How Tokunbo Abiru transformed the fortunes of Skye Bank

Tokunbo Abiru [Photo Credit: The Eagle Online]

“Leadership is not just some empty formulas but establishing deep connection at soul levels through service, integrity, passion, perseverance and equanimity,” ― Amit Ray.

For those who want to make a difference, the first step out of the gate is knowing where you want to end up. Knowing the destination and height you want to take your organisation to.

For Tokunbo Abiru, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Skye Bank Nigeria, service, passion, perseverance and equanimity best describe him.

Since joining Skye Bank in 2016, Mr. Abiru’s ingenuity, leadership style has helped in changing the fortune of the bank in just a period of one year. Within a short period at the helms of affair at Skye Bank, Mr. Abiru has championed series of transformative business initiatives geared towards repositioning as well boosting the fortunes of Skye Bank to the admiration of both the customers and shareholders.

Described as the man with the ‘midas touch,’ within a period of one year, Mr. Abiru’s dexterity has helped in stabilising and restoring the confidence of the Skye Bank brand among stakeholders

Mr. Abiru has successfully implemented cost management initiatives which has enhanced liquidity and efficient service delivery to Skye bank customers.

Through his aggressive recovery initiatives, the bank has been able to recover over N60 billion of outstanding bad loans within one year of mounting the saddle.

Under his watch, the bank has been able to reach settlement and restructuring agreements with many of the chronic bad debtors resulting in substantially improved payments and prospects of future recoveries.

In line with the bank’s broad mandate which includes cost management and optimisation, as well as divestments to improve the institution’s financial position, Tokunbo Abiru has embarked on several initiatives aimed at restructuring and repositioning the bank.

Some of the initiatives embarked by Mr. Abiru in the past one year include: branch rationalisation, review of service contracts and cash management operations which have resulted in hundreds of millions of financial savings. Also, through some of the initiatives, the bank has successfully settled many matured trade and bilateral obligations and restructured outstanding balances with the relevant institutions and counterparties.

Under Mr. Abiru’s watch, the bank has divested from four local subsidiaries releasing total cash value of N6.2 billion.

Tokunbo Abiru is also known for his no-nonsense approach to service delivery which keeps members of staff on their toes always, but doesn’t hesitate in wielding the big stick when necessary in order to achieve the desired growth goals of the brand, while rewarding outstanding members of staff.

As a man of integrity and strong values, Skye Bank Plc. under Mr. Abiru’s leadership, emerged “The Most Committed Watch Listing Bank in Nigeria” out of four corporate awards that were up for grabs at the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) Annual Dinner and Awards which held in Lagos recently. The other NeFF awards won by the bank are: the best fraud desk personality of the year; the responsive fraud desk and the overall best fraud desk.

Skye Bank, a Systematically Important Bank (SIB), with strong market share and relative interconnectedness, occupies a sensitive role in the financial industry in Nigeria and West Africa. For the customers and shareholders of Skye Bank, they should look at future with great hope as Mr. Abiru and his team are working tirelessly in making sure that Skye Bank ranks amongst the Top 3 financial institutions in Nigeria

Mr. Abiru is an alumnus of Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School. He holds a B.Sc. (Economics) from Lagos State University and is a Fellow of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, as well as an Honorary Senior Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Mr. Abiru is a financial guru extraordinaire has had a distinguished career in banking spanning about 26 years, and has held positions in both Nigeria’s public and private sectors.

Tokunbo Abiru was, in 2016, appointed the Group MD/CEO of Skye Bank, after the Central Bank of Nigeria approved the reconstitution of the bank’s board. A banker who has over 20 years of experience in the banking industry, Mr. Abiru started his career at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), where he worked for 10 years. He then spent 14 years working at First Bank of Nigeria Limited, and at various times there was the relationship Team Leader, Retail Banking; Business Development Manager, Lagos (Ikeja1); and Group Head, Corporate Banking.

In 2011, Mr. Abiru was appointed the Commissioner of Finance for Lagos State under then governor, Babatunde Fashola. In 2013, he resigned to take up a position as the Executive Director, Corporate Banking of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. Mr. Abiru served in this capacity until his retirement in 2016. While at First Bank, Mr. Abiru also served as a Non-Executive director in Airtel Mobile Networks Limited; FBN Capital Limited (now FBN Merchant Bank Limited); and FBN Bank Sierra Leone Limited.

While serving as the Commissioner for Finance in Lagos State, it is to Tokunbo Abiru’s credit that the state successfully floated an N80 billion bond, earning it the EMEA Finance’s Best Local Currency Bond Award for 2012. Under his leadership, Mr. Abiru made the state’s tax efforts yield maximum results; and the discovery of over 5.5 million tax evaders in 2013 opened up the discussion regarding taxation in Lagos State. Mr. Abiru’s efforts also led to increased Land Use Charge revenue generations to the tune of N6.2 billion.

Tokunbo Abiru is also a member of the Lagos HOMs Committee, which is in charge of the Lagos State Home Ownership Mortgage Scheme, HOMS, instituted to reduce the housing deficit in the state.

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