From Ikorodu, Ibeju-Lekki to Ikosi, Somolu to Epe and everywhere in between, especially among members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, there is genuine acceptance and applause for the nomination of Tokunbo Abiru, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Polaris Bank Limited, as the party’s consensus candidate for the Lagos East Senatorial District Bye-election.
The bye-election, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has slated October 31st, came about because of the death, in June, of the former occupant of the seat, Senator Bayo Osinowo. Osinowo died at 64 due to complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since his death, there had been permutations and speculations about possible candidates, and some of the names hitherto thrown up include former Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode; and late Chief Lanre Rasaq among others. However, the party seems to have unanimously settled for Abiru. In fact, his posters are strewn all over the senatorial district while the campaign for him is gathering momentum.
Regarded as one of the more innovative and resilient bankers in Nigeria, Abiru has been appraised as an exceptional turnaround manager whose emergence as Managing Director of Skye Bank then marked a significant turnaround for the bank. Coming at a time the bank was bleeding under the heavyweight of colossal non-performing loans and mismanagement, the appointment of the fiercely brilliant Abiru could not have come at a more auspicious time.
An Economics graduate of the Lagos State University, Ojo, Abiru who was born March 1964, started his banking career at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), where he worked for 10 years; and then spent 14 years working at First Bank of Nigeria Limited. He served as the Relationship Team Leader, Retail Banking; Business Development Manager, Lagos (Ikeja 1); and Group Head, Corporate Banking. Also an alumnus of Harvard Business School (Advanced Management Programme) and Lagos Business School (Senior Management Programme), Abiru is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and an honorary senior member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
At the beginning of the second term of former Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, he appointed Abiru as Commissioner for Finance during which the state successfully floated an N80 billion bond, earning it the EMEA Finance’s Best Local Currency Bond Award for 2012. Under his leadership, Abiru made the state’s tax efforts cohesive, and the discovery of over 5.5 million tax evaders in 2013 opened up the discussion regarding taxation in Lagos state.
His efforts also led to increased Land Use Charge revenue generations to the tune of N6.2billion. Abiru resigned in 2013 to take up a position as the Executive Director, Corporate Banking of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. In July 2016, he was appointed by the CBN to head the then troubled Skye Bank, now known as Polaris Bank, a future-determining bank committed to the delivery of industry-defining products, and services, across all the sectors of the Nigerian economy.