45% of Banks’ CEOs Now Women


Fidelity, Unity, Access, Zenith, GTbank, Citibank others Headed by female   


Nigeria’s banking industry keeps experiencing a groundbreaking shift, and at the forefront are 11 inspiring women leading the charge. With 11 banks now proudly guided by female CEOs, Nigeria stands as a beacon of gender diversity in the African financial world.

Despite facing disruptions from financial technology companies and navigating through Central Bank of Nigeria regulations alongside macroeconomic challenges, these financial institutions have demonstrated resilience, maintaining their market capitalization, revenue growth, and transaction volumes.

Traditionally, the banking sector has thrived in environments characterized by inflation and interest rate hikes.

Tier-1 banks have particularly stood out during this period, with many boasting market capitalizations exceeding N1 trillion.

 However, there has been a noticeable shift in leadership dynamics, with powerful female executives taking the helm as Managing Directors and CEOs of both banks and Bank HoldCos. This trend reflects the industry’s recognition of female leadership prowess and the importance of diversity in driving organizational success.

With recent appointments reshaping the landscape of the banking sector, let’s take a closer look at the top female MD/CEOs leading banks and Bank HoldCos in Nigeria in 2024.

11.  Kafilat Araoye- Managing Director Lotus Bank

Kafilat Araoye is the Managing Director of Lotus Bank, a position she took on in 2018. With over 25 years in banking, she has expertise in virtually all areas of core banking.Her educational journey includes a history Degree from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (1985), and an M.Sc. in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from the University of Lagos (1987.

 Araoye started out in 1988 at National Oil and Chemicals Marketing Company Plc (now Conoil Nigeria Plc), and moved in 1990 to Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, as the pioneer head of Human Resources. 

During her time there she was part of the GTBank team that went to Jordan for the implementation of its core banking application amongst other critical assignments executed for the Bank. She made her exit in 2015 as General Manager but continued to consult for banks and other sectors through her consulting outfit until 2018 when she was appointed as the MD Designate for LOTUS Bank then in formation.

10.   Halima Buba- CEO/MD Suntrust Bank

Halima currently serves as the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of SunTrust Bank Nigeria Limited, bringing with her over 22 years of experience in the banking sector. 

Before her appointment as MD/CEO of Sun Trust Bank Ltd, Halima co-founded and served as an Executive Director of Taj Consortium, a group of young technocrats and financial advisory experts. 

Additionally, she serves on the boards of various reputable institutions, including Anchoria Asset Management Company Limited as a Non-Executive Director and as the 

Chairman of the Board of Directors for NSIA Umuahia Diagnosis Centre (NUDC).

Her extensive career spans various reputable institutions including Allstates Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Inland Bank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, and Ecobank Nigeria Limited. 

Halima holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Business Management from the University of Maiduguri, complemented by an MBA from the same university. She is also an Alumnus of the Lagos Business School Senior Management Programme.

9. Yetunde Oni – Managing Director of Union Bank

Yetunde B. Oni currently serves as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Union Bank, assuming the role in January 2024 following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s dissolution of the Board and Management of three prominent banks: Union Bank, Keystone Bank, and Polaris Bank. 

With over 30 years of experience, Yetunde is a highly accomplished financial services leader who has held senior positions in both international and local banks, with a focus on emerging markets.

Before her appointment at Union Bank, Yetunde was at Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria Limited, where she served as the pioneer head of commercial clients in September 2014. 

She later advanced to become the Managing Director & Country Head of Commercial Banking in West Africa in 2017. 

During her tenure, Yetunde developed and executed comprehensive business growth strategies, managed key relationships, and ensured compliance with group credit policy and local underwriting standards.

8. Bukola Smith- Managing Director/CEO FSDH 

Bukola Smith is the Managing Director and CEO of First Securities Discount House Limited, assuming her position in 2021. With 29 years of progressive experience in the banking industry, Smith has established herself as a strategic leader with a proven track record of execution.

Before her Managing Director role, Smith held the position of Executive Director of Business Development at First City Monument Bank (FCMB), where she oversaw various divisions including Public Sector, Business Banking, Agriculture, and Transaction Banking. Under her leadership, FCMB’s SME-focused team rose from 5th to 1st position in the industry within three years.

Smith holds an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, U.K, and a B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Lagos.

 She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), an Honorary Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, and an Associate Member of the Certified Institute of Pensions (Nigeria).

7. Tomi Somefun- Managing Director/CEO of Unity Bank

Tomi Somefun is the Managing Director/CEO of Unity Bank Plc. Before her appointment in August 2015, she served as the Executive Director overseeing the Lagos and South-West Business Directorates, the Financial Institution Division and the Treasury Department of the Bank. 

She is a Member of the Board Finance and General Purpose Committee, Board Risk Management Committee, and Board Credit Committee, amongst others. She is a career professional with 35 years post qualification experience, spanning key segments including Treasury, Investment Banking, Corporate Banking, Retail, and Commercial Banking Operations

Tomi had a distinguished career with the UBA group where she led 2 major subsidiaries of UBA as MD/CEO including a start-up company, UBA Pensions Custodian where she was the pioneer Managing Director. 

