Glad Tidings! FirstBank Throws Weight Behind Bayo Adelabu’s Guber Ambition

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Glad Tidings! FirstBank Throws Weight Behind Bayo Adelabu’s Guber Ambition

Glad Tidings! FirstBank Throws Weight Behind Bayo Adelabu’s Guber Ambition
October 26
06:18 2018

By Según Oderinde

Forget its apolitical posturing, Nigeria’s biggest financial services institution, the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, may have tacitly thrown its weight behind Adebayo Adelabu, the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, governorship candidate in Oyo State. Believed to already enjoy strong political backing as the anointed of Governor Abiola Ajimobi, which translated to his smooth victory in the primary elections, Adelabu now enjoys institutional support. And rightly so too.

A First Class accounting graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Adelabu was 39 when he became an Executive Director/Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of First Bank. It was from there, in 2014, that he was appointed Deputy Governor, Operations, at the Central Bank of Nigeria by former President Goodluck Jonathan. He resigned from the CBN to contest for the party’s governorship ticket.

While The Capital could not independently verify the quantum of business the bank currently does with the state, what is irrefutable is that First Bank and Oyo State’s fates seem intertwined. At a point, one of the bank’s biggest customers was the late Ibadan-based billionaire businessman, Alao Arisekola. Conversely, the bank is fighting tooth and nail to recover Ariskeola’s reported indebtedness to the bank valued at over N8billion. That case is currently in court. Arisekola died in June 2014. There are more positives from Oyo State however.

Perhaps only First Bank of Nigeria can lay claim to having had two past chairmen of its board of directors being Oyo State indigenes. The Ibadan-born industrialist, Oba Otudeko, was chairman of the bank’s board of directors until 2010 when he retired. He currently serves as Group Chairman of the bank’s parent company, FBN Holdings Plc, a position he has held since 2012.

While Otudeko is royalty from Ibadan, Adelabu’s grandfather was a strong Ibadan politician and served as Nigeria’s Minister of Natural Resources and Social Services from January 1955 to January 1956. The older Adelabu is remembered for his profound understanding of the English Language which made his illiterate listeners misinterpret his ‘peculiar mess’ statement to ‘penkelemes’. So, between the governorship aspirant and Otudeko, there is the Ibadan root and the professional affinity.

Not forgetting also, Prince Ajibola Afonja, the Oyo Town-born former Minister of Labour under the Interim National Government of Chief Ernest Shonekan, who retired as Chairman of the FBN board in 2013. Now, this is where it gets interesting. Ariskeola was Adelabu’s godfather. And the younger man was very close to the illustrious family.

Inside sources are now claiming that FBN’s support for Adelabu may be hinged on two reasons – to help the Arisekola family in its repayment of its multi-billion naira loan; and perhaps, for solely running the state’s accounts. Either way, Adelabu winning the governorship election proper would be a win-win for the bank and the family.


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