Survival of the Fittest: Adeduntan laughs last as he returns, edges out FBN board

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Erstwhile managing Director of First Bank, Sola Adeduntan has emerged winner in the board room power play in Nigeria’s premier financial institution and returned to the post of which he was removed 48hours ago courtesy Central Bank Of Nigeria.
Besides,the CBN has also approved the appointment of Tunde Hassan-Odukale as Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FBN).
CBN also approved the appointment of Remi Babalola as Chairman of FBN Holdings Plc, a subsidiary of FBN.
It had earlier announced the removal of Mrs Ibukun Awosika as Chairman of the board of FBN and Mr Oba Otudeko as Chairman of the board of FBN Holdings.
It also announced the reinstatement of Sola Adeduntan as Managing Director; Gbenga Shobo as Deputy Managing Director; and Remi Oni and Abdullahi Ibrahim as Executive Directors of FBN Limited.
Adeduntan was earlier removed by the Awosika-led board and replaced with Sobo as managing director, a move the apex bank condemned as not following due process.
The apex bank made this known in a series of tweets on its twitter handle on Thursday.
The action, said CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, was to protect 31 million customers and minority shareholders of First Bank.
“First Bank of Nigeria is one of Nigeria’s systemically important banks, given its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers.
“CBN reassures First Bank of Nigeria depositors, creditors and other stakeholders of the bank of its commitment to ensure the stability of the financial system,” Emefiele said.
CBN also announced the appointments of Dr Fatade Abiodun Oluwole, Kofo Dosekun, Remi Lasaki and Dr Alimi Abdulrasaq as directors of FBN Holdings.
Other directors of FBN Holdings so appointed are Ahmed Modibbo, Khalifa Imam, Sir Peter Aliogo, and UK Eke, who was appointed as Managing Director.
Directors of FBN Limited, as announced by the apex, include. Tokunbo Martins, Uche Nwokedi, Adekunle Sonola, Isioma Ogodazi, Ebenezer Olufowose and Ishaya Elijah Dodo.
CBN had earlier raised concerns over First Bank’s failure to comply with regulatory directives on divesting its interest in Honeywell Flour Mills.
The concerns were contained in a letter dated April 26, 2021 and addressed to Ibukun Awosika, erstwhile Chairman of FBN Limited.
It was in response to their audited International Financial Reporting Standards accounts for the 2020 financial year.
In the letter signed by Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, the apex bank said:
“We further noted that after four years the bank is yet to perfect its lien on the shares of Mr. Oba Otudeko in FBN Holdings which collateralised the restructured credit facilities for Honeywell Flour Mills contrary to the conditions precedent for the restructuring of the company’s credit facility.”
The apex bank instructed First Bank to diversify the equity investments in all non-permissible entities such as Honeywell Flour Mills and Bharti Airtel Nigeria Limited within 90 days.
Emefiele said the management of CBN, in line with its powers under BOFIA 2020 approved and took the action following a review of the situation and in order to preserve stability of the bank to protect minority shareholders and depositors.
“As you may be aware, FBN is one of the systemically important banks in the Nigerian banking sector given its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers, amongst others.
“By our last assessment, FBN has over 31 million customers, with deposit base of N4.2 trillion, shareholders funds of N618 billion and NIBSS instant payment (NIP) processing capacity of 22 per cent of the industry.
“To us at the CBN, not only is it imperative to protect the minority shareholders, that have no voice to air their views, also important, is the protection of the over 31million customers of the bank who see FBN as a safe haven for their hard-earned savings,” he said.

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