Before UBA, Tomi worked with two leading consulting firms, KPMG and Arthur Andersen. 

She graduated with a Second-Class Upper degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife) in 1981 with a Bachelor of Education in English Language. 

6.  Ireti Samuel-Ogbu- MD/CEO for Citibank Nigeria

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu assumed the role of MD/CEO for Citibank Nigeria Limited in September 2020, becoming the first female CEO of the bank. Her journey with Citibank spans various countries and roles, including Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Nigeria, and South Africa.  

She holds a BA Hons in Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University, UK, and an MBA from the University of Bradford, UK.

Before her appointment, she served as the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Head, Payments and Receivables, Treasury and Trade Solutions (TTS) at Citi’s Institutional Clients Group (ICG) in London, UK. Samuel-Ogbu has also been a non-executive Director on the Board of Citibank Nigeria Limited for five years.

Throughout her career, Samuel-Ogbu has championed diversity and inclusion initiatives at Citi, co-founding mentorship programs like the Sapphire Leadership Program for Middle East and Africa, and the Momentum Program in the UK. 

5. Yemisi Edun- Managing Director of FCMB

Yemisi Edun was appointed Managing Director of the First City Monument Bank following CBN approval on May 1, 2021. 

She began her career with Akintola Williams Deloitte (member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu) in 1987 with a focus on corporate finance activities as well as audits of banks and other financial institutions. 

She joined FCMB in 2000 as Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control before becoming Chief Financial Officer of the Bank.

Edun holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife and a master’s degree in international accounting and finance from the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom. 

She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). She is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers an Associate Member of the Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, a Member of Information Systems Audit and Control, U.S.A. and a Certified Information Systems Auditor.

4.  Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe-Managing Director of Fidelity Bank

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe assumed the role of Managing Director/CEO at Fidelity Bank on January 1, 2021. 

With three decades of experience across prominent banks like Standard Chartered Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, she excelled in various roles spanning Legal, Treasury, Investment Banking, and Corporate Banking. Onyeali-Ikpe holds LLB and LLM degrees and has attended executive programs at renowned institutions worldwide.

Over the past years, she participated in Fidelity Bank’s transformation, previously serving as Executive Director for the Lagos and Southwest region. Under her leadership, the region saw remarkable growth, contributing over 28% to the Bank’s Profit Before Tax (PBT), Deposits, and Loans. 

 She is recognized as an Honorary Senior Member of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

3. Adaora Umeoji- Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank

Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji

Adaora Umeji was appointed as Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank effective from June 1, 2024, pending approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). 

She succeeded Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, marking the first female GMD/CEO in the bank’s history. Umeji holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Sociology and Accounting, and First-Class honors in Law from Baze University, Abuja. 

Additionally, she earned a Master of Laws from the University of Salford, UK, an MBA from the University of Calabar, and a doctorate in business administration from Apollos University, USA. 

With nearly 30 years of banking experience, including 26 years at Zenith Bank, Umeji has attended management programs at Harvard Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Columbia Business School. 

Recognized for her contributions, she was honored with the Officer of the Order of the Niger by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2022 and serves as a Peace Advocate for the United Nations.

2. Olusanya Miriam- Managing Director of GTBank 

Miriam Olusanya serves as the Managing Director of Guaranty Trust Bank (Nigeria) Limited, a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCO). 

With over 25 years in banking, she began her career at the bank as an Executive Trainee in 1998 and has since held various roles in Asset and Liability Management, Financial Markets, Corporate Finance, and more. 

She holds a Bachelor of Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan and an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the University of Liverpool, UK. Miriam has participated in executive management and banking programs worldwide.

 Before becoming MD, she was an Executive Director, overseeing the bank’s Asset & Liability Management and Financial Markets dealings.  She is a member of the Financial Markets Sub-Committee of the Bankers’ Committee, a key policy platform comprising the CBN and banks.

1. Bolaji Agbede-CEO of Access Holdings  

Bolaji Agbede is a seasoned professional with over 27 years of experience in Human Resources management, customer relationship management, and banking operations. She has a track record of successfully managing people through mergers and acquisitions, leading culture transformations, and executing corporate strategies.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and Statistics from the University of Lagos (1990) and an MBA from Cranfield University (2002). 

She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management UK and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria. Starting her career at Guaranty Trust Bank, she held roles such as Relationship Manager and Vault Custodian before quickly rising to Manager by 2001.

Joining Access Bank in 2003 as an Assistant General Manager, she managed the bank’s portfolio of chemical trading companies. Since 2010, she has served as the Head of HR for the Access Bank Group, overseeing human capital development. Her appointment follows the unfortunate death of Herbert Wigwe, the former Group CEO of Access Holdings Plc