By OKUNADE ADEKUNLE
The All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the forthcoming Lagos East Senatorial District Bye-election, Mr. Tokunbo Abiru, on Saturday said he remains the best choice among the candidates vying to represent the people of the senatorial district at the Senate.
Abiru, who made this known at a media interactive session held in his country-home, Ikorodu, Lagos, said his professional background and boardroom experience had prepared him for the task ahead.
He said he was never anointed as a candidate of the APC but that the party members unanimously affirmed his candidature through direct primaries conducted genuinely.
“By training, I have my first degree in Economics. I am an economist and chartered accountant. I have a working experience of about 32years that is from 1988 to date. 29 years out of the 32 was spent in the banking sector. I am happy to also say that I was part of the early staff of Guaranty Trust Bank, the GTB which we are all proud of today in Nigeria as a strong brand. I join in 1991 and as at that time we were at 6 Adeyemo Alakija Street in Victoria Island with only 42 of us and today the bank can proud of about 15,000 workers.
“I worked in that environment from 1991 to 2000. For those of you who are familiar with the brand, you can see what it is made of in the private sector space. The bank stands for professionalism, quality of service, and best tradition of banking. So, that is where I grew up.
“Between 2000 and 2002, I worked in two other financial institutions. I worked with National Bank when it was about to be brought back to life, I quickly realized that it did not fit in into the value I was coming with from GTB. The rest is history, there is no National Bank today. From there I went to a bank called First Atlantic which also fizzy out. I left before it fizzled out. I spent 10months with them before moving to First Bank. I was in First Bank from 2002 to 2016 which was practically about 15years. If you add that together, it is about 25years as at that time.
“I had the privilege to serve the Lagos State Government between 2011 and 2013 as a Commissioner For Finance. It was just only for 2years under former governor Babatunde Raji Fashola. I chose to leave the government because I was at the peak of my managerial career as I came into the government as a Deputy General Manager in First Bank but not the peak of executive leadership. You know the aspiration of every young men is to get to the peak of their professional career.
” So, for me, public governance is something you can come back to but there is a time in one’s life to get to the executive leadership and if you miss the time you can’t achieve it again. Public life is a life long experience. The point then was that I can always come back to public service. I left with the understanding of the leadership of the party and the government. I went back into the banking sector to finish as an executive director which of course is like getting to the peak of my career. And I am happy for taking such decision.
” I also have the privilege of being in the bank by the Central Bank to handle the troubled Skye Bank then . It was a major issue there was very difficult situation and there was a global economic meltdown by virtue of decline in oil revenue which affected the country. The country was in recession and you can’t bring back a troubled bank during recession, you can only worsen it. I went to Skye Bank with clear mandate to safe the institution from falling and also bring it back to a profitable status.
” So, I was opportune to lead the team as Managing Group Director in 2016 and by the grace of God with team work, we were able to recapitalise Skye Bank to become Polaris Bank in 2018. In 2019, all the problems that the defunct Skye Bank had, had been corrected. The decline ratio turned positive, the profitability also turned positive. Even as challenging as this year is as a result of COVID 19, I can also confirm to you that the bank is still making profit.
” While we see all these achievements, for me as an individual, I thank God for these achievements and at the same time, I also realised that I had done what were expected of me, what is described as the mandate . I have made it clearly from the beginning of this year that I had delivered on the mandate given to me and having spent about 30years in banking, it is also clear that it is time to start thinking about retirement.
” I don’t have a business venture, my thought is all about how do I give back to the society with my experience and competence acquired so far from private sector”, said Abiru.
He explained that before aspiring for the position, he had extensively consulted the party leadership including the Governor’s Advisory Council (GAC), stressing that he was still consulting further.
The APC Candidate added that he had meet with all aspirants who showed interest in the position, adding that they had agreed to work together for the victory of the party at the poll.
” I have consulted widely and still consulting. I have met with the party leadership, party executives at the state level and also those who showed interest in the position and they have all agreed to work for the victory of the party. I am not here as an anointed candidate, I want you all to correct such perception. As a matter of fact, party members affirmed my candidature through direct primaries on the 3rd of September”, said Abiru.
He added that his professional background and experience had prepared him enough to be able to navigate legislative politics in the Senate, saying that it would be quick for him to understand the legislative intrigues.
Recall that at the primaries election which was by affirmation, the Chief Returning Officer, Hon. Ibrahim Masari announced that Abiru recorded a total vote of 111,551 in five local governments of the senatorial district.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had slated 31st October for the bye-election to fill the vacuum created following the death of Sen. Adebayo Osinowo ( Lagos East) and Hon. Tunde Braimoh ( Kosofe Constituency 2) at the Senate and Lagos State House of Assembly respectively.