Bisi Onasanya: Quintessential Success Driver

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By Eric Elezuo

The great financial brain, who is better known Bisi Onasanya was born Olabisi Stephen Onasanya, on August 18, 1961 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

He hails from the Onasanya Family in Ijebu Land, Ogun State, but grew up in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos.

Bisi, as he is popularly called, attended St Paul’s Anglican Primary School (Mushin), Eko Boys High School (Mushin), and the then Lagos State College of Science and Technology. A product of a polygamist home, he is the eldest of four children from his mother, and the third of his father’s children.

Mr. Onasanya qualified as a chartered accountant at the age of 22, and is credited with pioneering initiatives in Nigeria’s nascent pension custody industry that helped define best industry practices.

He began his career with Arthur Young, an American audit firm, and grew by the ranks to become the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of First Pension Custodian, an outfit he served for three years, between October 2005 and December 2008, before hitting the peak of his career as the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Limited. A position he held till 2015.

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At First Bank Nigeria Limited where he held diverse portfolios before his appointment as Group Managing Director, he coordinated the bank’s Century 2 Enterprise Transformation Project, widely acknowledged as one of the most important phases of the bank’s early transformation initiatives in response to an increasingly competitive financial services landscape.

A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, a Member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, and an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Taxation, Onasanya has meticulously served as a member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers’ Sub-Committee on Fiscal & Monetary Policies, and of the Presidential Committee on Reduction of Interest Rates.

Mr. Onasanya was not only with the First Bank. He had a professional encounter with Wema Bank as a senior accountant in 1985, and over the nine years he worked with the bank, he rose to become Head of Accounts.

Foresighte and fully envisioned, Onasanya ran First Pension Custodian,which was incorporated by the First Bank Group in response to reforms to the Nigerian pension industry which saw the actuarial system move from a “defined benefit” to a “defined contribution” basis. He took First Pension Custodian from the application stage, through authorisation by the industry regulator, and thereafter, successfully established it as the sector leader in the Nigerian pension custody market.

With solid administrative base coupled with superior wisdom, he led the company to break even with almost N400 billion pension assets under management by the time he left office in 2008. It was therefore, not in doubt where his next port of call will be.

Mr. Onasanya spent a fruitful 21 years with First Bank of Nigeria Limited until his retirement in December 2015. This is excluding the three initiating years when he helped set up First Pension Custodian.

His ability from the moment he joined First Bank as a Senior Manager in 1994, saw him maturing into other several positions in the Bank, including that of Group Head, Finance and Performance Management Department.

After his glorious spell as Chief Executive at First Pension Custodian, he returned to First Bank as an Executive Director, Banking Operations & Services, from where he rose to become Chief Executive Officer, the position he held until his retirement.

Bisi retired as Group Managing Director/CEO, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, on December 31, 2015.

Besides being a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, he is also a member, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria as well as the Nigeria Institute of Taxation.

The Ijebu born topflight banker is highly regarded in the banking industry as the architect of the new First Bank that is now appealing to not only young and old customers, but also the staff and management.

Mr. Onasanya today is a man of means having acquired wealth in markedly different tradition from the ways of his peers. While too many of his peers, gained from their wealth the fear of law enforcement agencies and losing it, the former bank chief gained from his wealth, comfort, contentment and a deep sense of purpose.
He was a man, who understood quite early in life, that nothing is black where it shines. That is why his life is radiant with light.

According to  report on his opulence, “While he served as MD of First Bank, Onasanya worked very hard and saved very hard. Today, he is reaping the fruit of his labour. Indeed, Bisi is one very sharp dude who planned his retirement very well. Findings revealed that he is most likely the richest retired bank chief in the country, considering his extensive fortune and business interests.

“Besides being intimidating solvent, he lives a charmed life. No sooner did he retire from First Bank than he relocated from his Ikoyi residence to a sprawling mansion on Banana Island, in Lagos. At his new mansion, he has on display, the choicest and most expensive automobiles.

“He owns a massive farm in Epe/Lekki axis of Lagos State as well as impressive stakes in the coastal city’s real estate sector. This includes posh apartments in the most exclusive and highbrow areas of Lekki.

He is not known to be selfish as he has helped a lot of Nigerian magnates to stand on their on their own. For instance, it was during his tenure as MD of First Bank that the bank lent out money to the highest number of people. Thus many businessmen made their fortune via his very accommodating loan schemes.

Married to Helen Omowunmi Onasanya in 1985, the couple is blessed with three prolific children. Mr. Onasanya’s likeable personality qualifies him as our Boss of the Week. Congrats sir!

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