TOP 10 PERCEPTION MANAGERS 2024

Introduction

Civil servants and Public Relations Officers (PRO) – or Public Relations Managers – are two of a kind. They are both employees who are hired for pay; they are professionals in their own right; they are expected to be 100 percent loyal to their employers or principals come rain, come shine. But that is about where the similarities between civil servants and PROs end.

To the civil servant, the employer or principal is singularly the government. To the PRO – these days, they come under different nomenclatures – corporate affairs manager; head corporate affairs; head, corporate communications; director, corporate communications; manager, external relations; manger,external affairs; image makers; spokespersons, etc – the employer or principal could be anybody or organization (individual, government, non-government, company, institutions, political parties, name them).

But what really sets these two sets of professionals apart is their contrasting ethical requirement concerning how they relate with the public. Civil servants are forbidden, sometimes under oath, to talk to the public concerning their work and their employer or principal. That is what is meant by the saying that “the civil servant is to be seen and not heard.” They are, however, free to talk about themselves if they feel like. The case with the PRO, or whichever title you give him, is the exact opposite. He is hired and paid to talk for and about his employer or principal – what the principal thinks, feels, sees or does – with a caveat: that everything the spokesman sees or says about his principal must be positive. The image maker is not expected to talk about himself or build his image beyond a fine and pleasant appearance.

By whatever name they are called, the job description of PROs is essentially the same. Not only do they play a major role in creating positive public perception of the people or organizations they work for, above all, they manage that perception in a manner that would bring sympathy, goodwill and support for their principals.

Their role is that of the meteorologist who predicts the weather and advises the organization on whether or not rain would have any negative impact on the organization; whether or not there would be need for an umbrella, or whether attention should be focused on preventing the rain from falling.

In the early days of the Public Relations profession, it was common and acceptable to call the practitioners image makers. But that name was misconstrued by the public. They were sometimes perceived as people who could lie to cover up truths about their principals in order to maintain a positive image. It didn’t help matters that in some cases, their employers actually expected them to do just that.

But a perception manager worth his salt knows that the job is not about deceit or lies, nor is it propaganda. It’s about designing appropriate communications and deploying the relevant platforms, tools and activities to deliver those communications to the organization’s publics with the objective of creating a positive perception for it. The job does not end there.

The most difficult aspect of the job, perhaps, is to manage the positive perception so created, to ensure nothing untoward happens, through a slip that could come through an unforeseen development within or outside the organization; a policy gone awry; a scandal involving even one of the organization’s leaders; a labour crisis, or an adverse effect from the organization’s product (if it is a manufacturing organization).

The job of a perception manager looks glamourous, but is anything but glamourous. It is probably the most difficult job in the organization, perhaps second only to that of the chief executive officer on whose shoulders the survival of the organization rests.

The perception manager must be the organization he represents. He must own the organization; go to sleep and wake up thinking about the organization, always having it at the back of his mind the fact that a problem could occur anywhere concerning the organization – a problem he did not cause, but which he would be expected to solve. He must have every fact about the organization at his fingertips – its history, mission, vision, philosophy, culture, systems and processes. He must have firsthand knowledge of the workings and operations of every department and unit of the organization. He has no holiday, even when his superiors are on holiday.

A perception manager must love with passion everything about the organization – its products or services, its people, etc., and must be prepared to demonstrate that love publicly.

One of the reasons a perception manager in one of the brewing giants in Nigeria lost his job some years ago was his public display of dislike for alcohol at a function that had the organization’s bigwigs in attendance. The top shots could not understand how an employee who was hired to promote consumption of the organization’s products, which include alcoholic beverages, could reject the same alcoholic product at a function that also had members of the public in attendance opting, instead, for a non-alcoholic beverage. How would he encourage people to consume what he did not consume? It’s like seeing someone whose job entails promotion of a cigarette brand publicly showing his dislike for smoking.

An example of the difficulty of the job of a perception manager lies in the fact that it can bring him on collision course with his employers on matters of professionalism. This occurs when he may be forced to choose between being a professional and losing his job, or compromising on ethics and keeping the job.

In the early 1980s, a public relations adviser of the UAC Group, the late IkhazYakubu, had cause to disagree with the foreign directors of the company on an issue that involved his integrity and that of the company, insisting on being the thorough-bred professional that he was and risking losing his job in the process.

An industrial accident had occurred at a factory of one of the group’s subsidiaries in which a worker lost his job. Yakubu was immediately summoned to the London headquarters of UAC where he was instructed to do everything humanly possible to ensure the story did not appear in the newspapers. But he would have none of that.

He did the unexpected by returning to Nigeria to organize a press conference where he announced the death of the employee. But he used the occasion to paint a picture of a responsible organization where workplace safety was a top priority, but where an employee died because he ignored safety rules and guidelines put in place by the organization.

