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Ebenezer Onyeagwu: A global brand taking Zenith Bank to the zenith

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Managing a global financial institution requires much more than being book-smarts. Ingenuity, creativity and discernment are indispensable.As such, the emergence of Ebenezer Onyeagwu as Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (GMD/CEO) of Zenith Bank Plc, a global brand, didn’t come to many as a surprise.

The Bank had announced the appointment of Onyeagwu as its GMD/CEO with effective June 1, 2019. The appointment is consistent with the bank’s tradition and succession strategy of grooming leaders from within. He
replaced Mr. Peter Amangbo, whose tenure expired on May 31, 2019.

Besides a proven intellectual capacity, Onyeagwu, over the years, has displayed robust managerial and problem-solving skill sets in the banking industry, making him a natural fit to oversee a behemoth financial institution of international repute.

He is an experienced chartered accountant and astute financial expert trained in reputable institutions in Nigeria, United Kingdom and United States of America.

A graduate of Accounting from Auchi Polytechnic, widely recognized as an institution that has produced some of Nigeria’s most renowned Chartered Accountants, he obtained the Higher National Diploma in Accounting in
1987, finishing as the 2nd best graduating student in Accounting with a “Good” grade (Upper Credit) which is equivalent of a 2nd Class Upper.

He qualified as a Chartered Accountant (ACA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) in 1988/89, a feat he achieved almost immediately after graduation during his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year. He was the first among his graduating class to qualify as a chartered accountant.

He subsequently became a Fellow (FCA) of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), in 2003. He has over 29 years of experience in the banking industry in Nigeria, out of which he spent 17 in Zenith Bank Plc.
Before joining Zenith Bank Plc, he worked at Citizens International Bank Limited between 1991 and 2002. He was one of the most outstanding branch managers in the bank, winning multiple awards and recognitions for his
brilliant, excellent and highly professional performance on the job.

He joined Zenith Bank Plc in 2002 as a Senior Manager, in the Internal Control and Audit Group of the bank. His professionalism, competence, integrity and commitment to the objectives of the bank saw him rise
swiftly between 2003 and 2005, first, as Assistant General Manager, then Deputy General Manager, and eventually, General Manager of the bank.

In these capacities, he handled strategies for new business and branch development, management of risk assets portfolios, treasury functions, strategic top level corporate, multinationals and public institutional relationships, among others.

He was appointed Executive Director of the bank in 2013, and put in charge of Lagos and South-South Zones as well as strategic groups/business units of the bank, including Financial Control & Strategic Planning, Treasury and Correspondent Groups, Human Resources Group, Oil and Gas Group, and Credit Risk Management Group, etc.

Onyeagwu emerged Deputy Managing Director of the bank in 2016. In that capacity, he deputized for the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the bank. He also had direct oversight of the bank’s Financial Control and Strategic Planning, Risk Management, Retail Banking, Institutional and Corporate banking business portfolios, IT Group, Credit Administration, Treasury and Foreign Exchange Trading.

Onyeagwu is an alumnus of the prestigious University of Oxford, England, from where he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Strategy, and a certificate in Macroeconomics. He also undertook extensive executive
level education in Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School of Columbia University, the Harvard Business School of Harvard University, in the United States.

At Wharton Business School, he undertook the CEO academy and leadership training programmes. His strategic skills were further nurtured and honed at Columbia Business School strategy training programme. At the Harvard Business School, he acquired capabilities in negotiations and critical decision-making.

In the last six years, Onyeagwu has been on the board of Zenith Bank Ghana, Zenith Pensions Custodian Limited, Zenith Nominees Limited and African Finance Corporation (AFC). In AFC, he serves on the Board Risk &
Investment Committee (BRIC), and Board Audit & Compliance Committee (BAAC).  At Zenith Bank Ghana, he chairs the Board Credit and Governance Committees.

Within the market, he is highly respected for his consistent and impeccable character, brilliance, deep knowledge and insight of the market, as well as for his strong professional and ethical principles, which have continued to endear him to all stakeholders.

Specifically, Onyeagwu proved his re-engineering expertise by driving the astronomical growth of the profitability of Ikeja Corporate Group of Zenith Bank, with very high-risk assets quality.

At Citizens Bank, he turned around the fortunes of the Warri Delta Branch which was on the verge of being closed due to strings of losses and frauds, making it one of the most profitable and multiple award-winning branches in the bank at that time.

