Unveiling Godwin Emefiele, The New CBN Governor

Godwin emefiele MD ZenithConsummate banker and very quiet worker who would rather prefer his results speak for him than make all the noise, Godwin Emefiele, until recently the Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc is President Jonathan’s nominee as replacement for Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

A dark horse whose name was never at any point bandied around as an interested successor to the CBN governor, Emefiele, who will now preside over the turbulent Nigerian banking industry, took Zenith Bank to another height last year when he became the first GMD/CEO in the banking industry to achieve N100 billion after tax profit in a financial year. He is an astute manager of people and resources and a corporate governance savvy professional banker who has earned several personal and corporate endorsements and achievements.

His lofty achievements at Zenith Bank plc since he took over from the iconic Jim Ovia marked him out as an accomplished banker and erudite manager of human and material resources. A system’s person and very quiet achiever, Emefiele knows and understands banking and the unique Nigerian economy like the palms of his hands. His capacity for leadership and eye for growth opportunities is evident in Zenith’s performance and geometric progression.

Under his watch, Zenith Bank was rated as the “Best Bank in Nigeria in 2012” by BusinessDay Newspapers following a survey of all the banks in Nigeria. Zenith Bank also won ‘Bank of the Year Nigeria 2013’ by The Banker Magazine, a publication of Financial Times of London. Nominees for The Banker award were judged by their ability to deliver shareholder returns and gain strategic advantage in terms of market visibility and positioning. According to The Banker Magazine, Zenith Bank was selected based on the overall performance of the institution and the opinion of leading financial analysts from the world’s financial markets. The award also indicates the level of trust and confidence on the brand and is a testament to the strong management, sound business model and prudent risk approach of Zenith Bank plc.

Zenith Bank has greatly impacted banking in Nigeria, literally lifting the sector from the era of over-conservatism to one of healthy conflict and dynamism, characterised by a culture of excellence and global best practices. This has been achieved through a combination of the power of vision and a skilful union of banking expertise and cutting-edge technology to create products and services that meet and anticipate customers’ expectations.

Under his leadership, Zenith Bank has grown its Agric loan portfolio ranking amongst the highest contributors in growing the industry agric portfolio from 1 per cent in 2010 to over 4 per cent in 2012. The bank also took active part in financing some of the power projects that changed hands from government to the private sector investors. With this in mind, Zenith Bank’s contributions to Nigeria’s macroeconomic growth are seen to be very commendable.

The bank is adjudged to be of incredibly high standard not just on a national level but an international one. Testimony to Emefiele’s leadership qualities is a succession of excellent ratings from local and international agencies. Zenith bank ranks amongst the world’s 500 valuable brands. Brand Finance plc ranked Zenith Bank as the 11th most valuable brand in Africa.

To Emefiele’s credit, Zenith Bank shares currently trade on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) following a listing of the $850 million worth of its shares at $6.80 each in a major step aimed at improving liquidity in the stock through Global Depository Receipts.

Impressive performance parameters such as these are an eloquent indication of Emefiele’s rare penchant for banking and unflinching ability to mitigate existing inefficiencies that often exist in business.

These and many more are some of the sterling qualities that Emefiele will bring to bear on the banking sector and Nigeria’s economy.

Emefiele is a University of Nigeria, Nsukka-trained astute banker and also a Harvard University-trained financial strategist. He graduated as the best MBA student (Finance) from UNN after obtaining a Second Class Upper degree in Banking and Finance in 1984.

He went on to deepen his knowledge of Macroeconomics at Oxford University having obtained various qualifications and Executive Education studies in Negotiation, Strategy, Leadership, Critical Thinking, Delivering Value/Profit from Harvard University, Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Business School).

Before he came into banking he was a don at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and the University of Port Harcourt, where he lectured in finance, bank management and insurance. He is a banker whose years of experience are backed by sound academic knowledge of the job he is engaged in. He is a dyed-in-the-wool banker, very steadfast at what he does and has remained strong in the Zenith tradition of producing results. And those results have been manifested in the laurels and recognition that the bank has received both locally and internationally.

Currently, Zenith is the largest bank in Nigeria and the seventh largest in Africa by tier-1 capital. Forbes & CNBC Africa ranks Zenith bank as the 3rd biggest company in West Africa. Capital Finance International (CFI) adjudged the bank the ‘Best Commercial Bank in Africa’.

World Finance voted the bank as the best Nigerian Bank in Corporate Governance in 2013. The Corporate Governance award is in recognition of the bank’s ability to set an industry-wide example of best practices in Corporate Governance. The bank was evaluated on a wide range of criteria that included quality of policies and procedures, quality of disclosures, elements of innovation in Corporate Governance practices and excellence in stakeholder relationship management. In 2013, Zenith Bank was recognised as one the 20 Global super brands and KPMG rated the bank as the ‘Best Customer-Focused Bank’.

“Under Emefiele’s leadership, Zenith Bank has strengthened its position as a leading financial institution in Africa, winning recognition and getting endorsement at home and abroad for giant strides in key performance areas like corporate governance, service delivery and deployment of cutting-edge ICT as well as impact in the bank’s numerous spheres of operations.

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