Yakubu drew the public’s attention to the fact that not only was the late employee not supposed to be at the place he was at that time, but was also not kitted in the safety gear expected to be worn by anyone that happened to be in that area, which was clearly indicated in diagrams in strategic places.

The story that appeared in the newspapers the following morning was that of an employee who died out of sheer carelessness, despite the company’s meticulous effort at maintaining workplace safety. The story won for UAC the sympathy, goodwill and support of the public which saw it as an organization that cared about environmental safety and the protection of its employees. It earned for Yakubu a promotion, instead of the potential sack he faced for disobeying his superiors.

In deciding to ignore the directive of the organization’s owners in the United Kingdom and uphold his professional ethics, Yakubu thought about the incalculable and long term damage a distorted version of the incident could do to the image of the organization if it leaked out in the media, as it was certain to happen. None of those who asked him to “kill” the story thought about that.

Another area in which the job of a perception manager is a difficult one is where the nomenclature arrangement places him where he has no access to the chief executive officer of the organization; where he has little or no direct input into policies that affect the organization’s image and reputation. Such arrangements are common in organizations where the reputation manager reports to the marketing director. Relations between the two are not usually the best.

The marketing director is concerned only about sales figures, and sometimes may not understand the huge communications budgets the perception manager comes up with, completely oblivious of the relationship between public perception of the organization and sales figures that come in from the field.

The ideal arrangement is for the man or woman who is responsible for managing an organization’s reputation to have direct access to the chief executive officer who may have no difficulty understanding where the former is coming from and where he or she is going. He is a personification of the organization and is, therefore, as interested in its public perception as he is in its profitability, knowing full well that the latter depends almost entirely on the former.

Today’s perception manager is better placed to perform a notch higher than his counterpart of, say, 30 years ago. This is because many organizations, as can be seen in the job titles of the practitioners showcased here, now combine the marketing and public communications functions under one unit, department or directorate.  Also the modern public communications professional has access to two very important instruments of public relations his predecessors did not have – technology and social media. Not only do the two instruments enable him to stay in touch and abreast of developments as they occur in the industry in which he operates in particular and the entire world in general, almost real time, he is also able to reach out to his publics in terms of relevant communication when it matters most – at the touch of the button. Most importantly, technology and social media allow for easier research and the perfect working of the feedback mechanism of public relations.

Nigeria’s perception managers of today are highly educated, with access to all instruments of learning in this age of the internet, when learning of any kind is available online; when you do not need to be in a physical classroom to learn. They constantly train and retrain for their personal development, to be able to raise their standard of performance in the discharge of their responsibilities which are quite onerous.

We stated earlier that the job of the Public Relations professional is probably the most difficult job in the organization, perhaps second only to that of the chief executive officer. We also alluded to the personal sacrifices he makes and the risks his job is subjected to in order to create and maintain a positive reputation of his principal. Reference was also made to the professional ingenuity of some image makers and how changes in management philosophy, improvement in technology and emergence of the social media have driven many to the top of their game. Yet, we pointed out that these people are not expected to project their personal reputation beyond fine and pleasant physical appearances. So, how does the world know the wonderful job many of them are doing?

We believe it is the responsibility of the media through which public communications practitioners build the reputation of their principals to do that. That is the rationale behind the choice of the lead cover story for this edition of your favourite Top 10 Magazine. As a matter of fact, this is the third edition being devoted to this professional group in the magazines eight-year history. The first was published in 2016 under the headline “Top 10 Image Makers in Corporate Nigeria; the second in 2022, titled “Top 10 Exemplary Perception Managers in Corporate Nigeria.

The reasons for updating our focus on public communications professionals are not far-fetched. There are some who merited being featured in the previous editions but could not make it due to the limitation of the cutoff number. There were others who upped their games after the first two publications and there are new entrants who have taken the profession by storm. More practitioners may distinguish themselves with time. Then, there may be follow up editions devoted to them.

Meanwhile, enjoy this.

Reuben Muoka, Director of Public Affairs (NCC)

Reuben Muoka’s solid background in both mass communication and telecommunication makes him a perfect fit for the position he currently occupies as the Director of Public Affairs (DPA) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

An innovative journalist and consummate public relations practitioner, Muoka has brought his rich and versatile experience in both specialized and traditional journalism, public relations, integrated marketing communications (IMC), corporate communication and people management, to bear on the Commission’s vision to expand the frontiers of its public goodwill and the impact of its reputational assets.

A former Deputy Communications Editor of the Vanguard Newspapers, former Deputy General Manager at MTS First Wireless (Nigeria’s first mobile telephone operator), Muoka joined the NCC in 2007 as a Principal Manager, and was deployed to the Public Affairs Department where he headed the Media and Public Relations Unit. He later rose from the rank of Principal Manager to the position of an Assistant Director in 2010, and by 2015, as a Deputy Director, appointed to head the re-engineered Public Relations Unit of PAD. In 2017, he was redeployed to the Policy, Competition and Economic Analysis Department to head the Economic Analysis unit of the department.

