Okonkwo Replaces Retiring Emuwa As Union Bank CEO

The board of Union Bank Nigeria Plc, on Monday announced the retirement on March 31, 2021, of Emeka Emuwa, its chief executive officer, eight years after joining the bank in November 2012.

His emergence on the scene followed a US$500m investment by Union Global Partners, with a mandate to transform and restore one of Nigeria’s oldest institutions back to its rightful position as a respected provider of financial services.

A notice by Somuyiwa Sonubi, the Company Secretary, said the board has appointed Emeka Okonkwo, an Executive Director in charge of the Bank‘s Corporate Banking business, as successor, subject to approval by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The statement quoted Emuwa as saying he “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.”

He expressed appreciation to the board, his executive and senior management teams with which the bank scaled many hurdles and accomplished significant feats, senior management, and indeed every employee “for their integrity, support and hard work that have brought Union Bank to where it is today.”

The bank, he continued, begins a transition into a new era of leadership under Emeka Okonkwo, who he described as “a consummate professional with the right experience and values, I know that Union Bank will continue on its path as a values driven organisation that is deeply committed to our cu-stomers and the communities we serve.”

Before joining the bank, Emuwa had a 25-year career at Citibank, where he held several senior roles in Nigeria and across Africa, becoming the first Nigerian Country Officer and Managing Director of Citibank Nigeria.

On his retirement, Emuwa also exits the board of Union Bank.

Commenting, the board chairman, Beatrice Hamza Bassey, thank the retiring CEO for what she described as “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, she recalled, “has been 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.”

While wishing him the very best, she recalled that among what Emuwa will be remembered for, she believes, is the fact that “amid a tough macroeconomic environment, Union Bank maintained steady operational momentum… which in 2020 culminated in the first dividend payment to investors and shareholders in over ten years.

The board, she stressed, is pleased to have Okonkwo, who has been a key contributor to the achievements of the bank over the past seven years as an Executive Director, as incoming CEO

“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.

The statement described Okonkwo as a seasoned banker with 30 years of experience. He joined Union Bank in 2013 as an Executive Director to lead the Corporate Banking and Treasury business, and was responsible for rebuilding the business and strategically positioning Union Bank for success in the Corporate Banking space during the transformation phase.

Okonkwo began his career at Citibank Nigeria where he rose to Executive Director in charge of Commercial Banking and Global Subsidiaries in 2009, working across various disciplines including Corporate Finance, Credit Risk Management, Marketing, Treasury and Strategic Management in Nigeria and London.

Prior to joining Union Bank, Okonkwo, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; an MSc in Construction Management from the University of Lagos and an MBA from Warwick Business School, UK, was the Head of the Corporate and Investment Banking Division in Citibank Bangladesh.

Photo caption: Emeka Emuwa and Emeka Okonkwo.