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Erastus Akingbola at 70 - a Tribute

10/26/2020 | 11:06am EST

The person of Dr. Erastus B O Akingbola needs no introduction in the Nigerian society across the elite and middle class for many reasons. He was one of the frontliners in the Nigeria's second wave banking revolution in what was codenamed, the new generation banks.

The battery of banks that made this category, the first set of indigenous privately owned banks ran into troubled waters precipitated by the global financial and economic crises of 2008 which ended their wave with few survivors.

Akingbola was among those that headlined the crises that erupted from the of the impact of the global crises on Nigeria's financial system.

Whilst he still battles the fallouts 12 years running, Akingbola is also known for other non-banking engagements which he has continued to pursue despite the distractions of the battles surrounding his role in the financial crises.

As he clocks 70 years today, two of the key engagements are his major role in social entrepreneurship aimed at re-engineering of the socio-economic and ethical mindset of the youth and the middle-aged Nigerian population through his radio broadcast project and the Amazing Inspiration Foundation. He has also sustained his pastoral life through practical clergymanship and evangelism.

The radio, Inspiration 92.3FM, is Nigeria's first and only family radio service that caters to the needs of many of the key demographics represented within the family.

Inspiration, as the name implies, is a divinely originated concept that incorporates ideas, music and information intended to uplift the spirit of the listener and encourage interaction for purposeful living.

Unlike the regular radio in Nigeria, the core mission is to infuse positive energy into the minds of the listeners to help them understand their environment and navigate the challenges they encounter daily. The programs are designed to encourage listeners to imbibe faith, good morals, virtue and ethics in their daily living.

This unique attribute has endeared the organisation to the hearts of positive-minded Nigerians and attracted a lot more listenership which has placed it amongst the top three most listened radio stations in the country particularly in its current broadcast space across South West and South South Nigeria from its locations in Lagos, Oyo and Akwa Ibom States.

Efforts are underway to stamp the radio's physical presence in the Northern parts of the country.

The radio project is driven with the same zeal that led to his numerous accomplishments as a banker, business leader, inspirational mentor to many, philanthropist and preacher of the Word of God.

The senior management staff of the former Intercontinental Bank, marked his 70th birthday acknowledging his positive impact in their lives, his diligent pursuit of a vision for the Intercontinental Group, its people and the lives he touched through charity and selfless endeavours.

Birth & Early Childhood

Dr. Erastus Bankole Oladipo Akingbola was born on October 26, 1950 to Chief Samuel Orogbode Akingbola, a Church Catechist and Teacher, and Mrs Christiana Akingbola, a book seller, in Ilesha, in the present-day Osun State.

Erastus grew up in a loving Christian home and despite his Parents' lean resources, they understood the value of education and were determined to give their Children good education, irrespective of gender.

Early Schooling

Erastus was a bright Pupil and his father had high expectations for his son, especially as he rounded off his Primary Schooling. He did not disappoint.

He fared well with the interview process for some prestigious schools and settled with Christ School, Ado Ekiti, which was based primarily on Academics.

Erastus enjoyed his years at Christ School, Ado Ekiti and apart from being a brilliant student, was also actively engaged in sports, participating in long distance race. He was also a member of the school's drama group.

But perhaps the highest point of his involvement in extra curricular activities for the school was when he represented the school at a Western Nigeria Regional Final Competition in Broadcasting and clinched the best position.

In his final year at Christ School, Erastus had plans to proceed to Advanced Level (A Level) and had been offered admission for the purpose, but one fateful day his mother came from Ile-Ife to retrieve the money they had paid as deposit for his 'A Level' to meet some pressing family financial obligations. That put paid to his plans in that regard.

After concluding his 'O levels', he proceeded to Lagos and through the assistance of an paternal Uncle, Rev. (Engr.) Chris Fajemirokun, secured employment as an Accounts Clerk in a company, two weeks after leaving Secondary School, earning 15 Pounds per month.

His Uncle had a colleague who was living in a neighbouring house who he usually accompanied to work in his car. Erastus was instructed by his Uncle to wash the neighbour's car daily which he diligently did for months until one day the man, Chief Akinniyi Olukeye Akinbami, invited him over to Barclays Bank for employment test, which he passed. He was employed in the bank thereafter.

Career trajectory

Dr Akingbola had pursued his banking career from the lowest level into the pinnacle of the banking industry in Africa. He had over 35 years continuous banking practice embracing commercial banking, merchant banking, discount house operations, capital market, leasing and insurance.

He started his banking career at the then Barclays Bank (now Union Bank) where he learned the ropes and rose to the position of Accountant by 1977, before leaving for NAL Merchant Bank Limited as Executive Assistant in the Operations Department. He rose rapidly at NAL, becoming a Senior Manager in 1984.

In 1987, he was appointed Controller of Operations in the First City Merchant Bank Limited.

He functioned in this capacity till 1989 when he co-founded and was appointed the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Nigerian Intercontinental Merchant Bank Limited which later transformed into a commercial bank as Intercontinental Bank Plc.

As at the time of his exit he had built the bank from scratch to become one of the biggest in the country with subsidiaries in Ghana and United Kingdom.

He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) where he rose to become the President of the foremost professional body of bankers in Nigeria. He served as the President of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN).

He also served as the President of Lagos Business School Alumni Association (1998)

He is a Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Management, and the Chartered Institute of Bankers, London.

Dr. Akingbola attended several banking and executive management courses both locally and internationally in the USA (Harvard Business School), France, Switzerland, Singapore, Britain etc.

