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Tribute to a Quiet Colossus- Mr. Moyo Ajekigbe
Outgoing M.D. of First Bank of Nigeria.

By Dr. Olutayo Ariyo
 Published December 28th, 2008

Crowning his30 year- career with the First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) , the last six years as its M.D/CEO, Mr. Jacob Moyo Ajekigbe (JMA) is retiring from the FBN with what is most important to him, an untarnished reputation, and a non negotiable or compromising integrity. A man at peace with himself, always committed to "giving it all" in whatever is his calling in life. He is highly appreciative of the support of his dedicated, hardworking and trusted lieutenants as well as the contributions and sacrifices made by other staff members including the junior employees. Moyo possesses tremendous peoples’ skills, and combining this with both technological and innovative skills have led to positioning FBN as the leading Nigerian Bank in shareholders funds in 2007, according to Nigeria’s Economic Magazine-Economic Confidential Dec.2008 Issue .

Moyo Ajekigbe in retirement is being eulogized by the Chairman of the First Bank Alhaji (Dr) Umaru Mutallab as having succeeded in taking the First Bank to "impressive heights". Several important achievements in growth of the various portfolios of the FBN under Moyo Ajekigbe’s leadership include initiating a record making and highly successful hybrid offer and the success achieved in making FBN the first Nigeria company to hit the N1 trillion mark in market capitalization, according to a release from the bank’s corporate body in announcing JMA’s impeding retirement

Other strategic initiatives under Moyo Ajekigbe’s meritorious and able leadership include "the creation of 8 local subsidiaries and a fully fledged bank in the United Kingdom (FBN Branch (UK) limited, a branch in Paris through FBN Bank (UK) with the intent to spread across Europe as well as a representative office in South Africa, with further application to set up in Asia under processing." These heroic forays into various corners of global market capitalizations are highly impressive, innovative, visionary and a major strategic paradigm shift in operational focus, helping the FBN in positioning itself to compete more favorably in today’s market place that is no longer regional or local, but global.

Sir Moyooo, as his Higher School Certificate (HSC) Classmates in Christ’s School Ado-Ekiti, would call him, knows how to and has always demonstrated a capacity to play with distinction in the " big league". He joined the HSC Class of 1970/71 whose parent body was the trailblazing 1965-69 set that produced 44 Grade Ones in the WASCE, with 30 of these graduating later as Medical Doctors, and about 5 members earning their Ph.D’s in different disciplines.

This was in no manner or form intimidating to this very confident new comer from Okeho-Iganna High School, a school little known to most of us. We later found out that Moyo was Okeho-Iganna Grammar School’s Senior Prefect and the only student who earned a Grade I in his graduating class. At Christ’s school, Moyo quickly established himself as a force to reckon with academically in his new "star studded class". It may interest those of you in the financial sector to know that Erastus Bankole Akingbola of InterContinental Bank is a member of the 1965-69 parent set of the 1965-69/71 bigger tent that Moyo Ajekigbe belongs to.

Geography was Moyo’s best subject. and he was so confident that, several weeks before the exam , he will advise his other colleagues to stay away from picking some particular topics , unless it was made mandatory. Anyone defying such timely warning did this at his or her peril. Moyo would write about 1-1/2 pages and very tersely, earning him 23-24 of 25 points. The next person to him, no matter how many pages he or she wrote would score a maximum of 15 of 25 points. To be forewarned was to have been be forearmed.!

At Ado-Ekiti, Moyo was made the House Captain of Babamboni House, the next most prestigious position to those of the school.’s Senior Prefect and his Deputy. Christ’s school traditionally chooses a Foundation student for the Senior Prefect position

Two events during our HSC days stood out to help define who Moyo is. Moyo is a peace maker in the mode of Jimmy Carter , and a thoughtful, skillful, deliberative and less confrontational icon. Shortly before we had the Final HSC exams, the new HSC entrants was almost accusing the "old " HSC counterpart of engaging in academic apartheid and isolationism. Even though Moyo was one of the new students, he did not buy into the conspiracy. He confronted this head on, and concluded there was no truth to the allegations. Were it not for Moyo’s boldness, and his passion to unearth the truth , the 1970/71 HSC members could have splintered into 2 warring, non trusting camps. That bold move on the part of Moyo is the cement that has helped in gluing us together as a very closely knit unit today. Thank you Sir Moyoooo for this class act!.

