An Encounter with Tokunbo Abiru, Ex-Polaris Bank CEO

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Tokunbo Abiru

BY Ohireimen Obadan

“Monday, Ms. Tutu Soleye is my teacher and mentor, I will do everything I can to get it done today.” These reassuring words still resonate with me about 30 years after. I met a young man Tokunbo Abiru, who I discovered was just building a banking career at Guaranty Trust Bank sometimes in 1991 at Plural House on Oyin Jolayemi Street. Then I was the Personal Assistant to the founding MD/CEO, of the defunct Citadel Savings and Loans Limited, Ms. Olatutu Soleye, who also owns the defunct FINC, an asset financing company, where I assisted her, as one of my roles as her PA to administer.

As a young man, myself, attempting to find a career path in the financial sector, I was enamored by Abiru’s sense of duty, humility, amiable mien, attention to details, focus, and a great ability to walk you through scenarios for better understanding. He also went the extra mile to assist me conclude a transaction that almost went awry for short of the required fund in the company’s account with GTBank on a Friday. It happened that, desperate to conclude this transaction on a Friday, I approached this shy-looking, but very articulate young man, our account officer, on what and how he could assist a young man like him to meet an objective and be fulfilled. He listened with rapt attention to my analyses and projections why he should push the N1 million T.O.D. (Temporary Overdraft) for us. It looked a difficult task because of the chain of approvals it would go through, almost at a close of business on a Friday. It was a daunting task! Tokunbo Abiru reassured me that he would give it his best shot and I should trust him. Pronto!, he went to work and after few minutes, he got the approvals to confirm the earlier quotation. I would also recall my short, but memorable acquaintance with Mr. Abiru was when I was introduced by my former boss at Prime Merchant Bank, Mrs. Nneka Udezue, who happened to be his new HoD (Corporate Banking), having been shortlisted to fill the vacant position of PA to Mr. Fola Adeola, the pioneer MD/CEO of GTBank. Tokunbo was very handy to talk some points. I, nevertheless, goofed at the interview panel session. He warned me that the panel would try to intimidate me to gauge my temperament. I hope Aunty Mosun get to read this and recall what transpired (still laughing)…

Those valuable tips by Mr. Abiru are still resonating and are endearing to me. These have assisted me to resolve life situations. So, it was a sheer providence or is it coincidence, when my political leader and mentor, Rep. Jimi Benson, Director of Mr. Abiru’s APC’s Lagos East Senatorial Bye- Campaign Strategy, have me, as a grassroots community mobiliser and social media commentator, embedded in the TACT2020 (Tokunbo Abiru Constituency Team), it was a happy reunion as we relived these experiences of about 30years ago at an inaugural, but interactive session recently. I make it bold to declare that the choice of Mr. Tokunbo Abiru as APC candidate who by the grace of God would have been elected as the incoming Senator for my constituency would be a paradigm shift to true and real representation at the Red Chambers. I have no doubt that he would bring his 32-years private and public sectors’ corporate governance experiences to bear in the Senate.

Judging by my encounter with Mr. Abiru, he is astute when it comes to goal-getting, he is eloquent, focus, calculative, sensitive to issues and can discern opportunities. He has a listening ear and can communicate effectively on many issues. Mr. Abiru is frank and transparently honest. His words are bankable and he is committed to his promises.

• Deacon Obadan is Head of Corporate Services, Skymit Limited.