BUSINESS High expectation as Lamis Dikko becomes chairman of Unity Bank
The reports, last week, which hinted that the name of the erstwhile Executive Director of Unity Bank, Alhaji Lamis Shehu Dikko, was sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for approval as the new substantive chairman of the board of the bank was greeted across the industry with excitement and hopes for the bank’s future.
Unity Bank has often been referred to as the ‘sleeping giant’ of the Nigerian banking industry. Its huge potentials have not yet found effective expression and it is in an apparent fresh move to dig deep and unlock these that the bank began a restructuring exercise in 2013, according to reports from the bank.
None of the changes in its organisational or management structure has, however, raised more interest than Lamis’ ‘homecoming’.
The position of chairman of the bank is a very powerful one. The Board of Unity Bank is the highest decision making body and is in charge of policies that guide the Executive Management and ratifies initiatives of the Management. It is also directly involved in the Management of various aspects of the Bank’s activities through various committees.
Alhaji Dikko resigned from the bank in 2010, as the Group Executive Director, Central Region, to run for the Nigerian Senate.
Before then, he was the Executive Director, Credit Risk Management, a position he moved into immediately after the consolidation exercise that saw Intercity Bank, of which he was then Managing Director, merged with eight other banks to form Unity Bank in 2006.
Intercity Bank was the lead bank in the merger process and this put him squarely in the lead in the development of the merger strategy and its implementation. Being in the front seat at that period gave him the good understanding of the system and institution he helped created. His knowledge, no doubt, will be of immense value at this period of Unity Bank’s development.
Dikko, who is currently the chairman of the Infrastructure Bank, oversaw the re-branding of the bank used to be known as Urban Development Bank. He is also a Director at Enterprise Bank which rose from the ashes of the defunct Spring Bank and which within a period of about 3 years after its nationalization, moved from a precarious loss position to a profit making position of well over N11 billion as at 2012 and an improvement of loan-todeposit ratio from less than five per cent, well in excess of 60 per cent, factors which have led the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to view it as the most equipped among the three nationalised banks for its divestment. He is also a Director at Legacy Pension among others.
Among his many qualifications, Dikko holds a BSC Degree in Economics from Queen Mary’s College, University of London and is an Alumni of the Havard Business School for Management Development.
For a bank that had set for itself a new goal of launching itself into the sector’s major league, his return will be a welcome boost that the new Management team will need to conclude far reaching actions.
Some customers who spoke to Daily Trust expressed their confidence that the banks will witness change in its operations with Dikko in charge.
According to Idris Ibrahim, a customer with the bank in Abuja, the bank has numerous loyal customers but it is not investing in upgrading the Information Technology to be at par with its competitors, adding that with the coming of Dikko the story will change.
Also speaking, Mrs Grace Dan Asabe said although she didn’t know much about the new chairman, she hopes that the man will take the bank to the greater height “because I don’t have any other bank than Unity Bank”.
For now, it is the hope of many that the expectations hinged on Dikko’s tenure will soon translate into concrete achievements for the bank .