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Meet Nigerian women leading top banks as MDs, CEOs



Meet Nigerian women leading top banks as MDs, CEOs
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With the appointment of Adaora Umeoji as the first female Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, the number of women leading Nigerian banks have risen to an historic high.

Nigeria currently has 25 major banks with the number of female bank chief executives  soaring from just one in 2019 to 10 in 2024, representing 36 per cent of Nigerian major banks’ chief executive officers.

Umeoji whose appointment was announced on Tuesday will succeed Ebenezer Onyeagwu, the current GMD/CEO whose 5-year tenure will elapse on May 31.

Before the announcement, two other females such as Yetunde Oni was appointed as the managing director/CEO of Union Bank of Nigeria in January. And last month, Bolaji Agbede was appointed as acting group CEO of Access Holdings after the death of Herbert Wigwe.

Many other women have paved the way for Umeoji in the banking sector, leading her to be recognised as the 10th female MD in Nigeria’s banking history.

Miriam Olusanya made history as the first female Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank).

READ ALSO: Zenith bank leads as NGX Banking index showcases remarkable growth

With a background in Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan and an MBA focusing on finance and accounting from the University of Liverpool, she brings 26 years of banking experience and a reputation for strong leadership and financial inclusion advocacy.

Miriam was announced as GTBank’s MD in July 2021, and still holds the position to this day.

Yemisi Edun achieved a similar milestone as the first female MD/CEO of First City Monument Bank (FCMB). Armed with a chemistry degree from the University of Ife and a master’s in international accounting and finance from the University of Liverpool, she excels in risk management and corporate governance, contributing to FCMB’s growth and diversification.

Yemisi Edun has been the MD of FCMB since July 2021.

Halima Buba, MD/CEO of SunTrust Bank, stands out with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Maiduguri and an MBA from the same institution. She champions entrepreneurship and small business development through initiatives like ‘SME Flash’, recognizing their vital role in Nigeria’s economic progress.


Halima has been serving as SunTrust’s MD since January 2021 after serving as the deputy general manager in Ecobank.

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu leads Citibank Nigeria as its first female MD/CEO, bringing a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University and an MBA from the University of Bradford. With a background in international banking, she focuses on innovative financial solutions and technological advancements for enhanced customer experiences.

Ireti took on the role of Citibank Nigeria MD in September 2020.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe took the helm of Fidelity Bank, becoming its first female MD/CEO since its inception in 1988. Armed with degrees in Law and extensive experience, she spearheads Fidelity Bank’s digital transformation, aiming to make financial services accessible to all Nigerians.

Onyeali-Ikpe was announced as Fidelity Bank’s MD in December 2020, and she assumed her role in January 2021, and is still serving in this role.

Tomi Somefun leads Unity Bank with expertise gained from Harvard Business School and Columbia University, complementing her degree in English Language from Obafemi Awolowo University. She prioritizes rural banking and financial literacy, aiming to empower underserved communities across Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Fidelity Bank restricts transfers to Opay, Palmpay, others

Somefun was confirmed by CBN as Unity Bank’s MD August 2015 and has served in the role ever since.

Kafilat Araoye, MD of Lotus Bank, brings over 30 years of banking experience, advocating for ethical banking practices and community investment. With a degree in History and an M.Sc. in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management, she focuses on sustainable financial initiatives.

Kafilat is the pioneer MD/CEO of Lotus Bank which was registered in May 2021.

Bukola Smith heads FSDH Merchant Bank, leveraging her B.Sc. in Economics and an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School. Her expertise in investment banking fosters FSDH’s growth, while her mentorship supports aspiring female leaders in the finance sector.

She became the MD of FSDH Merchant Bank in April 2021 and still serves in this capacity.

Yetunde Bolanle Oni recently assumed the role of MD/CEO of Union Bank in January 2024, marking a significant milestone in the bank’s leadership. With degrees in Economics and Business Administration, including executive training at Oxford University, her appointment is poised to shape Union Bank’s strategic direction.


The rise of female Managing Directors in Nigerian banks underscores the growing recognition of women’s potential and contribution to the country’s economic development.

 It reflects a progressive shift towards gender equality and inclusivity in corporate governance, signalling a departure from traditional patriarchal structures towards a more equitable and diverse leadership paradigm.