2021 has been a remarkable year for the Nigerian woman, especially those in the financial industry. It is a year that can best be described and rightly so, as the year for the corporate Nigerian woman.
It was this year, that history was made with four females assuming the top position as Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of different banks in the country, bringing the total number of women in such prestigious position to eight.
Yemisi Edun of FCMB, Miriam Olusanya of Gtbank, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe of Fidelity Bank, Tomi Somefun of Unity Bank, Bukola Smith of FSDH Merchant Bank, Ireti Samuel-Ogbu of Citibank Nigeria Limited, Halima Buba of SunTrust Bank and Kafilat Araoye of Lotus Bank.
So, things are really changing for the women. From the time of late Bola Kuforiji-Olubi as the first female Bank chairperson of the United Bank for Africa (UBA), until recently when Ibukun Awosika was the Chairperson of First Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian women have risen to the pinnacle of their career and made so much impact at both domestic and global financial institutions.
Recall that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was at the World Bank for decades from where she returned to become the first female finance Minister of Nigeria, paving the way for other women to hold same office even till today. Okonjo-Iweala also this year, became the first female to head the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Also, there are more Nigerian women today, at the World Bank including Arunma Oteh who was once the Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Aside that, even in the highly technical oil and gas sector, the women are rising to stardom.
Three weeks ago, oil giant, Shell announced the appointment of Mrs. Elohor Aiboni as the new Managing Director of its Nigeria deep-water business, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, (SNEPCO). Mrs Elohor is the first female to lead SNEPCO in the more than six decades of Shell’s operations in Nigeria.
Nobody, can argue that the women didn’t merit those positions. It will even be foolhardy to think so because the job of the headship of a financial institution are positions that requires the highest level of intellect, cerebral capacity, competence, education and diligence. They are not in any way for mediocres.
The success story of these women is a pointer that if given the opportunity, Nigerian women can excel in any sector they find themselves. Sadly, in the political space, there is very little opportunity for them because of the dominance of their male counterparts.
But that should change, to allow women equal rights and opportunities to aspire for greater positions in the country. It will even be good for the nation’s democracy when both men and women compete favorably for different positions without the usual chauvinistic biases.
2023 is just around the corner and it is a good time to start. Like the men in the corporate world, male politicians should also provide an enabling ground for the women to test their might and popularity.
For the women, it is time to take advantage of their numerical strength to seek for positions to change their lives and society in general. No more playing second fiddle. They must work up the ladder to achieve the 40% ratio, allotted to them.