The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has appointed Ahmad Abdullahi as non-executive director and chairman of First Bank Holding Plc following the resignation of Remi Balalola from the position.
According to the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, “The bank had been duly notified of the resignation of Babalola, as chairman of the company against the backdrop of contest by some significant shareholders for control of First Bank Holding Plc.”
The CBN described Babalola’s resignation as the chairman of the FBNH Plc as regrettable, especially given the fact that CBN’s regulatory interventions had made a positive impact and increased the attractiveness of the company to both local and foreign investors.
The regulatory bank said that it acknowledged the measured achievements recorded by the company under Babalola’s watch, and thanked him for his service, even as the CBN wished him well in his future endeavours.
He said that in line with its statutory mandate, the CBN remained committed to ensuring transparent governance practices at the bank and the continued independence of the chairman and other persons holding key governance positions.
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Given the systemic importance of First Bank owing to its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers, the CBN had in April 2021, taken decisive regulatory action to address corporate governance infractions at the bank leading to the removal of the board of First Bank Ltd and FBN Holdco Plc and appointment of a new board.
Abdullahi is an economist and thorough-bred professional with long years of experience in the academia, banking supervision and financial regulation, retiring as Director of Banking Supervision, CBN in February 2020.
An expert in bank crisis resolution, he also serves on the boards of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), FMDQ, NDIC and AMCON.
Babalola was appointed chairman, April 29, 2021, and had barely spent one year.
In a parting mail yesterday, Babalola wrote: “My esteemed Co-Directors of FirstBank, the over 7-months journey since my appointment by the CBN to the Board of the Holdings Company has been a mix of hard work, sacrifices, battles and consensus building, all aimed at returning the institution to the path of stability and sustainable growth.
“Though, the assigned mandate has been daunting, we have within the short period successfully reinstated confidence in the institution, overhauled its corporate governance and introduced openness and due process in all transactions.
“However, after deep reflection on recent developments relative to my personal values, I resigned my appointment as a Non-Executive Director and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of FBN Holdings with immediate effect.
“I thank you for your unflinching support, co-operation and valuable contributions during my short leadership. I wish you the very best as you soldier on.”