First Bank

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Questions Emerge About Who Takes Over At GTBank As CEO Segun Agbaje’s Tenure Ends Without A Deputy In Place

The clock is fast ticking. Years have gradually thinned into months and now, weeks. By 2021, Segun Agbaje would statutorily cease to be the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Guaranty Trust Bank.

This is based on a Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, policy which came into effect in 2010, stating that the appointment of bank CEOs as approved by the board must also be ratified at the bank’s annual general meeting and such term of appointment in the first instance shall not exceed five years, renewable for another five years provided the cumulative does not exceed ten years. This was one of the revolutionary policies of the then CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Agbaje was appointed Acting Managing Director in April 2011 when his predecessor, Tayo Aderinokun, then in the terminal stages of a diagnosis of lung cancer, proceeded on medical leave. Upon Aderinokun’s death in June 2011, Agbaje was named substantive MD/CEO of the bank. That was a year after the new policy came into effect.

The University of San Fransisco-trained accountant is credited with pioneering SMS banking via the *737# option that allows customers to transfer money from their mobile phones to any other bank account nationwide. According to Omar Ben Yedder, group publisher of African Banker magazine, “Mr. Segun Agbaje… has built an institution that is proudly African and truly international.

Since assuming office in 2011, he has led the bank to become one of the most profitable banks in Africa with a well-defined CSR strategy that continues to give back to its host communities through its many philanthropy initiatives.”

He is also credited with a steely resolve and shrewdness bordering almost on ruthlessness; a no friend-no foe stance to loans, which has pitted him against many high profile debtors. Agbaje does not suffer fools gladly when you owe his bank, and no amount of intercession from influential Nigerians can make him demur or dither in executing his managerial style of confiscating properties used as collateral.

Not a few prominent businessmen have been thrown into profound gloom after the loss of their prime properties to GTBank. That is the crux of the GTB board’s problem. 

The bank is currently without a substantive Deputy Managing Director who would have eased into the role as Banjo Adegboungbe, the former DMD, was appointed in February this year as the substantive MD/CEO of Coronation Merchant Bank. This has thrown the slot open to the executive directors but the board is said to be on the lookout for a candidate that possesses the virtues of Agbaje, not a lily-livered person. 

The lobbying for the MD/CEO position has become even more intense during this period of uncertainty in the banking industry due to the corona virus pandemic’s effect on the global economy.

Beyond banking ingenuity and experience, the board wants a gritty MD that can take on debtors without batting an eyelid or caring whose ox is gored.

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