Women On The Rise: Eight Female MDs Leading Nigerian Banks

In what many observers have described as a paradigm shift, the Nigerian banking sector is currently seeing a surge in the number of women at its top echelon. Presently, seven women serve as Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)/Managing Directors (MDs) of the country’s leading banks.

Many believe the surge in the number of women taking up top positions in the banking industry will accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.


In what many observers have described as a paradigm shift, the Nigerian banking sector is currently seeing a surge in the number of women at its top echelon. Presently, eight women serve as Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)/Managing Directors (MDs) of the country’s leading banks.

Last week, Miriam Olusanya became the latest in the list of women shattering the proverbial glass ceiling when she emerged as the first female MD/CEO of Guaranty Trust (GTB) since the institution’s establishment in 1990.

The development is a radical move in a sector aiming to meet up with the Nigerian Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP) specifically in gender diversity and inclusiveness at the top management levels. The policy, introduced in 2012, seeks 40 percent women representation at the upper tier of the banking industry.

With seven women landing the topmost job in 23 of the country’s leading banks – four of them appointed in 2021 – this represents a massive boost to the actualization of the United Nations  Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Women On The Move

Meet the eight female MDs/CEOs making waves in Nigerian banks:

Miriam Olusanya (GTbank)

Miriam Olusanya. Photo: LinkedIn/Miriam Olusanya.


Her appointment earned her the accolade as the first female MD of the financial institution in its 31-year history. She succeeds Segun Agbaje.

Olusanya – who before her new position worked as an executive director at the bank – obtained her first degree in pharmacy from the University of Ibadan before she bagged a Master of Business Administration (MBA), from the University of Liverpool. She teamed up with GTbank as an executive trainee in 1998.

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe (Fidelity Bank)

Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe. Photo: Fidelity Bank


Another first! Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe was named the leader of Fidelity Bank on the first day of this year. This is the only time a woman has risen to the MD/CEO post since the organization started operation in 1988.

Nneka is a graduate of the University of Nigeria (UNN) where she earned a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree. Since joining the bank in 2015, she has attended several executive training in many globally acclaimed business schools.

The new MD also has a master of laws (LLM) degree from Kings College, London.

Tomi Somefun

Tomi Somefun. Photo: LinkedIn/Tomi Somefun


Tomi Somefun began her journey as the MD/CEO of Unity Bank in August 2015 after a career stretching 26 years in the banking industry.

An alumnus of the Columbia Business School and several top-level schools outside the Nigerian shore, she is a member of many professional associations. Her experience spans corporate banking, retail, and commercial banking operations, etc.

A graduate of Education in English from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Somefun also holds an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration (D.BA) from the Redeemer’s University, Nigeria.

Yemi Edun (FCMB)

Yemi Edun of FCMB.


Yemisi Edun became the first female MD of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) after formerly serving as acting managing director of the bank.

She is a member/fellow of many institutes, holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Obafemi Awolowo University,  a master’s degree in international accounting and finance from the University of Liverpool.

Yemisi started working in FMCB in 2000 as a Divisional Head of Internal Audit and Control.

Until her appointment as the CEO/MD of FSDH Merchant Bank, she has held other key positions in other companies.

Bukola Smith (FSDH Merchant Bank)

Bukola Smith. Photo: LinkedIn/Bukola Smith


She has a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos and later bagged an MBA from the Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester.

Smith has 28 years of experience in the industry and boasts an impressive profile and fellowship/membership of high-ranking institutes in the financial sector and was appointed as the MD of the bank in April 2021.

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Citibank)

Ireti Samuel-Ogbu. Photo: LinkedIn/Ireti Samuel-Ogbu


With work experiences in South Africa and the UK among others, Ireti carved her name in the sands of history after becoming the first female MD/CEO of Citibank Nigeria in September 2020.

Her experience in the 36-year-old bank cuts across relationship management, sales, and corporate finance.

Halima Buba (SunTrust)

Halima Buba of SunTrust.


A champion of youth and women empowerment, Halima’s 20 years of experience in the banking industry saw her taking SunTrust’s top job in January 2020.

With a  Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in business management from the University of Maiduguri, she is equally a member of several institutes and holds an MBA from the Borno-based educational institution. She is also a board member of other renowned institutions.

Kafilat Araoye (Lotus Bank)

Kafilat Araoye, MD, Lotus Bank.


Having had a 25-year experience as a commercial banker, Kafilat leads Lotus Bank, a non-interest bank as the MD/CEO.

She has expertise in human resources, business development, payments, international and domestic operations among others.