Muokawas, in 2021, appointed as the head of the Special Duties Department, which superintends the International Relations Unit; Emergency Communication Centres Unit; the Public Private Partnership Unit; and the Security Services Unit of the Commission. He was promoted as Director of the Department before his current redeployment to lead the Public Affairs Department, the arm of the Commission mandated to manage the image and visibility of Nigeria’s telecom regulator and a leading light of the Nigerian public service.

In acknowledgement of his contributions to the building of the enviable reputation of NCC, Mouka was bestowed with the prestigious ‘Distinguished Spokesperson in Technology Award’ by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).

The NCC reputation manager graduated with an M.Sc. degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos, specialising in Public Relations and Advertising, after he had earlier successfully completed a Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) in the same field of Mass Communication. Much earlier, he had obtained a bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts at the University of Ilorin.

One of the highpoints of Mouka’s journalism career was the receipt of a fellowship of the Egyptian Embassy in Nigeria to undertake a Pan-African training and tour of Egypt in 1999, leading to an award of a continental Diploma Certificate in Journalism at the instance of the Egyptian Ministry of Information, and the African Journalists Union (AJU) in Cairo, Egypt.

Mouka was one of the visionary Nigerian journalists who provided focused, innovative and illuminating coverage and analysis of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the pre and immediate post liberalisation period of telecom industry in Nigeria. His pioneering initiative led to the establishment and institutionalisation of the Hi-Tech Desk in Vanguard Newspapers in late 1990s. As the Chairman of the League of Communications Correspondents (LECCO), Muoka led his colleagues to give voice and focus to the advocacy for the liberalisation and deregulation of the telecom industry in Nigeria in the 1990s.

During his active days in journalism at Vanguard Newspapers, Muoka served concurrently as Africa’s contributing editor to the London-based CommunicationsWeek for four years beginning from 1998, during which he undertook copious reportage of the African telecom landscape. The London-based magazine shared Muoka’s work to an enthusiastic global audience in a rare showcase of Africa’s promise as a flourishing point for the emergent converging telecommunications industry.

Between 1995 and 2001, Muoka leveraged his expertise to provide part-time public relations consultancy to notable companies and institutions in the telecommunications industry, including the Nigerian Mobile Communications Limited, Abuja; Multi-links Telecommunications Limited, Lagos; Satellite Telecommunications Limited, Lagos; Pulse Marketing Communications Ltd, Lagos; and the Nigerian Communications Commission, Abuja, years before he joined the Commission as a staff.

The NCC image maker is a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); a full member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (mnipr); and an associate member of the Registered Practitioners of Advertising (arpa), regulated by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).

CSC AbdullahiAliyuMaiwada, National Public Relations Officer, NCS

AbdullahiAliyuMaiwada, a Chief Superintendent of Customs (CSC), is a man who believes in developing his personal capacity to dominate his environment. This is evident in his career progression in the last 13 years.

Maiwada who joined the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education/Geography and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management must have expected a posting to one of the Customs’ schools to teach. He was posted, instead, to a public relations unit where he had a lengthy stint. Instead of feeling like fish out of water, as some others would do, Maiwada adapted to his assigned new role and started developing himself afresh academically and professionally in Public Relations. Today, he is on top of the game as the National Public Relations Officer (NPRO) of NCS.

Youthful, eloquent, charismatic, focused, methodical and intelligent, Maiwada has carved a niche for himself as a spokesperson par excellence. He knows his job very well, and carries it out very efficiently. He is abreast of what his job entails and has not relented in discharging it with professionalism and utmost diligence. Since his appointment as NPRO about a year ago, Maiwada has reinvented the job of speaking for the revenue-generating cum law-enforcement agency.

He has, with a profound sense of responsibility, always availed the general public of the strides of the Nigeria Customs, particularly in fighting smugglers, and other economic saboteurs. As the mouthpiece of the Customs Service, the NPRO projected the leadership philosophy of Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), the immediate-past Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) – who appointed him as the Customs’ spokesman.

Working under BashirAdewaleAdeniyi, the incumbent CGC, Maiwada has shown remarkable fidelity to advancing the good causes of his principal, the man who himself is the immediate past NPRO.

Adopting a beautifully-planned, portent and clear-cut information dissemination strategy, the Customs PRO, regularly intimates the media on how the BashirAdeniyi-led NCS management is helping to safeguard the Nigerian economy from criminal elements.

Last December, Maiwada emerged as the “Spokesperson of the Year” at the 2023 National Spokespersons Award ceremony, organized by the Image Merchants Promotion Limited. At the 2024 edition of the Awards held in Abuja on March 27, the Customs spokesman won the award, against all odds, for the second year running. These recognitions for someone who is barely a year old on the saddle as the NCS’ mouthpiece, clearly indicate promises of greater future on the job.

