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Stakeholders laud Okpanachi’s appointment as MD of Development Bank



Stakeholders in the financial industry have lauded the appointment of Anthony Okpanachi, former Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of Ecobank Nigeria Limited by the Ministry of Finance as chief executive officer of Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), which they said came as no surprise, especially to those who had worked with him.

He was to have succeeded the immediate past Managing Director of the bank, Jibril Aku, whose tenure elapsed in April 2015. But internal intrigues denied him the position.

For one thing, there were some executive directors of Ecobank Nigeria who felt that, by virtue of their longer stay at the financial institution, it was their birthright to automatically transit to the highest office in the bank. There were at least four of such who thought so. One of them, a highly respected woman, it was learnt, vehemently opposed his ascension.

Second, the Togo-based group office of the Pan-African bank wasted no time in naming Charles Kie, an Ivorian, as new chief executive, no thanks to the needless infighting at its Nigerian affiliate.

Providentially, the ugly incident of the recent past may have paid off with the elevation of Okpanachi as helmsman of the DBN. Having worked with him for no less than two years, he fits in as a best man for the job.

Speaking to The Guardian on his appointment, former Head of Media Relations and Collateral Brand Management at Ecobank and ex-president of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), Lumumba Igun said: “Mr. Tony Okpanachi is a well-grounded banker, an astute administrator and a quintessential gentleman. His appointment is a true reflection of the classic square peg in a square hole-a perfect fit and given all in his make-up and armoury, he will do very well in his new position.”

Another exco member of ASSBIFI and the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) who pleaded anonymity, said: “Okpanachi is a consummate professional, a thoughtful leader who pays attention to every detail and gives the required support to ensure his team’s success. His appointment is timely.”

A staff of Ecobank said: “A first meeting gave him away as a simple, strategic, unassuming and humane team leader that easily passed for a middle level management staff at the time. He was one top executive I missed while leaving the bank in February 2015 due to his leadership style. We could relate with him fairly in spite of the supposed ant-elephant relationship.

“On his return from Kenya where he was Managing Director before his secondment to the Nigerian affiliate in 2013, he had visited our Brand and Communication office on 54 Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. On the occasion, he exchanged pleasantries with all and sundry, exhibiting an uncanny camaraderie. I had inquired from my colleague, Harriba Harry-Pepple, who he was.

“And to my utmost surprise, Pepple said: “That was Anthony Okpanachi, our new deputy managing director.” I was indeed titillated by his simplicity and humility. By the way, we had worked with a managing director and five executive directors who neither knew nor visited this strategic unit.

“Working with Okpanachi in Lagos and out of station was a delight, to say the least. One of such assignments was at Ado-Ekiti during the disbursement of N100,000 loans to over 2000 indigenes in 2014 at the state’s Millennium  Development Goals (MDGs) project of the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and anchored by Ecobank Nigeria.”

Another staff who served under the Brand and Communication unit of Ecobank said: “What struck me most about him was the professionalism exhibited by him in the discharge of his duties and delegation of others to subordinates. Prior to the commencement of the event, we had noticed that the Ekiti State government, led by then Governor Kayode Fayemi, had a bloated representation far beyond what was in the speech to be delivered by the bank chief. But in an ingenious manner, he beckoned at me for solution and behold we urgently adjusted the speech by including the extra names in ink which was expertly delivered eventually.”

Okpanachi comes prepared for his new task. He was Managing Director, Ecobank Kenya and Cluster Managing Director for East Africa (comprising Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Ethiopia). He was also at various times Managing Director of Ecobank Malawi and Regional Coordinator for Lagos and South West of Ecobank Nigeria.

A seasoned banker with over 26 years’ experience, he has a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Manchester Business School, United Kingdom and Masters of Science Degree (MSC) in Economics from the University of Lagos.

With the new call to service, Okpanachi is in a familiar terrain to deliver the goods as he had done on a number of occasions.

With an initial $1.3billion take-off fund and promise of zero political interference from the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, at his unveiling in Abuja, there are no fears whatsoever the strategic team player will sure deliver on the bank’s mandate of supporting and growing small and medium scale businesses nationwide.

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