Atedo Peterside

By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU

There is something to give to people who know who they are and where they are going. Atedo Peterside is one such person.

Since coming to national limelight through his establishing the IBTC brand in 1989, Atedo Peterside has left no one in doubt that he is willing to go to any lengths to stand for and defend his right to hold on to his convictions, whatever they may be at any point in time.

It was indeed in the course of this penchant for living his own life that Peterside crafted his famously no-holds-barred riposte to then CBN Governor, Chukwuma Soludo,

when the latter announced on 6th July 2004, the plan to introduce and embark on the landmark Banking Consolidation Exercise. Peterside was so much in disagreement with the contents of the plan that he took out good money to buy up advertorial space in the nation’s print media to put on record his objections.

Explaining what the Banking Consolidation exercise was all about, Soludo had pointed out that it was imperative that the nation should have bigger and stronger banking institutions that would be in a position to drive and finance bigger ticket transactions than their extant capital base could allow them to do:

‘The Nigerian banking system today is fragile and marginal. Our vision is a banking system that is part of the global change, and which is strong, competitive and reliable. It is a banking system which depositors can trust, and investors can rely upon. Evolving such a banking system is a collective responsibility of all agents in the Nigerian economy,’ the then apex banker had said.

While not discounting the need for bigger, stronger, better-disciplined banks in the nation’s banking landscape, Peterside faulted the approach being adopted by the CBN of forcing Mergers and Acquisitions, M&As, preferring a rather alternative growth enhancement programme that would see banks like IBTC growing more organically into the bigger, stronger and better regulated financial services vehicles that the then managers of the apex bank were desiring.

It is a similar expression of indignation that he was to show days ago when another CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, invited him over to a parley to discuss the state of the economy and the way forward.

One to stick to basic principles, he queried why the invitation was coming even in the same season when the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria was being hounded by the authorities. As he argued, it was indeed most important that we should, as a nation, demonstrate a greater commitment to the broader environment of positioning ourselves as a law-governed society as that is indeed a weighty point for those who determine which societies they should invest in.

To put it in even better context, Peterside took to twitter to explain himself better:

‘In 1888 King Jaja of Opobo was exiled by the British to St. Vincent in the West Indies. This act of injustice still hurts us in Opobo Town until this day. The Nigerian Constitution makes such acts illegal. How can Kano Governor exile Emir Sanusi in 2020?’

Born in 1955, Atedo Peterside attended Kings College, Lagos, the City University, London and the London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE. Delving into the world of business at an early age, at 33, he applied for and secured the licence to start the Investment Banking and Trust Company, IBTC, Limited.

Working with a small team of equally determined goal-getters, the IBTC team under Peterside’s leadership as its founding Managing Director/CEO took the nation’s financial landscape by storm and in a matter of years, it had become a very strong player in the nation’s investment banking arena.

Compelled to accommodate other financial sector interests as part of the Banking Consolidation exercise, IBTC entered into a merger with first, Chartered Bank Plc and Regent Bank Plc; and later, the South-Africa originating Standard Bank. The latter merger was to bring into the bear, the new rebranded entity, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, even as it led to Peterside moving up from the position of MD/CEO of the Bank to now serve as Chairman of the new, bigger entities, firstly, StanbicIBTC Bank Plc between 2007 and 2012 and secondly, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, from 2012-2017.

In 2017, Peterside served notice of his disengagement from his role as Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc but has however continued to serve as a Director and member of the board of Standard Bank of South Africa.

Like him or hate him, when it comes to discussing issues of concern in his nation and immediate home environment, Peterside does make his point and ensures that he does so strongly. For societies like ours that need a lot of principled interventions, his voice is one that should be strongly treasured. Nigeria needs such men of grit and gumption; men that stand for something and who would take positions on matters that they feel so passionate about even if they are inconvenient.