Maiwada began his academic life early at the New Campus Staff School, Bayero University, Kano, where he received both his Primary and Junior Secondary education. He concluded his Senior Secondary School Education at the Government Science Secondary School, Dutsin-Ma, in Katsina state.

He proceeded to study Education/Geography, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Education (B.Sc. (Edu) Geography) from the  Bayero University, Kano. He crowned his academic pursuit with a Master’s in Environmental Management from the same University.

The Customs’ NPRO also holds a Bachelor’s Degree and a Masters in Mass Communication from Crescent University, Abeokuta. He is currently a PhD student in Media Arts at the University of Abuja.

He was enlisted into the Nigeria Customs as Cadet ASC in 2011. After he was commissioned in 2012, the young Customs man was deployed to the Public Relations Unit, where he began his Public Relations career as Zonal PRO Nigeria Customs Service Zone ‘B’ Headquarters Kaduna from January 2013 to February 2017.

Considering his efficiency, he was found worthy and redeployed as the Public Relations Officer, NCS, Ogun Command from February 2017 to September 2020. That same year, he was redeployed as the pioneer Liaison Officer of Nigeria Customs Broadcasting Network (NCBN TV/Radio) and later became Deputy National Public Relations Officer from 2022 to 2023. He was confirmed as a substantive NPRO in April 2023, a position he holds to date.

To fully embrace the service of Public Relations and the dynamics it offers, Maiwada is a member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR). He also holds a full membership in the Association of Communication Scholars of Nigeria (ACSPN) and is also a member of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE). He is also a member of the Association of Media and Communication Researchers of Nigeria (AMCRON).

He has attended numerous courses relating to Customs Operations, Public Relations, Strategic Communication, and Leadership.

A consummate and seasoned Officer, he is a recipient of the 2020 World Customs Organisation (WCO) Meritorious Award. Also, under his watch, the Public Relations Unit of NCS recently received the WCO Meritorious Award during the 2024  International Customs Day Celebration (ICD).

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

Mrs. HakamaSidi 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.

Olufemi Soneye, Chief Corporate Communications Officer (NNPCL)

Managing the reputation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd), the largest oil company in Africa, is not a tea party. The task becomes even more challenging at the time the company is undergoing corporate renewal – converting from a government-owned corporation to a private commercial company. This reality is not lost on the management of the company. That is why the management searched for one of the best corporate communicators the profession had to offer to replace GarbaDeen Mohammad, NNPCL’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer (CCCO), who had just retired from services of the company.

They found one in OlufemiSoneye, a seasoned journalist with full-time and freelance experiences at some of the world’s most respected publications in Nigeria, Australia, and the United States of America. Until his appointment, Soneye was the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Per Second News from 2012 where he was responsible for the commercial strategy of the Per Second News, Communications and the Mount Olive group.

As the image maker of NNPC Ltd, Soneye has been developing and implementing communication strategies and plans; creating and managing content for various communication channels; monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of communication activities.

Soneye’s proven skills of excellent written and verbal communication traits as well as personal attributes, exceptional attention to details, ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines, strong interpersonal skills and ability to collaborate with others are his forte.

His incisive reports on the sector, particularly the activities of the NNPCL, have contributed to the overall communication effort by the NNPCL, thus providing Nigerians with clear insight into some developments in the NNPCL

The former President of the Nigerian Media Practitioners, Washington, D.C. whose appointment as NNPC Ltd’s CCCO became effective October 18, 2022, has been able to lead the Company’s Corporate Communications team, driving its brand penetration, strategic communications initiatives, and stakeholder management.

He has been very passionate about effective communication of the operations of the NNPCL to generate public confidence and trust in the entity. Little wonder, with only a few months in office, the impact of Soneye’s management of the reputation of NNPC Ltd has been acknowledged beyond the precincts of the company. Recently, he won the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) 2024 “Distinguished spokesperson in the Oil and Gas Sector award.” NIPR predicated the award on the “recognition of his amazing work of managing the image of Africa’s largest oil and gas company.”

Soneye who dedicated the award to “the whole team” said it would serve as motivation to continue striving for excellence in representing NNPC Ltd, the sector and upholding the highest standards of communications.”

 A cosmopolitan Nigerian of Ijebu, Ogun State extraction, Soneye has, over the years, built a network of friends across the socio-economic and political landscape of the country.

He graduated from the Mclay College, Sydney, NSW, Australia in 2000 and went on to acquire a Diploma in International Studies at the prestigious Montgomery College Rockville, Maryland, USA between 2005-2006.

Between 2008 and 2010, Soneye got certification in Health and Applied Sciences at the Community College of the Air Force. He has attended about 12 career advancement programmes including 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, UK in 2018; IAPP Data Protection Conference Paris, France (2018); Leadership, IP, and Innovation Conference, Brussels, Belgium (2018); Strategic Management in Public Service in IDKA, Italy (2014) and Strategic Intelligence Analytics, Canary Wharf, London among others.

