Ladies and gentlemen, it is with a heavy heart and great pride that I announce my retirement as Ecobank Group CEO. Having reached the company’s mandatory retirement age of 60 last month, I retire from the Group on 30 June, 2015. This follows 15 months as Chief Executive and 25 rewarding years altogether with the institution.
In this farewell message to you, dear shareholders, and to all my Ecobank colleagues, I would like to first thank Ecobank’s founding fathers for laying the foundations of this great institution 30 years ago. It was their amazing vision, hard work, fortitude of character and perseverance that made it possible to set up Ecobank against all odds.
The second part of my tribute goes to all former CEO’s and the management teams that have led Ecobank throughout its history. These men and women understood the challenges of keeping Ecobank going and growing.
Sometimes, they faced daunting challenges. But they soldiered on, strategising accordingly. They kept the number of affiliates growing across the African continent, or “Middle Africa” as we term our preferred theatre of operation, to the remarkable figure of 36 today with 1,200 branches.
I think it is sometimes easy for people to think of CEOs and the top tier of management and board members, as privileged individuals with cushy jobs. The truth, however, is that most of these people make many personal sacrifices, including spending less time with their families, in order to put in the long hours required to keep an organisation like ours running smoothly. I would also like to thank our new chairman, Emmanuel Ikazoboh and the board of directors for the commendable leadership they have displayed.
Last but not least, I would also like to thank all Ecobank staff members in all the countries in which we operate for their sterling contribution in making Ecobank what it is today: a proudly pan-African bank formed and developed by Africans. Ladies and gentleman, my own personal journey with Ecobank has been a fascinating and rewarding experience. As I said, I joined Ecobank 25 years ago as a relationship officer at Ecobank Ghana.
I rose through the ranks until I became Group CEO in 2014.
With all modesty, as far as I know, I am the only person who rose to the level of Group CEO at Ecobank, after having started at such a relatively junior level. That, ladies and gentlemen, should be a testament to the fact that it is possible for anyone at Ecobank to rise to the highest office in the institution. Ecobank is an equal opportunity institution that rewards hardworking people committed to its principles.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you have already been made aware, my successor will be Mr Ade Ayeyemi. He will become Ecobank Group Chief Executive Officer with effect from the 1st of September 2015. I consider Mr Ayeyemi a personal friend, and I wish him every success in the role of developing Ecobank to the next level of excellence as a world-class pan-African bank. I would like to think that a hundred years from now, a much-evolved Ecobank will still be in existence, perhaps working in different ways, but for the benefit of Africa, because it is important that the bank never lose its pan-African identity. I shall forever cherish the memory of being part of the Ecobank family.