing Shobo’s appointment, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, explained: ” We are proud to announce Gbenga Shobo as our new MD/CEO.

His appointment has to prove the resilience of our succession planning mechanism and the value we placed on our long-standing cooperation, governance practice, which underpinned the institution enduring sustainability and 127-year legacy.

“Gbenga has had a successful career in the bank and elsewhere, culminating in his appointment as Deputy Managing Director (DMD) in 2016. Prior to his appointment as DMD, he was the Executive Director overseeing the retail banking/Public sector Businesses in the Lagos and West Directorate and was hitherto the Executive Director overseeing the retail business in the South Directorate.

“As part of his responsibility for retail banking, he has been instrumental in developing and growing the bank agency baking business, which today, is the market leader in agency banking leveraging partnership and best in class technology and bringing service to millions of unbanked and underbanked customers in Nigeria, and across various countries where we operate through our African subsidiaries.

“The Board is confident that Gbenga has the experience and understanding of the bank and the know-how to lead the bank through this next phase of growth which is focused on positioning First Bank as the preeminent bank in our chosen markets, delivering value to our stakeholders.”

Also appointed is Abdullahi Ibrahim as Deputy Managing Director, while Mr. Ini Ebong, Mr Segun Alebiosu, Mr Seyi Oyefeso and Mrs Bashirat Odunewu are also appointed as Executive Directors.

These decisions are subject to all regulatory approvals. Awosika added: “I would like to thank Sola for his dedication and effort during his helm at the bank, and before as CFO.

The Board and I are grateful for his leadership of the bank over the last five and a half years and believe that the strong foundation created during his term will provide an excellent basis for our continued success. We wish him well in his future endeavours outside the Fist Bank.”

Dew of Hermon School
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