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CBN Okays Abdullahi As Babalola’s Successor

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has okayed the appointment of Alhaji Ahmad Abdullahi as non-executive Director of First Bank Holding Plc and Chairman of the company to replace Mr. Remi Balalola.

The CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi disclosed late on Friday, December 17, 2021, that the Bank had been duly notified of the resignation of Mr. Babalola, as Chairman of the company against the backdrop of contest by some significant shareholders for control of First Bank Holding Plc.

While congratulating Alhaji Abdullahi on his appointment, the CBN described Babalola’s resignation as the Chairman of the company as regrettable, especially given the fact that CBN’s regulatory interventions had made positive impact and increased attractiveness of the company to both local and foreign investors.

Notwithstanding the recent development, he said the CBN acknowledged the measured achievements recorded by the company under Mr. Babalola’s watch, and thanked him for his service, even as the CBN wished him well in his future endeavours.

According to Nwanisobi, the regulatory measures taken by the CBN were yielding the expected results in terms of overhaul of corporate governance practices, restoration of confidence in the bank’s brand, increased transparency and due process in transactions as well as improved financial performance.

In line with its statutory mandate, the CBN spokesman said the CBN remained committed to ensuring transparent governance practices at the bank and the continued independence of the chairman and other persons holding key governance positions.

It will be recalled that given the systemic importance of First Bank owing to its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers, the CBN in April 2021 took decisive regulatory action to address corporate governance infractions at the bank leading to the removal of the board of First Bank Ltd and FBN Holdco Plc and appointment of a new board.

Alhaji Ahmad Abdullahi is an economist and thorough-bred professional with long years of experience in the academia, banking supervision and financial regulation, retiring as Director of Banking Supervision, CBN in February 2020. An expert in bank crisis resolution, he also serves on the boards of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), FMDQ, NDIC & AMCON.

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A day after Femi Otedola, former chairman of Forte Oil announced that he is not interested in the board of First Bank, the Chairman of the bank, Remi Babalola, is said to have resigned from his position. This is as the Central Bank of Nigeria announced the appointment of Alhaji Ahmad Abdullahi as his replacement.

Babalola had been appointed to the position by the Central Bank of Nigeria in April this year after the former chairman, Dr Oba Otudeko and the entire board of the bank was sacked by the apex bank.

While the CBN described Babalola’s resignation as regrettable, sources said his resignation may not be unconnected with his concerns about the management of the bank’s exposure to oil & gas loans.

Former chairman of Forte Oil, Femi Otedola had recently acquired majority shareholding of the bank and with additional share purchase through proxies had increased his holding from 5.01 per cnet to 7.57 per cent.

Otedola had however stated that he has no interest in being on the board of the bank saying “Being the single largest shareholder doesn’t mean I must necessarily hold a position in the bank. I believe in allowing competent people to run institutions in a professional manner and to the benefit of all the stakeholders.”

The CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi disclosed late on Friday that the Bank had been duly notified of the resignation of Babalola, as Chairman of the company against the backdrop of contest by some significant shareholders for control of First Bank Holding Plc.

Congratulating Abdullahi on his appointment, the CBN described Babalola’s resignation as the Chairman of the company as regrettable, especially given the fact that CBN’s regulatory interventions had made positive impact and increased attractiveness of the company to both local and foreign investors.

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The apex bank whilst acknowledging the measured achievements recorded by the financial institution under. Babalola’s watch, said the regulatory measures taken by the CBN were yielding the expected results in terms of overhaul of corporate governance practices, restoration of confidence in the bank’s brand, increased transparency and due process in transactions as well as improved financial performance.

Before his appointment as the chairman of the bank, Babalola had served as Minister of State for Finance on July 26, 2007, prior to which he was an Executive Director of First Bank of Nigeria Plc in charge of Lagos and West business as well as consumer Banking and electronic payments.

He has both brain-on and hands-on experience in organisational renewal, value creation and leadership effectiveness. Remi Babalola was a Deputy General Manager (DGM) and Divisional Head of Corporate Planning & Group Coordination of the Bank before his appointment to the board.

Babalola was a General Manager with Zenith Bank Limited before he was headhunted by FirstBank. He had a meritorious rise through the ranks from a Deputy Manager to a General Manager, spanning over a decade of cognate banking experience.

His background and experience includes development and implementation of new initiatives to upgrade customer service quality, management of a high quality risk assets portfolio, management of a fast growing deposit base, proactive formulation of strategies to generating superior profitability and direction of asset liability management.

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