Soneye’s career as a reporter started in 1999 at the Independent Sports Weekly, Apapa, Lagos, and later, Leaders Newspapers- Darling Harbor, Sydney, Australia, in 2000 where he worked part-time as a reporter. In 2007, Soneye worked as the Business Sales Manager of Comcast Cable Communications, Maryland, U.SA. and served in the United States Air Force, Joint Base Andrews, Washington-DC between 2009 to 2015. Specifically, he was at the Health Services Management Officer of the 459th Aerospace Medicine Squadron where he became the Editor of the squadron’s Air Force One Newsletter of the 459th Air Refueling Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, between 2009 and 2013 where he was providing guidelines to authors for preparing and submitting manuscripts.

Before relocating to Nigeria over a decade ago, he had produced articles and writings that were well-researched and informed, with the intention of bolstering corporate governance of government and private enterprises as well as companies, in order to improve their capacity to serve the public and remain solvent. These contributions aimed to promote nation-building and enhance the quality of good governance.

Back in Nigeria, Soneye engaged in investigative journalism, economic reporting, and maritime sector coverage. He has also provided coverage for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) prior to its transformation into a full-fledged CAMA company, and the maritime industry.

Soneye has also functioned as a media consultant for numerous institutions, corporations, and government entities, assisting them in the development of initiatives that bolster their capabilities to fulfil their mandates.

A foundation member of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers (GOCOP), Soneye is also a member of reputable professional bodies including the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the National Association of Black Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists.

Meksley Nwagboh, Chief Marketing Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc

Dr MeksleyNwagboh is the Chief Marketing Officer of Fidelity Bank plc, a leading Tier 1 bank in Nigeria. He is a seasoned marketing and communications professional with over 17 years of experience in banking, insurance, asset management, trust services, securities, private equity and venture capital.

Nwagboh is an accomplished, results-driven marketing and communications manager offering successful experience in driving market share, experiential marketing, brand recognition, and revenue improvements through strategic marketing initiatives and effective digital marketing plans.

Prior to joining Fidelity Bank in 2022, he had earlier worked with Guaranty Trust Bank as the Head of Corporate Communications before moving on to Coronation Merchant Bank in 2018 to oversee the marketing & communications of the bank. Since joining Fidelity Bank in 2022, Nwagbo has been responsible for the entire gamut of communication across the banking group; providing strategic direction, and overseeing the execution of initiatives covering stakeholder engagement, brand management, reputation management and market positioning.

He is also responsible for leading the function of translating and positioning the organizations’ corporate identity and messaging, developing and administering a comprehensive communication strategy to a multifaceted audience of investors, regulators, the media, corporate and retail clients.

He holds a Doctorate and Masters degree in Media & Communications from the prestigious Pan Atlantic University. He also holds a certification in Research Leadership from Birmingham City University, UK and is a member of several professional bodies such as the Advertisers Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and the Digital Marketing Institute, Ireland.

He is the author of the book ‘Building the Nigerian Dream’ and has published several academic articles on ethnic categorization and crisis communication in reputable international journals.

Fidelity Bank of Nigeria, whose reputation Nwagboh now manages, was incorporated in 1987 and began its operations in 1988. It initially started as a Merchant Bank.

The Bank converted to a commercial bank in 1999, in an attempt to grow, as a private limited company and became a Public Limited Company also in August 1999. It re-branded to Fidelity Bank Plc that year.

It secured its Universal Banking Licence in February 2001 and also obtained its International Banking Licence in 2011. Fidelity Bank of Nigeria has now grown to a stable banking institution. During the 2005 Nigeria Banking consolidation, Fidelity Bank acquired FSB International Bank Plc (“FSB”) and Manny Bank Plc to become one of the leading financially stable banks in Nigeria.

 Fidelity Bank currently has presence in all the states and major cities in Nigeria and the UK. Over the years, the bank has been reputed for its financial stability and integrity and continues to rank among Nigeria’s most capitalized banks, with tier-one capital of nearly USD1 billion (One Billion US Dollars).

Rasheed Bolarinwa, Head, Brand Management & Corporate Communications, Polaris Bank, and President of (ACAMB).

RasheedBolarinwa, Head, Brand Management & Corporate Communications, Polaris Bank, is also the President of the  Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB). He is one of Nigeria’s exciting and foremost award-winning marketing and corporate communications professional whose craft and charisma have positively influenced the fortunes of the profession and brands he has been associated with.

Bolarinwa is one of the few marketing communications (marcom) practitioners that have a good mix of the academia and foot-soldier experience in a field that has seen tremendous global growth, buoyed by the social media and increasing ability of the sector to safeguard reputations, support growth of brands and enhance thought leadership.

Bolarinwa’s over two decades and half marcom odyssey (post-qualification), has seen him apply his well-honed skills in journalism, public relations, marketing, corporate communications, strategic brand management, insurance, HR, consulting and banking. He is a thorough-bred communicator and a certified Integrated Marketing Communications Practitioner and brand management professional. He’s educated and holds two Master’s degrees spiced with further function-specific and leadership trainings in top class local and foreign institutions under his belt.

