At that level, bank CEOs and the governor of the Central Bank are usually colleagues before one of them is elevated to head the apex bank. Was that not the case then?
We were friends, seemingly, but it doesn’t mean they like you. There is also competition.
What could have been the basis of the competition when the then CBN governor already left as the GMD of First Bank?
He (Sanusi) thought I wanted his job but I didn’t. I was offered the position, but I said no.
Why did you decline?
My husband was sick and I needed to be with him. That was the reason, and I didn’t think much about it anymore. Remember I said I was planning to retire in March of the following year to go and stay with my husband. When he (Sanusi) was appointed, I congratulated him. He even told me at that time they had not given him a letter and I told him not to worry that it would come. So, these are some of the things you live through that make you stronger. Sometimes you feel hit but you have to let go.
If you look back at all that happened, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
To be frank with you, I would say nothing. I did everything with my whole heart. I genuinely wanted to help people grow their businesses and a lot of people and businesses were empowered. We floated Econet, Oando, we built MMA2, Iba Expressway, we put guarantee down to build Toll Gate and the project at the Bar Beach. So, we did a lot under public-private partnership and I enjoyed it because I knew that if there were about three to four banks doing what we were doing at that time, Nigeria would have been industrialised by now. Look at Dangote at Obajana, we did (funded) it, and it was after we had finished that we began to sell the credit to other banks; the same with Econet, MMA2 and others. I enjoyed it all because we created real and sustainable value because those businesses are still there till today. Looking at individuals that also benefited from the bank, we assisted people like Dapo Abiodun, Jimoh Ibrahim, (Aliko) Dangote, etc.
Are you still in touch with them?
Yes, though they don’t call me; whether there is nothing to discuss, but I call them when I want to.
@ Punch Newspaper