For leading Zenith Bank to become the No. 1 bank in Nigeria in a period of economic downturn, sustaining the bank’s tradition of contributing substantially to the community through several corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, Ebenezer Onyeagwu is the LEADERSHIP CEO of the Year 2022
Ebenezer Onyeagwu was appointed managing director and chief executive officer of Zenith Bank in June 2019, after nearly 30 years of experience in the banking industry in Nigeria. He joined Zenith Bank Plc in 2002 as a senior manager in the Internal Control and Audit group of the bank.
His professionalism, competence, integrity and commitment to the set objectives of the bank saw him rise swiftly between 2003 and 2005, first, as assistant general manager, then deputy general manager, and eventually as general manager of the bank.
In these capacities, he handled strategies for new business and branch development, management of risk assets portfolios, treasury functions, strategic top-level corporate, multinational and public institutional relationships, among others.
As deputy managing director, Onyeagwu had oversight over the bank’s financial control and strategic planning, risk management, retail banking, institutional and corporate banking business portfolios, IT group, credit administration, treasury and foreign exchange trading, as well as general administration of the bank, among others.
Although he took the reins of the bank’s leadership at the beginning of a downturn in the global economy, Onyeagwu was able to navigate the stormy weather occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that the bank continued to uphold its stellar performance.
In the past three years as the helmsman at Zenith Bank, Onyeagwu has deployed impeccable professionalism, discipline and persistence to change the traditional narrative of the banking sector in Nigeria and the continent, utilising the best of ideas, people, talents and other resources within the bank to create the required momentum for engendering sustained excellent performances.
Under his leadership, Zenith Bank has maintained its growth trajectory, growing enormously to become Nigeria’s largest and one of Africa’s largest financial institutions by tier-1 capital, with shareholders’ funds of NGN1.28trillion ($3.03billion) as of December 31, 2021. The bank has remained a clear market leader, growing its total assets and net income by an annual average of 15.7 per cent and 15.5 per cent respectively in the last five years.
Onyeagwu has led the bank in contributing significantly to the sustainable development of many local communities across Nigeria. Understanding the developmental gap that exists across many rural communities in Nigeria, the bank has made concerted efforts to bridge these gaps through the provision of access roads, potable water for local communities, establishment of health centres and cottage hospitals, provision of free agricultural extension services to the host communities, among others.
In 2021, Zenith Bank’s total CSR investment was N4.37billion, representing 1.79 per cent of its profit after tax and 33.1 per cent increase from 2020. Zenith Bank has remained one of the biggest spenders on social investment in the Nigerian corporate space. The focus areas of its CSR endeavours during the year mirror the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and include security, health care, education and skills development, sports development, youth and women empowerment, and public infrastructure development. Promoting the security of life and property has remained a significant social investment of the bank under Onyeagwu.