In an era where the industry is facing threatening headwinds from unschooled practitioners, pretenders and impostors, Bolarinwa has continued to uphold the tenets of best practice, and is driven by an uncompromising commitment to excellence and professionalism.

He is a member of the current Executive Committee of ACAMB holding the position of President (got re-elected recently) by his colleagues across 24 Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in Nigeria after a stellar 1st term ( as President) and earlier two term stint as a Secretary General.

In 2022, Bolarinwa was named the “Most Outstanding Public Relations Professional” at “Your Image Awards,” organized by PR Primus Limited in conjunction with the Ogun state chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR). In the award citation, Bolarinwa was described as “one of Nigeria’s sensational and award-winning Public Relations/Marketing and Corporate Communications professionals, whose craft and charisma have positively influenced the fortunes of the profession and the brands he has worked with over the years.” In Q1 of 2024, Osun State Chapter of Nigeria Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) recognised him as the ‘ Most Outstanding PR Practitioner of the Year’ for the courageous strategic public communications he spearheaded as President of ACAMB when the Emefiele’s CBN-induced Naira Redesign Policy inflicted unintended pains on Nigerians.

He is reputed for his deft handling of change management communication and is among few PR practitioners that have directly handled the transition and leadership change communication management of five CEOs in Nigeria’s financial sector (insurance & banking). His most cherished moment came in 2021 when he orchestrated what analysts described as the most impactful in-house executed PR campaign for VULTe, a digital bank by Polaris Bank that largely contributed to strong TOMA resulting in one million customer uptake within the space of four months of the product launch, a record in Nigeria’s digital banking space.

Also in 2022, the umbrella body of Bankers in Nigeria, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) appointed Bolarinwa to drive the visibility for the biggest gathering of Bankers and Finance stakeholders in Africa as Chairman, Media & Publicity, of the Consultative Committee of the 15th Annual Bankers & Finance Conference which took place in Abuja in September. He delivered on the task spectacularly.

A Fellow of the National Institute of Marketing in Nigeria (NIMN), the Polaris Bank spokesman belongs to premier  Institutes regulating PR and Marketing Communications sector in Nigeria and is indeed, a Member of NIPR, ARCON among other Professional Associations in Nigeria.

TOLU ALERO LADIPO, Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Uba Bank

The career success story of ToluAleroLadipo, Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications of UBA Group, serves as a reminder that gender should never be a barrier to achieving greatness.  With grace and determination, she has risen to the pinnacle of her marketing and corporate communications profession, serving in multinational corporations and celebrated internationally for her outstanding service.

Prior to joining UBA Group, she was the Executive Head, Marketing and Customer Experience at Old Mutual, the Nigerian subsidiary of Old Mutual Limited, the pan-African insurance and financial services group with presence in 13 African countries.

With a legal and Strategy background, AleroLadipo has built her extensive career in Marketing and Communication with over 20 years of experience in Strategy Development, Customer & Product Portfolio Management, Public & Media Relations, and Integrated Marketing, to mention but a few.

In addition to Old Mutual, she has, at various times, worked in some of Africa’s leading financial services providers, such as United Bank for Africa (UBA), Union Bank and Stanbic IBTC as well as Standard Bank in South Africa, leading marketing strategy for Pan-African Corporate, Commercial, Retail and Wealth businesses.

Having previously held a strategic position within the UBA Group, AleroLadipo ventured into the insurance world and took on the role of Chief Marketing Executive at Mutual Benefit. At Old Mutual, she was at the frontline of deepening marketing communications, stakeholder management, customer experience and market penetration for the brand in the Nigerian insurance market, which PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) 2015 survey showed lags behind other African economies with only 0.4 per cent coverage of Nigeria’s population, who are grappling with low product education and adoption.

With this and other findings in mind, AleroLadiporestrategised for Old Mutual to set the pace with customised solutions-driven digitalised products and services towards a refreshed approach to insurance market penetration.

This determined effort from AleroLadipo and her team led to the launch of Old Mutual Nigeria’s revamped, user-friendly and e-commerce website that allows customers access various products of their choice, engage with the brand, and make instant claims seamlessly.

However, recognizing the strength of the bond within the UBA Group and the opportunities it presented, AleroLadipo returned to take up the position of Group Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications.

AleroLadipo’s return to the big family of UBA Group in 2023 showcases the power of family and the value of expertise. Her strategic thinking and ability to connect with diverse audiences make her the perfect fit for leading the marketing and corporate communications efforts of the group. With her at the helm, UBA Group has commenced innovative campaigns, effective messaging, and a strong presence in the market. Since stepping into her new role, AleroLadipo has been making a significant impact on the marketing and corporate communications efforts by working to sustain and depeening the UBA Group’s high reputation standing in all aspects.

