By Osaze Omoragbon
Over 10 years after he left as minister of state for Finance, Mr Remi Babalola is back to head the board of the bank where he left as Executive Director to become a member of cabinet in the Yar’ Adua administration. Babalola’s appointment was announced yesterday by the CBN governor, Goodwin Emefiele at a press conference where he read out the decision of the apex bank to sack the board of FBN holdings and First Bank Nigeria Plc respectively and constituted a new board which has Babalola as Chairman of the parent company of First Bank.
Since leaving public service, Babalola has led a quiet life as he has not frequented the glamorous circuit of bankers and financiers. Prior to his appointment to FBN Holdings board, he was Chairman and strategist of Alternative Capital Partners, a SEC registered investment firm based in Lagos among other board membership positions he has held. Babalola is considered by many to be a consummate professional with key competencies in capital raising, credit analysis, mergers and acquisitions, alternative investment, auditing and strategy, a skillset analysts say is in dire need at First Bank given its poor credit portfolio.
Observers have praised his appointment to head the board of FBN holdings as a wise decision given that he was once a member of the board of the bank. “Remi was once a member of the board of First Bank and he literally knows where the bodies are buried” says a veteran, Financial analyst, who craves anonymity. Bablola, according to one banker, is a straight shooter, who doesn’t mince words citing the controversial circumstances that led to his exit from the Yar’ adua cabinet. “Babalola told us repeatedly over 10 years ago that the NNPC was broke and he was sent packing from the government. Fortunately for him, he has been proven right again and again” he says. Many are hoping that the new boards which have experienced Nigerians will use their wealth of knowledge to turn around the fortunes of First Bank, which is considered a cornerstone of Nigeria’s financial system.