Recently described as one of the most investigated public figures, Yewande Sadiku has gone from just being a public servant doing her job, to one of the most popular Nigerian investment banker and public servant. Within the last five years serving as the Executive Secretary/CEO of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), she has had to answer summons from major investigative bodies in Nigeria, in response to petitions from different corners.
Recently, she has also had to answer questions about several allegations against her. Many are, therefore, curious about Yewande Sadiku and what she represents.
Yewande Sadiku was born on July 27, 1972, and spent some of her early years in Zaria. She had her secondary school education in Lagos and proceeded to the University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria to bag a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Chemistry in 1992. By 1995, she had obtained her Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.
Sadiku was recruited straight from the university during the on-campus recruitment at the University of Benin and joined Nigeria International Bank Limited (now known as Citibank Nigeria) at the entry-level immediately after school. In 1994, she moved over to Investment Banking & Trust Company Limited (IBTC) also at entry-level, and she spent the next two decades of her career there as an investment banker.
Sometime in the course of her career, she also did some freelance writing for the Economist Intelligence Unit, Nigeria Country Report and Country Finance between 1999 and 2000.
At IBTC, she handled and was a part of major mergers and restructuring by corporate firms and multinationals in Nigeria. She also handled trillions of Naira in long-term debt and equity financing across various sectors of the economy. The $535 million first dual listing of a Nigerian company (Seplat) on the London and Nigerian Stock Exchanges in 2014; the $13.5 billion merger of Benue Cement Company with Dangote Cement which birthed the largest listed company on the NSE in 2010; the largest private placement in Nigeria – MTN Nigeria, 2008 are some of the deals she took part in.
She rose through the ranks working with the bank till when it became the Stanbic IBTC Group, and she became the Chief Executive of Stanbic IBTC Capital, the Group’s investment banking arm, in November 2012. She also served as Executive Director, Corporate and Investment Banking at Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, a subsidiary of Standard Bank of South Africa, Africa’s biggest bank before going into public service.
She was instrumental to the development of the Nigerian capital market, as she chaired the Rules and Compliance Sub-Committee of SEC’s Capital Markets Committee for about 12 years. The body advises SEC on the rules that guide the operation of Nigeria’s Investments and Securities Act. She was also one of the 15 members of the SEC Technical Committee on Capital Market Structures and Processes, which was mandated to make recommendations on the operational efficiency of the Nigerian capital market in 2009, in response to the effect of the global financial crisis.
Her successful career in investment banking was a critical factor considered when President Muhammadu Buhari appointed her as Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria’s foremost investment promotion agency, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), in September 2016.
Leaving a high-paying job as an investment banker to honour an appointment from the Federal Government could only have been born of a strong desire to serve, especially since it resulted in a massive pay-cut for her.
Over the last five years as a public servant, Sadiku has completely altered both processes and results in the agency. Some of her achievements include publishing the Compendium of Investment Incentives in Nigeria, bringing all the duly approved tax incentives into one document, and developing a clear strategy to encourage, promote and coordinate investments in Nigeria.
In 2017, she also developed a daily “Invest in Nigeria” intelligence e-newsletter, which showcases investment opportunities, economic news and investor testimonials into a quarterly Report of Investment Announcements which gives a sense of investor interest in Nigeria. Sadiku reformed the Pioneer Status Incentive (PSI) scheme, bringing in new industries and allowing for faster application review and reclassification based on International Standard Industrial Classification.
Overall, her tenure has been rated to improve transparency in the agency, and the NIPC ranking in accountability lists has greatly improved. Information that some other public agencies might keep classified are made available on the NIPC website.
Controversy and allegations
In spite of her visible results at the NIPC, Yewande has recently had petitions to answer. Reports say that she was invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to answer questions bordering on alleged abuse of office, contract fraud and allowances unaccounted for.
The statement released by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) in reaction to this development, revealed that the petitions against her had been previously investigated by other anti-corruption agencies and she was found not to have any case to answer.
“The petitions being investigated by EFCC contain issues that have been investigated by other anti-corruption agencies, none of whom has indicated that she has any case to answer,” the statement added.
Reports say that Sadiku has a bone to pick with some aggrieved board members in her organisation who “are displeased with Ms Sadiku for insisting on due process and accountability in the running of the agency” and have repeatedly accused her of wrongdoing, duplicating petitions to several investigative agencies and the presidency.
A special investigative report from Premium Times said that the documents reviewed and information obtained from insiders confirm that there are no irregularities nor financial misappropriation like the petitioners would want the public to believe.
The report revealed that “the attacks on her and her administration remained unceasing, giving credence to claims by those who described her as a “reform champion facing resistance from her staff, board members and other interests who are stuck in crooked old ways.”
The EFCC investigations and questioning are still ongoing, although the statement from NIPC says that “the petitions being investigated by EFCC contain issues that have been investigated by other anti-corruption agencies, none of whom has indicated that she has any case to answer.”
Chidi Odinkalu, a former chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, tweeted on August 9, in reaction to Ms Sadiku’s interrogation by the EFCC. “Yewande Sadiku is one of the most credible and honest public servants I have met in Nigeria. @officialEFCC is demonstrably backing up the wrong tree on this one. They only embarrass themselves with this clear abuse of power.”
Though eligible for a second term, it does not appear as though Yewande would be willing to hold the position for another five years given how much trouble she has had for her efforts.
Yewande Sadiku has received several recognitions for her contributions to different sectors and her outstanding leadership qualities.
She was listed among 35 International Women Under 35 in the World Business Magazine in 2007. The City of St. Louis bestowed her with an Honorary Citizenship and presented her with Civic Leadership, in appreciation of her leadership qualities. She has also received the Eisenhower Fellowship for International Leadership in 2010.
She has given lectures at the TEDxLagos (2013) as well as the Ausso Leadership Academy (2019).
Sadiku has an interest in the Nigerian film industry as well, and she raised funding for the $8 million film adaption of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-selling novel – Half of a Yellow Sun (2014) – a full feature film. The movie featured on the official selection of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where it first premiered.