Friday, Jan 15th 2021 1:49 PM

Market Digest Nigeria


Polaris Bank MD, Tokunbo Abiru, steps down; joins Lagos East Senatorial race

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Polaris Bank Limited, Tokunbo Abiru, has announced his retirement from the service of Polaris Bank, effective August 31, 2020, having completed his second two-year tenure at the helm of the Bank.

In an emotion-laden farewell message to staff of the Bank, Mr. Abiru explained that having served meritoriously in the banking industry for nearly three decades, he had resolved to retire to enable him contribute his quota in other areas of the society.

Mr Abiru will immediately join politics to enable him to take a shot at the senatorial slot for Lagos East District which became vacant following the death of Senator Adebayo Osinowo who died on June 15 at 64.

The banker is among strong contenders for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the forthcoming senatorial byelection in Lagos.

Sharing his scorecard while serving as the CEO of the Bank, Mr. Abiru noted: “It gives me great pleasure to say that, with the support of the Board, Executive Management and all of you, we have delivered on the mandate given to us by the Central Bank of Nigeria upon assumption of office in 2016.

“Going down memory lane, he reminded staff of the bank’s poor state before he assumed office in 2016 as the Group Managing Director of the erstwhile SkyeBank.

He noted that all prudential ratios were out of compliance with regulatory requirements, Capital was negative, the loan book was mostly delinquent, while liquidity faced deposit attrition.

Furthermore, the IT infrastructure was dilapidated and employee morale was low, resulting in erosion of public confidence.

He praised the staff for working with him to reverse the trend and bring about an institution that has become a compelling case study in corporate turnaround within Nigeria’s financial services industry.

“We have reversed almost all regulatory ratios for good and currently rank amongst the very best in the industry,” Mr Abiru said. “There can be no better testament to the much-improved state of the Bank than the full year 2019 results in which the Bank posted Profit After Tax (PAT) of N27billion.

“To buttress the fact that this is sustainable, the Bank’s first half 2020 result showed a PAT of over N18billion, despite the tremendous headwinds brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We also commenced the refreshment of the Bank’s IT infrastructure, which had largely become outdated and dilapidated due to years of under-investment. As a result of the successful completion of the first phase of the IT Refresh Program, which consisted mainly of upgrade of the infrastructure and digital platforms, and relocation of the Bank’s Data Centres to Tier III data locations as mandated by CBN regulations and in line with global best practices, the Bank’s customers are now experiencing significantly improved service delivery.

“In addition, by introducing and committing resources to the Agency Banking model, we have contributed in no small measure to deepening financial inclusion for the unbanked and under-banked throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria.”

He restated that today’s Polaris Bank has been successfully positioned as a bank of choice in Nigeria due to the work that has been put in by the various stakeholders including the loyal customers of the Bank.

On the issue of leadership succession, Mr. Abiru said, “During this period leading to my final disengagement, I will work closely with the CBN, the Board of Directors and Executive Management of our Bank to ensure a seamless transition and smooth handover to my successor.”

Tokunbo Abiru was appointed the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the then SkyeBank in July 2016.Before his appointment, he had served in several capacities in some of the leading Banks in Nigeria’s banking industry, including at one time as an Executive Director at First Bank of Nigeria Plc.He was at various times non–executive director in some leading companies, including Econet (now Airtel) Mobile Networks Limited, and FBN Capital Limited (now FBN Merchant Bank Limited).Mr Abiru also had a brief stint in public service, having served from 2011 to 2013 as Commissioner of Finance for Lagos State Government under the leadership of Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN).Following the establishment of Polaris Bank in September 2018, the Central Bank of Nigeria affirmed the performance of the bank’s Board of Directors, and reappointed Mr Abiru to lead the new Bank.


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