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Women in ascendency in the banking industry



Women in ascendency in the banking industry

…as female MD/CEOs lead 9 Nigerian banks

It has never been better for Nigerian women in the banking sector, as the last appointments by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, of bank chief executive officers for three banks over regulatory infractions, brought the number of female CEOs of banks to nine, the highest at a any time in history.

In the past, there seemed to be a glass ceiling for the top jobs, such as chairman and CEO, in the sector for women, no woman occupied either position till the late 90s, when Chief Bola Kurfeji Olubi became executive chairman of UBA.

However, things since then have changed for the better. For decades, Nigerian women have been making waves in the banking industry. With the groundbreaking achievements and remarkable success of these trailblazing women, the impacts of the female gender on the growth of the Nigerian banking industry cannot be underrated. The current occupants are coming in heels of pioneers, who broke jinx into this highly competitive position. Mrs. Cecilia Ibru, former MD/CEO of Oceanic, was the first to brace the tape, followed by Mrs. Funke Osibudu, in Union bank. Currently, nine Nigerian banks have female Managing directors/Chief Executive Officers ( MDs/CEOs). Below is a profile of the nine pioneering female MDs/CEOs in Nigerian banks.

Yemisi Edun – FCMB

Women in ascendency in the banking industry

Mrs. Yemisi Edun, FCMB MD

Yemisi Edun is the MD of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) and the first female MD of the bank. She assumed the position on May 1, 2015, following CBN’s approval.

She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife (Obafemi Awolowo University) 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° Charter holder. She is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers; an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria; a Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A; and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

Yemisi began her career with Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu) in 1987 with a main focus in Corporate Finance. She was also involved in audits of Banks and Other Financial Institutions.

She joined FCMB in the year 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before assuming the role of Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.

Under Yemisi’s leadership, FCMB has experienced exponential growth. Since 2015, the bank has received recognition and awards, such as Best SME Bank in Africa, Excellence in FinTech in the payment category, Best Bank for Women Entrepreneurs, and CSR Bank of the Year, Investment in Education & Youth Empowerment, among others.

Miriam Chidiebele Olusanya – GT Bank

Women in ascendency in the banking industry

Olusanya, GT Bank MD

Miriam Chidiebele Olusanya is the first female MD of Guaranty Trust Bank (Nigeria) Limited, a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holding Company PIc (GTCO). She assumed this position in July 2021.

Miriam joined the Bank as an Executive Trainee in 1998, rose through the ranks, and has amassed over 25 years of banking experience that cuts across Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Corporate Finance, Investment Banking, Investor Relations, and Transaction Services.

She holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm) degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and a Master of Business Administration, majoring in Finance and Accounting, from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Before she was appointed the bank’s MD, she was appointed as the Executive Director in 2018 and served as the Group Treasurer and Head of the wholesale Banking Division, responsible for the bank’s Asset & Liability Management as well as Financial Markets dealings across all African subsidiaries.

Since Miriam’s assumption into office, GT Bank has experienced significant growth. The bank has received recognitions and awards such as Most Innovative Bank in Africa, Best Mobile Banking App, and Best Bank for CSR in Nigeria, among others.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe – Fidelity bank

Fidelity Family Weekend thrills families 

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Fidelity Bank MD

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Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe is the present MD/CEO of Fidelity Bank Plc, with over 32 years of experience in shaping growth strategies and driving pivotal initiatives within the banking sector. Through the bank’s exceptional performance under her management, it has won awards for the fastest-growing bank, best payment solution provider, and MSME & Entrepreneurship Financing Bank of the Year.

She joined Fidelity Bank as an Executive Director in 2015 and became the first female MD/CEO of the bank in January 2021.

She started her banking career at African Continental Bank as a Legal officer. Since then, she has attained several positions in Corporate, Commercial, Retail Banking, Treasury, and Legal departments.

She holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and proceeded to the Nigerian Law School. She obtained a Master’s degree in Law from King’s College, London, and a Diploma in Organizational Leadership from the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. In addition, Nneka attended the Harvard Business School, INSEAD, and the Wharton School.

Tomi Somefun – Unity Bank

Women in ascendency in the banking industry

Mrs. Tomi Somefun, Unity Bank MD


Tomi Somefun is the MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc. Before her appointment in August 2015, she served as the Executive Director overseeing the Lagos and South-West Business Directorates, the Financial Institution Division, and the Treasury Department of the Bank.

She is a career-driven professional with 35 years post qualification experience, over 26 of which were in the banking sector, spanning key segments including Treasury & Investment Banking, Corporate Banking, Retail, and Commercial Banking Operations.

Tomi had a distinguished career with the UBA group where she led two major subsidiaries of UBA as MD/CEO including a start-up company, UBA Pensions Custodian, where she was the pioneer Managing Director. Tomi worked with two leading consulting firms: KPMG and Arthur Andersen (now KPMG).

She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN). She holds a Bachelor of Education in English Language from the Obafemi Awolowo University and was conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration (D.BA) by the Redeemer’s University (RUN). She is an alumnus of the Columbia Business School, United States of America, and INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France, and holds a Certificate of Management Excellence from Harvard Business School (HBS). She is a member of various professional bodies including the Institute of Directors (IOD), the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria (BDAN), and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

She won the 2019 Top 25 CEOs Next Bull Award in recognition of the bank’s outstanding performance in the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) market, as its stock appreciated by 101.89% in 2019, making it the best-performing stock on the NSE.

Kafilat Araoye – Lotus Bank

Kafilat Araoye

Kafilat Araoye

Kafilat Araoye is the MD/CEO of Lotus Bank, a non-interest bank. She is a well-versed banker with 30 years of experience in all aspects of core banking, such as International and Domestic Operations, Payments, General Management, Business Development, Risk Management, Human Resources, and Strategy.

Preceding the appointment as the MD/CEO of Lotus Bank in 2020, she worked at GT Bank for 17 years and two months, where she started her banking career as a Pioneer Head of the personal Unit. However, she started her career in 1988 at National Oil and Chemicals Marketing Company PLC (presently Conoil Nigeria PLC). She served as a director at XYZ Outsourcing and Management Consulting Limited from July 2015 to 2020.

Kafilat Araoye obtained a Bachelor of Arts in History from Obafemi Awolowo University in 1985, and a M.Sc. in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from the University of Lagos in 1987, graduating as the best student in her class.

She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Society for Human Resources Management, United States of America (USA), and a Certified Islamic Finance Executive from Ethica Institute of Islamic Finance, the Chartered Institute for Securities. She is also an honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Nigeria.

Under her tenure, Lotus Bank, which is deeply committed to ethical banking, has won the best emerging Islamic retail bank award and the Best Digital Banking Platform (Non-Interest Bank)

Halima Buba – SunTrust Bank

Women in ascendency in the banking industry

Halima Buba, SunTrust Bank MD

Halima is currently the MD/CEO of SunTrust Bank Nigeria Limited. She is a seasoned banker with over 22 years of experience obtained from working in Allstates Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Inland Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, and Ecobank Nigeria Limited.

She was a Co-founder and former Executive Director of Taj Consortium, an organisation of young dynamic technocrats and financial advisory experts.


She holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Business Management from the University of Maiduguri and an MBA from the same University. Halima is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School Senior Management Programme. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants and an Honorary Senior Member of the Institute of Directors of Nigeria (loD).

Halima is passionate about youth and women empowerment and consistently makes philanthropic contributions towards girl child Education.

Under her leadership, SunTrust bank declared a profit before tax of ₦1.51 billion in the year ended December 31st, 2022, this indicates a 195.6% growth from 2021’s figure, which was a ₦1.58 billion loss.

