By Charles Abuede
After eight years leading one of Nigeria’s truly old generation banks, Union Bank, Emeka Emuwa, will be retiring as managing director, the board of the bank announced on Monday.
The board has also appointed Emeka Okonkwo, executive director in charge of corporate banking, to replace Emuwa when he leaves at the end of March 2021.
In a regulatory disclosure statement to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the bank said Emuwa, who was also the first Nigerian country officer and managing director of Citibank Nigeria, communicated to its board his decision to retire from the bank and his role as chief executive officer on March 31, 2021.
Emuwa had joined the bank in November 2012 after a $500 million acquisition investment by Union Global Partners, and was given a mandate to and restore one of Nigeria’s oldest financial institutions back to its rightful position as a respected provider of financial services, the bank said in the statement to the NSE.
Emuwa is quoted in the statement as saying that he enjoyed the challenge of leading the bank and described it as one of the richest experiences in his 30 years in banking.
“I have enjoyed the significant challenge of leading Union Bank over the last eight years. I am extremely proud of the management team and what we have been able to accomplish during my time as CEO. Today, we have a strong bank that is well-positioned to compete and deliver on its vision to be ‘Nigeria’s most trusted and reliable partner.’ With a clear strategic direction, a growing and loyal customer base and a strong brand, this is now the natural time for the next generation of leadership to take Union Bank forward and deliver further value.
“In over three decades of banking, my time at Union Bank has been one of the richest experiences in a long and fulfilling career with a treasure of work and life lessons to carry into the future. Together as a team, we scaled many hurdles and accomplished significant feats and I would like to thank my Executive team, senior management and every one of our employees for their integrity, support and hard work that has brought Union Bank to where it is today.
“I would also like to thank the board for the opportunity to lead this storied institution that has impacted generations of Nigerians for over a century and for supporting our efforts and vision during my tenure.
“As we begin the transition into a new era of leadership under Emeka Okonkwo, a consummate professional with the right experience and values, I know that Union Bank will continue on its path as a value-driven organisation that is deeply committed to our customers and the communities we serve,” Emuwa said.
Beatrice Hamza Bassey, the chair of the board, who spoke on the retirement and appointment of a new CEO, said Emuwa will also step down from the board of Union Bank.
“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Emeka Emuwa for leading Union Bank during the last eight years. His exceptional contribution to the transformation of the business produced excellent results and set a solid platform for growth. The focus over the last eight years on technology transformation, digital innovation, and development of diverse markets for our world-class range of products has seen Union Bank well-positioned to continue growing from its current position as a market disruptor.
“Amid a tough macroeconomic environment, Union Bank maintained steady operational momentum under Emeka’s leadership which in 2020 culminated in the first dividend payment to investors and shareholders in over ten years. His many significant achievements, including providing steady stewardship during the unprecedented challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, lays a solid springboard for the future. We wish him the very best and are grateful for his support and commitment to ensure a successful transition over the next few months,” Bassey said.
She also welcomed the Okonkwo, the incoming CEO.
“Having been a key contributor to the achievements of the bank over the past seven years as an executive director, Emeka Okonkwo is well suited to lead Union Bank’s next phase of growth. The board and I look forward to working with him to execute our strategy and deliver value to all stakeholders in the years ahead,” she said.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Emeka Okonkwo, a seasoned banker with 30 years of experience is subject to the approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria while his appointment will be effective from 31 March 2021.