First Bank Crisis Consumes Babalola, CBN Okays Abdullahi As New Chairman

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BY EDMOND ODOK – In a deft move to quell the festering crisis rocking First Bank Holdings Plc, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has approved the appointment of Alhaji Ahmad Abdullahi as non-executive Director and Chairman of the company to replace embattled former chairman, Mr Remi Balalola.

This is as the apex bank acknowledged being duly notified of the resignation of Mr. Babalola amid stiff competition by some interest groups and significant shareholders for the soul of the company.

A statement by CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, which disclosed the latest development on Friday night, congratulated Alhaji Abdullahi on his appointment, describing Babalola’s resignation as the Chairman of the company as regrettable.

The statement said this is against the backdrop that CBN’s regulatory interventions had made a positive impact and increased the company’s attractiveness to both local and foreign investors.

Nwanisobi stated that despite recent developments, the CBN acknowledges 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.

The apex bank spokesman said the regulatory measures by the CBN were yielding the expected results in terms of an overhaul of corporate governance practices, restoration of confidence in the bank’s brand, increased transparency, and due process in transactions as well as improved financial performance.

According to him, the CBN, in line with its statutory mandate, remains committed to ensuring transparent governance practices at the bank and the continued independence of the chairman and other persons holding key governance positions.

Given First Bank’s systemic importance due to its historical significance, balance sheet size, large customer base and high level of interconnectedness with other financial service providers, the CBN in April 2021 took decisive regulatory action to address corporate governance infractions at the bank.

The move led to the removal of the board of First Bank Ltd and FBN Holdco Plc and the appointment of a new board to handle their affairs.

The new helmsman, Ahmad Abdullahi, who retired as Director of Banking Supervision, CBN in February 2020, is an economist and thorough-bred professional with long years of experience in academia, banking supervision, and financial regulation.

An expert in bank crisis resolution, Abdullahi also serves on the boards of the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Financial Markets Dealers Quotations (FMDQ), Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), and Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

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