He started his working career as a Management Accountant in 1989 at HFP Engineering Limited, a top developer of residential, commercial and industrial property in Lagos and a major player in the national construction sub-sector.

He was in the team that conceived the business plan for the actualization of the landmark, highbrow and trend-setting Victoria Garden City Residential Estate.

Still, while his ascension to top of Zenith Bank attests to his tenacity, the task that lies before him will put in focus his ingenuity and broad understanding of the financial system.

Managing a global brand from within Nigeria’s rewarding but convoluting business climate isn’t a task for the faint-hearted. Onyeagwu’s leadership of one of Nigeria’s apex banks clearly puts him in the spotlight of a banking sector that grapples with critical challenges.

First, he must deal with the issue of weak capital base in the banking sector. A few years ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria gave a directive to all Nigerian banks to raise their capital base from 1 billion naira to at least 25 billion naira by December 31, 2005.

At the time, most banks did not have enough money to meet the requirement, leading to a foreclosure of over 70 percent of banks. Out of 89 banks only 25 emerged after meeting the 25 billion naira benchmark.

With the evolving financial climate, prospective spike international loans and the desire of the bank to engage new frontiers, the drive to constantly shore up the capital base, will be crucial.

The new Zenith Bank boss also has the task of entrenching ethical standards and broadening professionalism not just within his immediate financial sphere but in the larger financial community.

In recent times, the Central Bank of Nigeria has been intervening to investigate fraud, greed, insider abuse, etc. These were the succeeding results of unethical behavior from both bank staff and management.

What’s more, issues of poor corporate governance practices, over expansion, corruption of bank officials and improper risk management, implementation of the full abolition of commission on turn over policy, inaccessibility of banks in rural areas are issues that he must deal with within the banking community.

On another level, factors like slow Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, recession, regulatory pressure low oil prices and dwindling availability of foreign currency, have remained topical in the banking sector which he will be confronted with.

To underscore the magnitude of the challenge, slower economic growth and lower risk appetite from banks will continue to translate into subdued credit growth and weak core earnings generation soon.

From the benefit of hindsight, Nigeria had a dwindling economic growth since the end of 2015, the rate dropped to an estimated 3.0% which adversely affected the Nigerian banking industry.

Nonetheless, for many watchers of the banking sector, Onyeagwu, having grown through the ranks and have become refined through the rigours of the banking system has the depth, creativity and discernment to not just
navigate and dominate the thorny landscapes of the Nigerian banking sector but  emboss the Zenith brand on the global financial community in the evolving dispensation.

-Additional information by PointBlank News

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BUSINESS

Zenith Bank appoints Henry Oroh Executive Director, Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, Non Executive Director

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Henry Oroh, Executive Director, Zenith Bank Plc

Also, the Board has approved the appointment of Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, FCA, as an Independent Non-Executive Director.

Both appointments are effective September 1, 2019, and have been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Henry Oroh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the University of Benin, Edo State and an MBA from the Lagos State University as well as an LLB Degree from the University of Lagos. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an honorary member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIBN), Nigeria.

He has over two decades of banking experience. He began his banking career in 1992 at Citibank where he served for seven (7) years in Operations, Treasury and Marketing.

He joined Zenith Bank in February 1999 and has worked in various Groups and Departments within the Zenith Group Office. His expertise spans Operations, Information Technology, Treasury, Marketing, including the Manufacturing, Food and Beverages, Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Gas, Public Sector, Consumer, as well as Corporate Banking and Business Development.

In April 2012, he was seconded to Zenith Bank Ghana Limited as an Executive Director and became the Managing Director/ Chief Executive in February 2016, where he successfully spearheaded the phenomenal growth of the Zenith Brand both within the Ghana market and the West African sub-region.

Henry has attended several Leadership Programmes and Executive Management Courses at the Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, New York, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, HEC Paris, JP Morgan Chase, UK and the Lagos Business School.

He comes to the Board of Zenith Bank Plc with strong competencies in Credit & Marketing, Operations, Information Technology, Treasury and impressive Leadership skills.

Dr. Al-Mujtaba Abubakar is currently the Managing Director of Apt Pensions Funds Managers Limited.

He is a graduate of the Leeds Polytechnic, UK. He is a renowned Chartered Accountant and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

Dr. Abubakar has extensive and tremendous experience in the financial services industry, audit and consulting. He worked with the firm of Akintola Williams Deloitte between January 2000 and November 2008, and rose to become the Partner and Board Member of West Africa sub-region. Prior to this, he had served on the Board of several financial institutions in Nigeria.

