• Saturday, May 25, 2024
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UPDATED: How Adeduntan suddenly resigned as First Bank CEO from Washington after EGM is canceled

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More facts have emerged about the circumstances surrounding the sudden departure of Sola Adeduntan, the once powerful Managing Director and CEO of Nigeria’s oldest bank, First Bank who was still attending the on-going World Bank/IMF spring meetings in Washington at the time the news broke in Lagos.

BusinessDay reporters understand that the former CEO suddenly notified the board of his intention to leave with effect from today April 20, eight full months to the expiration of the controversial third term of three years which he won under an unusual reprieve by former CBN governor Godwin Emefiele.

According to one inside source, “there are several moving parts in the unfolding drama. There is the matter of an unresolved issue flagged by the regulator years ago and how this has not been fully resolved to the satisfaction of the apex bank and there is also the issue of mismanagement of relationships and added to this is the question of ego.”

One source said following the questions raised by the central bank, the initial target had been the entire board of the bank itself and there is a suggestion the apex bank dialed back once it realized that the current board of the bank was appointed by the CBN itself.
Adeduntan’s departure is swallowed up in the intrigue that followed the shocking cancellation of the extraordinary general meeting of the financial institution planned for April 30, 2024 to approve plans for a capital raise.

Before this sudden resignation there had been expectation that Adeduntan will take up the position of Managing Director at the HoldCo level but it is unclear if this plan was abandoned because the regulator withheld its approval of the request from the bank.

There is what is called a two-year “cooling off period” imposed by the regulator between directorship tenures in banks in Nigeria and this may have counted against the plot for Adeduntan to move up.

A meeting of some of the core directors of the bank held on Friday but BusinessDay learnt that this was not a full board meeting.
On April 28, 2021 former directors at a board meeting of the bank had voted for Adeduntan to be retired as his second term was to expire but he regained his position after the board was sacked CBN Governor Emefiele.

It is unclear why the bank CEO is leaving now but First Bank has had a policy by which Managing Directors of the bank were allowed only two terms of three years each. Adeduntan would have been the first CEO to last three full terms on the job.

“As you are aware, my contract would be expiring on 31 December 2024 after which I would no longer be eligible for employment within the Bank having served as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank for a record time of nine years,” Adeduntan said in his letter resigning.

According to the letter, “during this period the Bank and its subsidiaries has undergone significant changes and broken new grounds. We have repositioned the institution as an enviable financial giant in Africa. “I have however decided to proceed on retirement with effect from 20 April 2024 to pursue other interests.”

Furthermore, he expressed gratitude towards the board of directors of First Bank and FBN Holdings for the support he received from them during his tenure.

Adeduntan was appointed as CEO of First Bank in 2016. Prior to his appointment, he served as the bank’s executive director and chief financial officer (CFO). Before joining First Bank in July 2014, he was a director and the pioneer CFO/business manager of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC). Adeduntan formerly worked as a senior vice-president and CFO at Citibank Nigeria Limited, as a senior manager in the financial services group of KPMG Professional Services, and as a manager at Arthur Andersen Nigeria.