He was elected in 2004 to represent West Africa in the Executive Board of the African Bankers' Forum, an arm of the AFREXIMBANK, which seeks to integrate private sector banking institutions in Africa for continental business finance.

He has been conferred with several awards including Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), a national award by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, in recognition of his monumental contributions to the development of the Nigerian economy.

Akingbola also bagged the Kwame Nkrumah Award from the Nkrumah Foundation in Ghana in 2004 as CEO of one of the leading financial institutions in Africa. He was a recipient of the Zik's Leadership Award.

Dr. Akingbola, holds an MBA degree from the University of Lagos in 1986.

Family Life

Considering his humble circumstances, he felt a keen sense of responsibility to positively affect the lot of the family and help his struggling parents, more so as the first son. He thus had no time for interaction with the opposite sex, working all day and studies till the late hours of the night for his AIB examinations.

But love had an interesting surprise for him, and it came in the form of a dream he had where he was in a chauffeur-driven car with a lady beside him, heading to Ile-Ife to see his Dad. He forgot about it, or so he thought, until two years later when a lovely 17-year-old lady was introduced as a new staff of the branch.

He instantly recognized her as the lady he had seen in his dreams and the sheer joy of his discovery sent his adrenaline racing. He knew that God certainly had a divine purpose for the dream of two years earlier. On October 20, 1979, the love story of the then Anthonia Tolulope Odesanya and Erastus Akingbola, culminated in their marriage

Forty-one years later, the marriage has has been blessed with four children all of whom God has prospered in their respective endeavours.

The first Son, Wole, is an Economist; the second, Toye, is a Software Engineer; their daughter, Lola, is a Medical Doctor while the third son and last born, Akinyemi, is a lawyer.

God has also blessed the Akingbolas with grand-parenthood and seeing Dr. Akingbola and his wife with their grandchildren and other members of the family gives expression to true family love and affection.

Business Acumen & Enterprise

Dr. Akingbola had his first taste of entrepreneurship as a little boy traversing the streets of Ilesha hawking his mother's wares. As a Student at Christ's School, Ado Ekiti, Dr. Akingbola set up two businesses, in partnership with some schoolmates.

His venture into full entrepreneurship, however, was when he became the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Nigerian Intercontinental Merchant Bank Limited (NIMBL) in February, 1989.

Intercontinental Bank & Leadership

The bank's beginning was indeed humble, with its Head Office being in an obscure Berkley Street, Onikan, Lagos. The bank also did not possess the financial clout of some of its competitive peers but that did not dampen the sense of mission Dr. Akingbola and his founding Directors and team had about the bank. When the bank made a pre-tax profit of N18 million for its first 10 months of operations ending in December 1989, the entire banking industry took note of this rare feat.

Dr. Akingbola believes God prepared his successful entrepreneurial and managerial journey through his exposure to good mentors. He said, "I learnt Banking Operations from Chief Akinbami at Barclays Bank; Management skills from Chief Wole Adeosun, the then CEO of NAL Merchant Bank and Entrepreneurship from Otunba Subomi Balogun, the founder of FCMB.

"I simply adopted and introduced all the operational and management structures I had learnt. My team were all very dedicated and determined. They knew I did not spare myself. My first meeting of the day with the management starts 8:00am and we had no late comers".

Perhaps, Dr. Akingbola's best attribute as a leader is his ability to inspire people to achieve and even exceed their expectations. For him, "Leadership Means Results" and one of the most used mantras at Intercontinental Bank then was "No Teller for Efforts", a direct admonition to staff to always focus on result-oriented activity.

His oft-used term, "Fire in the Belly", refers to passionate, self-driven professionals that are usually champions of an Organization's goals and objectives.

One thing anyone that has worked with Dr. Akingbola can attest to is his adroit use of humour, anecdotes and constant engagement with his Staff to motivate them to peaks of performance.

He also believes Leadership is about building Organizations where the welfare and wellbeing of the human capital is foremost priority.

The Intercontinental Bank he led spared no expense in ensuring the best medical attention for staff, including sponsoring treatment to the best facilities internationally for staff of various levels. The Bank was also one of the few institutions that had a mortgage loan facility that was extended to Drivers, security guards and other junior personnel, through which they became proud homeowners.

Religion, Humanity, Philanthropy

Dr. Erastus Akingbola got his strong Christian roots from his Parents who he described as "Prayer Warriors". His father was very passionate about his calling as a Catechist, often going to remote villages around to preach the gospel and fasting and praying regularly at home.

The name of his mother's Bookshop "Adura Lere Bookshop" was in affirmation of his Parents' unflinching faith in the efficacy of Prayers and Supplication to the Lord.

This solid Christian Foundation helped Dr. Akingbola's spiritual growth and when he was ordained a Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).

Over the years, his Philanthropic contributions, both individually and through organizations he has led, are legion. One of the most significant was a 120-Bed, 60 Room Post Graduate Hostel he built, furnished and donated to the University of Lagos in 2006. Intercontinental Bank, under his watch, also built and donated Hostel Complexes and other infrastructure to many Universities across Nigeria, including the University of Lagos, University of Benin, Bayero University, Kano, among others.

He has also contributed significantly to various worthy causes, especially in the area of the propagation of the gospel. Since 2008, he has been publishing and distributing the Word for Today, a daily devotional that is published every quarter, which is circulated across Nigeria and other countries free of charge, through the Grace So Amazing Foundation he founded with his wife.

He is also a Committed member of the Bible Society of Nigeria, particularly in its project to translate the Bible into various languages.


Copyright Vanguard. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com)., source News Service English

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