He has attended several management and leadership training programmes and conferences both within and outside the country.

He brings to the Board of the bank tremendous track record in Risk Management, Credit & Marketing, Auditing and very outstanding leadership skills.

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FirstBank Agric Expo set to promote new Agribusiness opportunities  

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Nigeria’s premier and leading financial services provider, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has announced that its 2019 FirstBank Agric Expo would hold on Friday, 30 August 2019 at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos. The 2019 edition – the third in the series –  is themed “Agricultural Value Chain – Spotlighting Opportunities and Managing Risks” would have Professor Benedict Oramah, President of AFREXIM Bank as the Keynote Speaker.

The annual FirstBank Agric Expo, launched in 2017 provides the lead in national discourse on sustainable agriculture value-chain as a substantial source of Nigeria’s economic development, improved contribution to her balance of trade as well as foreign exchange.The 2019 edition would host over 600 delegates and over 60 exhibitors to display the latest technology in farm equipment, tools and machineries as well as packaged finished agricultural produce, logistics and supply, thereby keeping the participants and sundry agribusiness practitioners abreast with new opportunities in the Agricultural industry.

Besides the plenary session, the expo will feature three (3) Masterclasses with in-depth analysis on specific areas of Agribusiness, facilitated by enterprising Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The Masterclass facilitators include Mr. Leonard Anyanwu, Group Executive Director, Saro International Limited; Mr Segun Ogunwale, Team Lead, Kominity Digital and Mr Bamidele Ayemibo Managing Director, 3T Impex Trade Centrewho will provide insight as well as share success stories and experiences.

Expressing his delight on FirstBank’s leading role at not just promoting Agriculture but diversifying the Nigerian economy, the CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Dr. Adesola Adeduntan said ”in the last 125 years, more than any other financial institution, we have played a key role in financing different sectors of not just the Nigerian economy but other economies in sub-Saharan Africa. As Nigeria expands opportunities in its non-oil sector – especially Agriculture – we remain committed to the growth of the agricultural sector and its contribution to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.”

“Our consistency in convening the FirstBank Agric Expo, which is in its third consecutive edition, is a demonstration of our commitment to building the agribusiness economy which is capable of delivering sustained prosperity by meeting domestic food security goals, generating exports, supporting sustainable income and creating employment opportunities”, he concluded

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Unity Bank partners Signal Alliance and Businessday to host SME Clinic

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As part of collaborative initiative to consistently promote Small & Medium scale enterprises (SMEs), Unity Bank recently held its maiden edition of SME clinic in conjunction with Signal Alliance and Businessday Newspaper as a capacity building workshop to bridge knowledge gap.

The SME clinic was designed to boost SMEs operators by leveraging effective branding and marketing strategy expected to play key role in creating added value for products and making start up become a big brand enterprise.

Coming on the verge of the 5th industrial revolution and the need to put SMEs ahead of the fast paced developments, the clinic provided platform to expose participants drawn amongst Fintech operators, Retailers, Social services, Schools, Contractors, Professional service firms, Wholesalers, Manufacturers, Hospitality, NGOs, Clubs and Associations, Supplies and Agric value chain to the opportunities available as convergence of technology and human begin to take center stage.

Commenting on the Clinic, the Head of SME, Unity Bank Plc, Opeyemi Ojesina said that as a key market focus contributing about 48% of the national GDP in the last five year, 50% of industrial jobs and nearly 90% of the manufacturing sector in terms of number of enterprises, hosting a capacity building initiative of this nature enables the Bank to have more insight for enhancing financial inclusion plan for SMEs.

He further stated that as a leading Bank in the advocacy for SME, Unity Bank has developed innovative products for SMEs aimed at enhancing greater access to financial services, financial advisory and cluster marketing initiatives.

Participants were of the view that the SME clinic gave practical insights into techniques for creating distinctive brand concept centered on consumers and appreciated the three entities that organized the workshop.

The Chief Technology Officer, Signal Alliance, Mr Uchechi Nwaukwa used the platform to launch CloudGo, an IT product built on Microsoft cloud platform.

As a “solution that enhances communication, collaboration and scales innovation for business becomes a necessity” he further stated that “the product is a results of huge investment in IT infrastructure which helps to overcome upgrade challenges, enhance data protection and disaster recovery challenges faced by small businesses.

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