On a second occasion, the Prefect body was on a collision path with the Principal because the Principal did not support a draconian move made by the Prefect body wanting to ban the bringing of "gari" (cassava flour) to school, in the guise of wanting to enforce "better discipline". Hell was let loose. The student body rose up in an uproar .Some of the students went as far as "drinking " gari at night , leaving the bowl underneath the Prefects’ beds in order to discredit and embarrass the Prefects.To Christ’s School students , the thought of any attempt to banning the "drinking" of gari was a sacrilege.

The hawks among us wanted us to down tools and hand over our Prefect badges if the Principal failed to support our efforts . The hawks used every trick in the political playbook throwing the kitchen sink at the moderates, blackmailing and accusing them of being selfish, unpatriotic and were more interested in parading their Prefect badges in their respective "town halls and market places" during the holidays because of the "clout" a Christ’s School prefect badge would confer on them !

The cautious voice of Moyo and other moderates still hunt those of us hawks till today because our so called " movement" was no match against the impenetrable rock of Gibraltar in Late Principal Ogunlade’s well oiled , pit-bull ammunition at putting down any revolt. The chief quickly pushed the Prefects into a defensive corner asking us how he could justify telling that "poor loving father or mother " traveling several miles from the village and the "only thing" they can afford giving their child is "gari" to be told to take this back with them to the village, because " my Prefects are against this"!!!. Full stop. The mission was dubbed "DOA" dead on arrival.

Moyo Ajekigbe is very humble and publicity shy . He is an individual who never forgets the humble roots from which he came from and will not shy away from bestowing credence , and recognition on those he met while on his way up. I once visited Moyo in his Office with Tolu Olarewaju another HSC classmate of ours, in the office. Moyo then was the second in command at FBN and was at a meeting with his boss. We told the secretary to give him the message that 2 of his classmates (names anonymous ) were there to see him. Minutes later Moyo showed up ,greeted us briefly and apologized he had to go back to his boss. Many of our Nigerian men and women even in "less esteemed" high offices would not even acknowledge such visits, let alone dignifying it. They will rather tell the secretary to tell those visitors how busy he or she was, visiting their furry and indignation later on these hapless subordinates for that much daring!.

The Moyo of 2008 is still the Moyo we knew about 38 years ago, humble, unassuming, down to earth very cordial , friendly, very highly competitive, credible, respectful and much respected . Moyo never forgets his humble background, appreciating and honoring those who were his mentors.

Family values are very important to Moyo . Once asked what was his happiest day in the life of his family, he responded "the day our son graduated from the University" . Moyo knows very much that the greatest return on any investment is an investment made on education as stated by Benjamin Franklin.

Moyo Ajekigbe’s star glowed very bright and was recognizable as far back as his HSC days, despite being tossed to an arena of a highly competitive sclass.At least 4-5 of Moyo’s classmates in the HSC Class are now full professors at very distinguished Universities across the globe. However , Moyo’s super stardom was so evident as to have earned him him a "Knighthood"- Sir Moyooo .The heights he has achieved in the today’s global financial place shows it was "knighthood" well deserving.

I ponder to myself as this quiet icon goes into retirement what the future holds for this esteemed high performing individual. His counterparts in developed parts of the world, comparable to the Chairman of high performing organizations like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup etc would be much sought after for the post of Treasury Secretary , the equivalent of our Minister of Finance. One hopes that our leaders will put affirmative action and partisanship apart and search for great talents from wherever they may come from to help us in building a bright future for our kids.

Sir Moyoooo, we are very proud to have been associated with you, a complete gentleman, a loving husband , an affectionate father, dignifying , honest , a peace broker , a calming, reassuring and moderating influence in times of crisis , thoughtful and a true friend . Moyo, you are no doubt one of a few, highly achieving illustrious sons of Nigeria with immense accomplishments. This celebrated , highly cerebral talent and a very quiet colossus deserves a very big thank you from an appreciative nation he has done so much proud and meritoriously served .

 

Olutayo Ariyo
Christ’s School Alumnus 1965-69/71 set
A Medical Doctor ,teaches Anatomy and Neuroscience at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

         


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