Aishah-Ahmad.

Vincent Obia profiles the new deputy governor nominee for the Central Bank of Nigeria

The new Central Bank of Nigeria Deputy Governor nominee, Aishah Ahmad, is young for the post by today’s standards. In a country where the commanding heights of politics and the economy seem to be the exclusive preserve of a gerontocracy based on old-time connections, the appointment of 39-year-old Ahmad really ushers in change.

The Niger-born mother of two comes to her job with a rich banking background, spanning experiences in investment banking, retail banking, wealth management, consulting, and financial advisory.

Born October 26, 1977, Ahmad, the wife of Abdallah Ahmad, a retired Brigadier-general, was until her appointment Head, Consumer Banking and Privilege (Wealth) at Diamond Bank Plc, a post she has held since June 2014. She has since November 2015 been the chairperson, Executive Council, Women in Management, Business and Public Service, a Nigeria-based non-profit organisation established in 2001. WIMBIZ is dedicated to addressing issues affecting women professionals in business, particularly with regard to the promotion of leadership development and capacity building. It was founded by 13 women and one man who sought to resolve issues concerning women in the workplace and in business.

A graduate of Accounting from the University of Abuja, Ahmad had worked with NAL Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, and Zenith Bank Plc. She was Head, Private Clients/Private Banking, Stanbic IBTC; Head of Business Development, Zenith Capital Limited; Head, Retail Banking (Energy Group), Zenith Bank Plc; Private Banker/Head Private Banking Unit, NAL Bank Plc; and Chief Financial Officer, Manstructs Group.

She holds a Master of Science degree in Finance and Management from the Cranfield School of Management in the United Kingdom, and a Master of Business Administration with specialisation in Finance from the University of Lagos. She also holds the award of Chartered Financial Analyst, a gold standard financial market qualification for professionals with careers/trainings as investment managers, financial analysts, credit analysts, portfolio managers. Ahmad also has the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst award.

Ahmad, who started her banking career with First Interstate Bank Plc as Executive Assistant, Treasury Group, has also worked with Bank of New York Mellon (UK) and Synesix Financial Limited (UK). She was in May appointed as member, Board Of Directors, SOS Children’s Villages Nigeria, an organisation dedicated to providing “quality care, education & health services to at-risk children and families in 135 countries and territories.”

She served as a member of the steering committee for Cherie Blair Foundation’s Technology for Growth project, a learning programme for female entrepreneurs developed in conjunction with the Enterprise Development Centre of Lagos Business School.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday transmitted a letter to the Senate announcing Ahmad’s appointment, according to a statement by the president’s special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina. The statement said, “In accordance with the provisions of Section 8(1) (2) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) Act 2007, President Buhari urged the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, to consider the expeditious confirmation of Mrs Ahmad, who would then resume work immediately.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Ahmad, a would-be lone female in the committee of CBN deputy governors, would be replacing Kwara-born Dr. Sarah Alade, herself also an only woman deputy governor until she retired from the apex bank on March 22 as Deputy Governor, Economic Policy Directorate. Both are from the North-central geopolitical zone.

Ahmad says she has been inspired by a generation of successful women leaders, like former United States First Lady and ex-presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. The new CBN deputy governor nominee is quoted as saying last year, “Hillary Clinton, who happens to be my ‘birthday mate’, has been a strong influencer over the years. I admire her ability to stay focused on making an impact and my admiration for her has only been validated by her recent nomination as the US Democratic presidential candidate.”

She has also been quoted as saying, “I was lucky to have very early positive and visible role models of women working outside the home and making a big difference in their careers. One of my grandmothers created a distinguished career in the nursing field, being one of the early recipients of an international education, and I have many aunties who are doing great things in their various businesses and careers.

“I must credit my mother for inspiring my strong work ethic. She’s been successful at diverse careers in pharmacology, accounting and as a business woman, including managing a family.”