With her impressive credentials and extensive experience, she and her team are deploying their expertise in adding value to the group’s culture of reputation as an organization that distinguishes itself in the marketplace by combining first class products with superior customer service delivery to surpass customer expectations in a timely, consistent and professional manner. The Group’s products and services have been positioned in the financial marketplace as ones that create value via convenience and innovation to make life easier for the customer. UBA is a brand known for its international reputation of excellence as a result of its commitment to constant innovation as a means of enhancing the image of the brand. A legacy Alero and her team are working tirelessly to sustain.

Her expertise and dedication have been honed through her legal background, with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Northumbria and a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Trade from the University of Essex, both in the United Kingdom.

She was recognized and celebrated on the 2024 special International Women’s Week as one of the women who continue to pave the way for a more inclusive and equal society.

Femi Babafemi, Director, Media and Advocacy, NDLEA

One good measure of Femi Babafemi’s distinction as a corporate communications professional is the fact of his being the first and only spokesman of two federal law enforcement agencies at different times. You have to be really outstanding to earn that.

He first served as the Head of Media and Publicity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before his latest appointment by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as its Director of Media and Advocacy.

While in EFCC, he edited two official magazines of the Commission – Zero Tolerance and Milestone. He also served as the supervising producer of the Commission’s Radio and Television programmes called The Eagle. He has taken the same initiative to the NDLEA where he serves as Editor of the agency’s official magazine and Producer of its Television programme, NDLEA Today.

In his new role at NDLEA, Babafemi’s primary duty is the projection of the image of NDLEA and its leadership. He directly handles the agency’s relationship with the public and the media; develops and manages communication strategies that enhance better communications with the public, other organisations, policy makers and strategic stakeholders using various media platforms and public relations engagements.

Since his assumption of office, the NDLEA spokesman has been leveraging on his almost two-and-a-half decades of experience in journalism, media, and strategic communications to lead the publicity and advocacy campaigns of the agency as envisioned by its Chairman/Chief Executive, Brig. General Mohamed BubaMarwa (Retd). He has been projecting the sterling performances of NDLEA prominently in the media. These efforts have attracted commendations from governments of foreign countries and the agency’s strategic partners who have shown renewed trust in NDLEA in words and action. NDLEA has gained international recognition as a regional force in drug law enforcement and attracted partnerships from similar agencies around the world.

Babafemi holds a Master’s degree in Public and International Affairs from the University of Lagos and a Bachelor of Arts in English Language from the ObafemiAwolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife. Besides, he holds certificates in Computer-Assisted Research & Reporting (CARR), Panos Institute, USA & IJC, Lagos, 1999; Communication Strategies, Royal Institute of Public Administration (RIPA) London, 2008; Managing People For Strategic Advantage, Lagos Business School, Pan-African University, Lagos, 2009; and Effective Public Relations Planning, The Management School, London, 2011.

The NDLEA Director of Media and Advocacy has under his belt close to three decades post-graduation experience in Journalism, Media and Public Relations, Strategic Communication and Reputation Management

Babafemi started his career in the pen profession in the defunct National Concord in the 1980s. He joined The Sun in 2003 as a pioneer staff and left as Deputy News Editor in 2008 when he joined the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the agency’s Head of Media and Publicity. He returned to The Sun in April 2012 as an Assistant Editor and promoted Deputy Editor in June 2013. In January 2017, he was appointed the substantive Editor of Saturday Sun.

An author of two books and member, U.S-based Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), among others, Babafemi has attended various international conferences and seminars. They include the World Bank/United Nations Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, 2009; United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Conferences, New York, USA 2009, 2010 and 2011; International Anti-Corruption Conference, London, UK, 2010; and Commonwealth Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies Conference, Gaborone, Botswana, 2011.

Chioma Afe, Director, External Affairs and Sustainability, Seplat Energy

Chioma Yvonne Afe, Director, External Affairs and Sustainability, Seplat Energy, is one of Nigeria’s standout marketing and corporate communications professionals. A motivated, proactive, strategic thinker, business leader and digitally driven brand advocate, Afe is an accomplished strategic senior communications executive with over 25 years experience in developing and implementing high-impact communication strategies.

Her demonstrated record of success in this field has driven business growth, enhanced brand reputation and driven revenue growth. She is recognized as a self-motivated, passionate, dedicated, and proactive leader with a strong problem-solving mindset and an exceptional work ethic.

She joined Seplat Energy in June 2023 from the Access Bank Group, where she served in various capacities, leaving the organisation as group head of marketing and communications for the banking group. She was a member of the executive team, supervising corporate and retail communication teams across Nigeria and the African subsidiary markets. Her responsibilities then included oversight of a diverse team of creatives and content managers, brand and marketing strategists, online PR & email marketers and data analysts focused on supporting the achievement of the bank’s business ambition to be among the top five banks in Africa. She was responsible for marketing teams in Nigeria and across 12 African countries, utilizing various marketing communication tools to deliver on corporate brand awareness, product awareness, customer acquisition, engagement and retention goals for the business.

