The 1984 alumni and pioneer set of CitiBank Nigeria held a private dinner in Ikoyi Lagos at the weekend to celebrate one of their own, Dr. Olayemi Cardoso on his appointment as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Cardoso served as Chairman of the bank for 12 years and retired last year.
At the time the accountant and economist joined the renowned CitiBank, it was the largest financial services organisation in the world.
Cardoso went through the Citibank Credit training programme in Athens, Greece and was subsequently mobilised to CitiBank in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire in 1982.
In 1984 when CitiBank obtained a licence to operate as a full fledged commercial bank in Nigeria, Cardoso seized the opportunity to rejoin the bank as a founding staff, assuming the role of Head of World Corporate Group responsible for managing crucial global relationships.
In 1988, Cardoso was entrusted with the responsibility of setting up CitiBank’s first branch outside Lagos, in Kano. From Kano, he spearheaded the bank’s endeavours across the northern states, making significant growth and success from where he attained the position of Vice President, holding one of the highest ranking positions in Nigeria at the time.
In 2007, Cardoso was selected to chair the audit committee of the board at CitiBank when he transitioned to board member and subsequently chairman of the board.
Other pioneer team members of CitiBank include top industry players such as Mrs. Funke Osibodu, who became Managing Director of Ecobank and later Group Managing Director of Union Bank; Mr. Jubril Aku, who also took the reigns as Managing Director at EcoBank; Mr. Olukayode Pitan, the outgoing Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, who was also Managing Director at NAL Bank; and Mr Ben Akabueze, who had an impressive public service career as Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, and later Director General of the Budget Office.
In addition to anchoring Cardoso’s career and professional foundation, it was at Citibank that he paired with his life partner, the then Bimbo Benson (daughter of Nigeria’s first Minister of Information, Broadcasting and Culture of independent Nigeria, Chief T. O. S. Benson), who was also one of CitiBank’s class of 1984 pioneers but gave up her promising career to build a family.
The Cardoso and Benson union, which happened during their CitiBank years about 40 years ago, is blessed with five children and three grandchildren.
At the alumni dinner, his colleagues presented a thoughtful gift to the CBN Governor – a bull money box to symbolise the money box of Nigeria in Cardoso’s hands and reign.
Words of praise and well wishes flowed at the dinner for Cardoso that the foreign exchange and money markets may be bullish during his reign; that the Nigerian economy will strengthen; and that investor confidence and optimism be strong and restored under his charge.
The proud audience raised a toast and prayed for positive indicators and change for the new CBN Governor, one of many distinguished alumni that the bank has produced.