As amazons storm Nigerian banking industry

Recently, history was made in Nigeria’s banking sector, as women were appointed managing directors of some banks. ANOZIE EGOLE looks at Fidelity, GTB and FCMB, with a view to knowing what these promotions mean for the sector

When the news broke, late last year, that the board of Fidelity Bank had announced Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe as Managing Director, the proverbial glass ceiling cringed. Fidelity became the first bank in Nigeria to appoint a female as MD. The new MD started official duties in her new status on January 1, 2021.

Fidelity, being a Tier-2 commercial bank, the news might have been received with mixed feelings. While some were still asking what she could offer in a male-dominated financial sector, others were of the opinion that ladies should be given a chance to prove themselves.

However, while some stakeholders celebrate the appointment of the ladies as a step in the right direction, others are pessimistic that they might not have any positive impact on the economy.

Meanwhile, in this offering, Financial Street peeps into the achievements of these ladies before their new roles as MDs.



On July 20, 2020, the board of Fidelity Bank announced the appointment of Mrs Onyeali-Ikpe, the then Executive Director, Lagos and South West, as the MD/Chief Executive Officer-designate. It also announced the impending retirement of the then MD/CEO, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo.

Onyeali-Ikpe was appointed to the board of Fidelity Bank in 2015 as ED to oversee the Lagos and South West Directorate. She led the transformation of the directorate to profitability and sustained its impressive year-on-year growth across key performance metrics.

She has been an integral part of the current management team, responsible for the remarkable increase in the bank’s performance in the last five years, contributing over 28 per cent of the bank’s Profit Before Tax, deposits and loans.

Her over 30 years experience across various banks, including Standard Chartered, Zenith and Enterprise Bank included management positions in Legal, Treasury, Investment Banking, Retail/Commercial Banking and Corporate Banking. As ED at the legacy Enterprise Bank, she received a formal commendation from the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria as a member of the management team, that successfully turned the bank around.

In her portfolio are a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and a Master of Laws degree from Kings College, London. She also attended executive training programmes at notable global institutions, including Harvard Business School, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; INSEAD School of Business, Chicago Booth School of Business, and London Business School, among others.



Few days ago, the new Fidelity Bank boss announced a seven-point agenda to improve operational efficiency and expand the lender’s footprints. She said the agenda was focused on brand architecture, brand building and refresh, talent development and transformation, product and service delivery, agility and performance discipline, digital transformation, and regulatory compliance.

In May 2021, the management had announced plans to make Fidelity one of the Tier-1 banks by 2025 and achieve a 7.5 per cent total market share of deposits in the same year.

Along that line, Onyeali-Ikpe said her sight was fixed on positioning the bank as one of Nigeria’s leading financial institutions, leveraging automation and robotics to replace manual and repetitive processes.

In attaining the set objectives, the CEO said the bank would embark on innovation drive to increase profitability and competitiveness, raise awareness of its brand, as well as create a high performing and empowered workforce.

She added that Fidelity would also build brand loyalty through personalised and seamless customer experience, end-to-end digitisation, boosting of  performance discipline, and driving aggressive market penetration and business diversification.

“Other initiatives geared towards deepening growth include accelerated play in the Small and Medium-sized Enterprises segment, renewal of institutional banking, and reaching for transaction-based propositions in corporate banking,” she said.

With the above, financial experts believe that she will achieve a lot.



In 2021, the Board of Directors of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc appointed Miriam Olusanya as the new MD of GTB Limited, its subsidiary, thereby making her the first female boss in the bank’s 31-year history.

Olusanya, who until her appointment, was ED at the bank, took over from Segun Agbaje, the erstwhile MD, who moved into a new role as the Group CEO of the Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc. She has over 23 years of banking experience across various units, including transaction services, asset and liability management, financial markets, corporate finance and investor relations.


GTBank MD, Miriam Olusanya

She joined GTB as an executive trainee and rose to the position of General Manager until she was appointed ED in 2018. She was formerly the Group Treasurer and Head of Wholesale Banking.

Prior to her recent appointment, she had served in the Board of GTB (Gambia) as a Non-Executive Director. She obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan and proceeded to the University of Liverpool for a Master in Business Administration (Finance and Accounting). She also enrolled for various executive programmes at institutions such as Cranfield School of Management.

In 2006, she led the team that secured the appointment of the bank as a Primary Dealer/ Market Maker in Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds with the Debt Management Office.



It is too early in the day to talk about her achievements, as she is just few weeks old in office. But with her robust financial background, pundits believe that she will take the bank to a greater level from where it is.



Yemisi Edun, took over the reins of First City Monument Bank in acting capacity in January this year, after the immediate past MD, Adam Nuru, proceeded on compulsory leave.

She becomes the first female CEO of the Subomi Balogun-backed FCMB. The appointment has received the blessing of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the financial services group said in a note to the Nigerian Exchange Limited. She was appointed to hold the fort for Nuru, to allow for investigation into a paternity scandal involving the former CEO, Moyo Thomas, a former FCMB employee, and Tunde Thomas, her late husband.

Yemisi-Edun, FCMB MD

FCMB MD, Yemisi Edun

Prior to the appointment, Edun was the bank’s ED/Chief Financial Officer. She had served as the acting MD.

Edun holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Ife and a Master’s degree in International Accounting and Finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a CFA Charterholder. She is also an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, 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.

She began her career with Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu) in 1987, with main focus on Corporate Finance activities. She was also involved in the audit of Banks and Other Financial Institutions. She joined FCMB in year 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of CFO.



Since assuming her new office, Edun has shown the stuff she is made of, effectively taking charge of the bank.

Reacting to the development, frontline blogger, Linda Ikeji, through her Instagram page, stated, “Inspiring, hardworking and resilient women have fought their way to the very top of a male-dominated sector. I am of the belief that they had to work three times as hard to prove themselves. Their stories should remind us striving women that there is nothing we cannot accomplish, if we set our minds to it; there is nothing we cannot become, if we are determined and persistent; and there is no dream too big, if we believe and work hard at it.”

Anozie Egole
Anozie Egole
Anozie Egole is a Transport correspondent. He reports Maritime, Aviation and Rail/Road Transport for Financial Street.

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