Bukola Smith – FSDH Merchant Bank

Women in ascendency in the banking industry

Bukola Smith

Bukola Smith is the MD/CEO of the First Securities Discount House (FSDH) Merchant Bank. She is an expert with 29 years of experience in the banking industry with a proven track record of strategic execution and leadership. Bukola assumed the MD/CEO office in April 2021.

She had her first degree in Economics from the University of Lagos and holds an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, U.K. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Nigeria (ICAN), Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers and an Associate Member, Certified Institute of Pensions (Nigeria).

Before attaining the MD position, she was the Executive Director of Business Development at FCMB and held several other leadership positions since joining in 2006. She was the Divisional Head of Treasury and Divisional Head of Internal Audit and handled the Investment Banking and Registrar Subsidiaries of the Bank. Under her, in three years the bank’s SME-focused team moved from 5th position in the industry to 1st position in 2019. (KPMG Customer Service Report 2020).

In addition, she established the FCMB Women in Business Desk (branded SheVentures), which supports female entrepreneurs; and set up FCMB Trustees and FCMB Custody.

She worked with FSB International Bank from 1992 to 2000 and Fidelity Bank plc from 2000 to 2006 gaining experience in several areas of banking including treasury operations, international trade services, foreign and local currency trading, bond trading, Correspondent Banking and relationship management of Non-Bank Financial Institutions and Private Banking Clients.

Bukola currently sits on the boards of Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR), and the Toyin Oni Foundation (NGO for cancer awareness).

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu- Citibank Nigeria

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu became the MD/CEO of Citibank Nigeria Limited in September 2020. Ireti, a banker extraordinaire with over 32 years of experience in the banking industry emerged as the first female CEO of Citibank Nigeria.

Before her appointment, she was the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) Head, of Payments and Receivables, Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) under Citi’s Institutional Clients Group (ICG) based in London, UK. She has also been on the Board of Citibank Nigeria Limited for the last five years as a Non-Executive Director.

She has won awards in the UK and South Africa including Financial Service Leader of the Year 2019 at the Black British Business Awards, Innovate Finance Women in FinTech Power List, 2017 and Best Professional Executive, 2009, at the Nigeria Achievement Awards (presented in South Africa by the former President Goodluck Jonathan).

She obtained a BA Hons in Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University, UK, and has an MBA from the University of Bradford, UK. She also has a certification from the Berkeley Executive Education.

She has held leadership positions across Citi’s businesses in the UK, Nigeria, and South Africa, some of which include Relationship Management with Global Subsidiaries Group, the Public Sector Banking Team, TTS Sales, Corporate Finance, and Citi’s ITS business in two of largest markets in Africa.

Ireti co-founded two mentorship programs within Citi – the Sapphire Leadership Program for the Middle East and Africa, and the Momentum Program in the UK. She is currently the EMEA co-chair for Citi Women’s Affinity Group and represents EMEA on the Global Affinity Steering Committee at Citi.

Yetunde Oni – Union Bank

Women in ascendency in the banking industry

Yetunde Oni, Union Bank MD

Yetunde Bolanle Oni was appointed by CBN as the MD/CEO of Union Bank in January 2024. In her career in the banking sector spanning over 30 years, she has held senior positions in international and local banks.

Before this, Yetunde worked at Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited as the pioneer head of commercial clients in September 2014. She became the Managing Director & Country Head of Commercial Banking in West Africa in 2017. In 2021, she became the first female MD and CEO of the Bank in Sierra Leone.

Before Joining Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Ltd, Yetunde started her career at Prime Merchant Bank in the Treasury & Money Markets Group. For eleven years, she was a Relationship Manager at Ecobank Transnational Incorporated.

Yetunde graduated from the University of Ibadan with a Bachelor’s degree (Honours) in Economics. She has attained several international and local professional and leadership certifications, including an MBA from Bangor University. Yetunde is an alumnus of Oxford University, INSEAD Business School, Singapore, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Loans & Risk Management, an Honorary Senior Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (HCIB), a member of Women in Management and Business (WIMBIZ) and an invested member of esteemed industry affiliations within and outside the Bank.

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