TOP 10 PERCEPTION MANAGERS 2024 – Mrs. Hakama Sidi Ali

Mrs. Hakama Sidi Ali, Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Mrs. Hakama Sidi Ali, Director, Corporate Communications, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), is the first woman to be appointed to that position in the 66-year history of Nigeria’s apex bank. But she did not get there on account of filling the women’s quota on that seat, in the bank or in the corporate communications profession. She earned her elevation through appropriate professional grounding and hard work. In fact, before her latest promotion, Ali was a Deputy Director and the next in command to the immediate past occupant of that office.

It did not take her too long to prove her mettle and to demonstrate that what a man can do, a woman can do equally well, if not better. She assumed office when the Apex bank had yet to recover from the incalculable reputational challenges posed by the currency redesign and swap policy introduced by the then Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele, which caused a nationwide accute scarcity of the Naira and untold hardship for Nigerians in 2022.

As a well-grounded communications and PR expert, Ali knew she had her job cut out for her.  She did notallow the weight of the responsibility placed on her shoulders weigh her down; neither did she wallow in self-pity. She just summoned courage and hit the ground running.

The CBN spokesperson used every PR tool in the book to restore the confidence of Nigerians in the Bankers’ Bank. In just a few weeks in office, her well-oiled shuttle diplomacy, robust communication strategies and proactive media interventions helped to rebuild goodwill for and public confidence in CBN.

Then came the powerful rumour that the old Naira notes would cease to be legal tenders on December 31, 2023. To the public, what meant was that the country would be enmeshed in another cash scarcity crisis and suffering which could lead to a conflagration. But her timely, articulate, and well-written press statements successfully dispelled the rumour and doused the tension. Based on her proactive approach to public engagement, Nigerians didn’t see the need to hoard cash or get involved in any illegal practices ahead of the yuletide, which could have caused severe chaos.

Another of her timely press statements also announced that there was enough cash in circulation for Nigerians who required it before the holiday.

From experience, the CBN spokesperson knew that some unscrupulous people capitalize on the frenzy of business activities during the Christmas season to trade fake currencies and purchase food items in markets. As Nigerians headed towards that period in 2023, Ali rose to the occasion by taking proactive measures to save innocent traders from falling victim to the criminality. In her press statement, she warned banks and traders to double-check the currency notes that come to them to ensure they were not receiving fake ones.

The CBN image maker also took similar proactive steps to avert a run on banks and save Nigerians from becoming victims of bank failures like in the past when they lost billions of naira. When the rumour of the existence of distressed banks hit the media space recently, she delivered another lucid press statement affirming that Nigerian banks were solid, stable and very far from collapse. The assurance from her office helped to restore confidence in the country’s financial system and forestalled what could have been a panic-induced mass withdrawal of deposits by bank customers.

There is no doubt that, in less than two years on the saddle Ali has restored the image of the CBN as a responsible, responsive, and sensitive organisation that enjoys the confidence of the banking and general public.

Mrs. Ali is a 1992 graduate of the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), where she bagged a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication. She also has an MSc in Mass Communication and a PGDE in English Language.

A recognised member of the Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), the CBN’s reputation manager is also a member of other reputable professional bodies like the Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management (CILRM), Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPMN), Africa Development Studies Centre (ADSC), Toastmasters International, among others.