Before joining the Access Bank Group, Afe was the Divisional Head of Corporate Communications at Diamond Bank Plc. She had also worked at DSTV (MultiChoice Nigeria Ltd), Cadbury Mondeleez, Airtel, Coca-Cola Nigeria, British American Tobacco (BATN), Andersen and Tequila Nigeria Limited in various leadership and managerial capacities, both locally and across the African continent.

Her work experience spans brand management of various global brands including Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, Coca-Cola and Airtel, with deliverables that included design, development and execution of equity building and volume driving strategies as well as collaborating with the creative and entertainment industry.

At Seplat Energy, she is responsible for the strategic global positive reputation of the Seplat Brand as well as overall external relations and managing the corporate social performance strategies and initiatives.

Afe has an MBA from the Imperial College Business School, London, a Diploma in Marketing from the Institute of Direct Marketing London, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Port Harcourt.

She is a Board Member of Women in Management, Business & Public Service (WIMBIZ), and EXCO member of the Advertisers Association of Nigeria and a member of the National Marketing Institute of Nigeria.

She has attended several leadership and professional courses in the course of her career at various institutions including the Metropolitan Business School London, Wharton Business School-Pennsylvania and Lagos Business School. In 2022, she completed the MBA programme at the prestigious Imperial college Business school London.

In her private life Afe loves to read, travel and mentor young corporate women.

Babajide Sipe – Head, Marketing and Corporate Communications, Eco bank Nigeria Ltd

Ecobank Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of the Pan-African financial institution, Ecobank Group, believes that great visions attract the best people. One of the best hands the Nigerian franchise with a great vision attracted recently is Babajide Sipe, head of its Marketing and Corporate Communications department.

An experienced Marketing & Brand Manager, Sipe’s multi-faceted career, cuts across several fields, industries, and regions within the country and abroad. Sipe brought to Ecobank Nigeria his over 14 years’ experience in public relations, media & brand management, having built a reputation as a successful marketing communications expert. Over the course of his career, he has developed skills such as strategy development, project management, relationship management, research skills, strong communication and presentation skills, ability to multitask, interpersonal skills and strong analytical skills much of which have become invaluable for his job at the bank.

Since Sipe joined Ecobank Nigeria, he has, with the support and encouragement of the management, primed up the bank’s Marketing and Corporate Communications department to connect customers to greater value in banking and to ensure that the innovative products are effectively articulated to the public. Sipe has been projecting the bank’s digital capabilities and human capital with the goal of delivering optimum value for clients and shareholders across several value chains under a versatile and supportive management.

 It can be said that Ecobank Nigeria, has strongly positioned itself as a full-service financial institution providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals in Nigeria.

Sipe is also  helping to  build the bank’s reputation as a key stakeholder and supporter in the growth of the real sector of the Nigerian economy through several initiatives like the Ecobank Female Entrepreneurship Initiative (EFEI) targeted at boosting female entrepreneurship, amongst others.

Ecobank Nigeria is also projecting its reputation as a key driver of tourism, culture, and the creative industries in Nigeria. This resonates with its Pan African Bank’s policy of promoting art in the African continent. The bank recognizes the industry as an essential driver of economic growth, well-being, and global connectivity.

Ultimately, Ecobank’s goal is to remain the go-to bank for Pan-African trade facilitation and payments. This would mean leveraging the full value of its unrivalled Pan-African footprint covering 33 African countries to create greater market access and financing opportunities.

The Marketing and Corporate Communications department, under the leadership of Sipe, is leading the huge task of positioning the bank for the future. With the fine blend of experience, expertise, and cutting-edge solutions, growth seems certain, if not near.

Prior to joining Heirs Insurance, Sipe was a Manager at GTBank where he spent more than a decade. He covered the areas of Brand Management, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Media Relations, Products Promotions and Marketing. Before he left the bank, he managed the Experiential Marketing and Activations unit.

Remarkably, Jide joined GTBank in 2007 as an Executive Trainee and in 2009, he was responsible for organizing the launch for GTBank’s UK subsidiary and subsequently Liberia, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.

His role during the period also involved managing many CSR projects such as the Principal’s Cup, Autism Conference, Double Club Project with Prada Foundation, Yinka Shonibare’s “Ship in a Bottle” London exhibition, Swiss Red Cross and the Students in Free Enterprise (S.I.F.E) initiatives.

From 2011 to 2013, he was responsible for the Products Promotions and Marketing Team during which key products were created such as; GTCrea8, SME Markethub, Mobile Banking, Seniors Account & Platinum Banking.

Jide holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Lagos. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and Management from the University of London. Similarly, he attended Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University’s Executive Programme in Strategic Business Leadership. He is also an Associate Member, Nigerian Institute of Public Relations.