Polaris Bank Appoints Babangida's Inlaw Ahmad Chairman

Following the sale of the Polaris Bank to a new core investor, Strategic Capital Investment Limited (SCIL) by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) at the weekend, analysts have listed their expectations of the bank post-acquisition.

This is critical concerns have been raised about the relatively unknown antecedents of the new owner, Auwal Lawal, is the in-law to the former Nigerian military ruler, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd).

While applauding the apex bank for the sale, the experts expect the new owner to continue from where the AMCON-led management ended their turn-around of the bank to ensure that it become a strong force in the banking industry.

Stating that the purchase of the bank for N50 billion instead of N25 billion required of a fresh banking license, has shown that, CBN did a good job in finding a valuable buyer for the financial institution, they urged, the banking regulatory body to keep monitoring the activities of the bank under the new owner and step in if being mismanaged by the new owner.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP yesterday, a renowned Economist, Prof. Tayo Bello of Adeleke University, Osun State, said, CBN is the custodian of banks, and cannot hold the bridge bank for life, hence, had to sell, when the right buyer came for it.

To him, ” CBN is the custodian of banks. They cannot hold the bridge bank for life, hence, when they stabilise the bank, they will sell which is what the CBN did in Polaris Bank. People should not raise too much concern about its over N1trillion debt as CBN has been magnanimous enough to give moratorium of 25 years to repay the debt.”

He stressed that, its better to sell the bank rather than allow the bank to go under, which could distabilise the banking system. “So, its a right step in the right order. Then, we should not also forget that though, the investor purchased the bank for N50 billion, its assets far outweigh the amount paid, hence, there are alternative to settle some of the debt,” he pointed out.

Urging stakeholders to give the new management some time to reposition the bank, he believes, with the M.K Ahmed, who was in the previous  management and now chairing the new management, there is going to be a continuation in the direction in which the bank goes to stamp his footprint on the sand of time in the banking industry.

“The new management has a greater role to play in the future of the bank, hence, CBN should still be there to give close monitoring to the bank to ensure that, the bank, under the new management, do not derail from its initial purpose, mission and responsibilities,” he emphasised.

Earlier, a business analyst, Chika Mbonu who spoke on Arise TV, commended the management of the bank for leading a successful transition while urging the core investors (SCIL) to take the financial institution to the next level.

To him, “there was quite a protest over a rumour that the bank was sold for a paltry amount. However, we are happy that the CBN is now out to announce the name of the investors that won the bid, N50billion purchase consideration in addition to the N1.3 trillion that the CBN puts in to resuscitate the bank, which the core investors will take over that loan and pay it back. It is a better deal than other project handled by AMCON and NDIC.”

An Independent analyst, Ola Aina, had said, this divestment has been long overdue and it could only get better now that new owners have taken over 100 per cen, hence, looking forward to a new board and management unveiled to see their growth plan.

Meanwhile, the new owner, Auwal Lawal, is the in-law to the former Nigerian military ruler, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd). He is married to Halima, the second daughter and last child of the former Nigerian military head of state.

Lawal is a Nigerian businessman, entrepreneur and a philanthropist, who holds the traditional chieftain title of “Sarkin Sudan of Gombe.’

He is also the Chairman and CEO of Nice Corporate Services Limited registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission(CAC), Nigeria since 2004, a  company that deals in real estate development, commodities trading, and supply of agricultural machinery and fertilizer.

In the same vein, the new owner announced a new board  that is expected to take the bank to a new height, grow its shareholders’ base and improve the its profitability.

The new board will be led by the existing chairman, M.K Ahmad, who will be joined will be joined on the board by 6 non-executive directors and 3 executive directors. They are to bring extensive experience in the banking and wider financial services sector in Nigeria and internationally, as well as expertise in corporate governance, human resource management, law and regulation to manage the operation of the bank.

The incoming board are: Alhaji MK Ahmad as chairman; Mr Abubakar Danlami Suleiman as non-executive director; Ms Salma Mohammed, a non-executive director; Mr Adeleke Alex Adedipe as non-executive director; Mr Ahmed Almustapha, a non-executive director; Mr Francesco Cuzzocrea, another non-executive director; Mrs Olabisi Olubunmi Odunowo as non-executive director; Mr Adekunle Sonola, an executive director who will also become the managing director/CEO; Mr Abdullahi S Mohammed, an executive director and Mr Segun Opeke as an executive director.

Commenting on the acquisition and board transition, chairman of Polaris Bank, Alhaji M K Ahmad thanked the outgoing board members profusely for their hard work and dedication over the last four years, saying, the bank has established a strong governance structure and stabilised the financial institution.

While feeling proud to have been asked to lead the bank into an exciting new future, he looked forward to working with the new board and core investors to build on the platform the old management  has created.

Speaking on behalf of SCIL, the new core investor, Adekunle Sonola who is the incoming MD/CEO said, he is excited to participate in the next phase of growth for Polaris Bank and to have been able to recruit such an experienced and diverse board of directors that can lead the bank into a new era of sustainable growth.

To him, “we have mandated the incoming management to develop an innovative, but sustainable growth strategy that prioritises the needs and aspirations of our current customers.”


Chris Kehinde Nwandu is the Editor In Chief of CKNNEWS || He is a Law graduate and an Alumnus of Lagos State University, Lead City University Ibadan and Nigerian Institute Of Journalism || With over 2 decades practice in Journalism, PR and Advertising, he is a member of several Professional bodies within and outside Nigeria || Member: Institute Of Chartered Arbitrators ( UK ) || Member : Institute of Chartered Mediators And Conciliation || Member : Nigerian Institute Of Public Relations || Member : Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria || Fellow : Institute of Personality Development And Customer Relationship Management || Member and Chairman Board Of Trustees: Guild Of Professional Bloggers of Nigeria

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