100 Years and Counting…
Our journey started in 1917. In the last 100 years, we have served customers across nooks and crannies of Nigeria; from Awka to Jalingo, Ogbomoso to Langtang, we have been there helping individuals and communities. We have evolved from being a Big, Strong, Reliable bank to become your Simpler, Smarter bank.
Come with us, as we celebrate our 100 year anniversary. Celebrating a 100 years of heritage reliability and growth but above all, 100 years of providing quality service.Here’s a toast to the past 100 years as we look forward to the next 100.
Discover the Decades
Key milestones over the years
Colonial Bank starts operations in the Nigerian capital of Lagos, a coastal city of 98,000 residents, to cater to the needs of the government and the merchant companies of the day.
Barclays Bank acquires Colonial Bank changing the bank’s name to Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) with 9 branches across Nigeria.
“The secret of getting ahead, is getting started.” Mark Twain, Writer
The 1922 constitution provided Nigerians the chance to elect a few representatives to the Legislative Council. Government House Lagos was the seat of colonial power in this era and was located in the Marina area of Lagos Island.
The radical women of Aba resist the policies of the colonial era with their historic march against the taxes of 1929; a feat for which they would never be forgotten.
Barclays Bank establishes its presence further north, in the mineral rich town of Jos, in present day Plateau State.
“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.” Chinua Achebe, Novelist, Professor
Barclays Bank DCO spread its operations to the south of Nigeria including the town of Burutu, which lay on the coast of the Niger Delta.
The Ogutas remain ever proud of their famous Owu masquerade. The Oguta area was considered by the Europeans to be one of the richest parts of colonial Nigeria and enjoyed special attention from the business community.
As it continued to stabilize, Barclays Bank began employing Nigerians into more senior roles across the country.
“Those who desire to reach and keep their places at the top in any calling must be prepared to do so the hard way.” Obafemi Awolowo, Statesman
After the cessation of the second world war, trade opportunities began to emerge in the budding Nigerian state. The Lagos branch of Colonial Bank was well positioned as a facilitator and supporter of international trade.
As the economy of Nigeria began to thrive, the need for excellent banking services across the country led to even further expansion into cities like Port Harcourt where customer service was always considered priority at Barclays.
As Lagos Island established itself as Nigeria’s commercial nerve center, the Obun Eko Street branch of Barclays Bank was opened to deliver top notch, quality service to corporate Nigeria.
“There is plenty of room at the top because very few people care to travel beyond the average route” Nnamdi Azikiwe, Statesman
Kano’s calabash carvers were thriving in the 50s. By serving them effectively Barclays Bank became a major stakeholder in their businesses with many other artists becoming customers of the Northern branches of the Bank.
With Nigeria’s newly declared independence came new promise for the country. Barclays Bank ushered in new promise of its own with the opening of its 40, Marina Street Head Office to oversee operations across its 39 branches nationwide.
Ile-Ife, the cradle of civilization and a University town, welcomed modern banking services with the opening of the Barclays Bank branch in the town.
“Today is Independence Day… At last our great day has arrived, and Nigeria is now indeed an independent, sovereign nation.” Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister
Nigeria Airways, the national carrier of post-colonial Nigeria, commenced operations as one of the biggest promises of the freedom era. Impressive changes were in the making and the banking sector, including Barclays, was there to help drive them.
A new era was born when Barclays Bank DCO was renamed Barclays Bank of Nigeria Limited following the enactment of the Companies Act of 1968, allowing even more Nigerians to take on strategic roles in the bank nationwide.
On January 1, 1973, the Naira became the legal tender of Nigeria, replacing the British Pound at a rate of 2 Naira to the Pound.
“Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.” Christina Baldwin, Writer
The Bank was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1971. The government of Nigeria acquired a stake in the bank and it became a wholly Nigerian-owned bank.
We are Big, Strong, Reliable. 1979 marked a decade of glorious indigenous promotion that saw Barclays Bank of Nigeria go public and on March 12, 1979 it changed its name to Union Bank of Nigeria.
Professor Akinwande Oluwole Soyinka makes history and becomes the first African playwright to win the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature; a testament to Nigerian’s global ascendancy on the international front.
“The sun never set on so great a human achievement.” Nelson Mandela, Statesman
Union Bank played an active role as a socially responsible corporate organization, supporting many initiatives benefiting Nigerians including the Sickle Cell Project of 1983.
The Federal Government of Nigeria divested its controlling shares in the bank and Union Bank became fully privately owned by Nigerian citizens and organizations.
The resounding success of the Super Eagles in the 1996 Olympics expressed the Nigerian spirit of resilience, dedication and hope, making the impossible possible.
“Many times elevation requires separation” Author unknown
Union Bank redefined flexible banking by extending cash withdrawal services to its customers beyond the banking halls with the introduction of its first Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in 1995.
In line with the CBN’s consolidation policy in 2015, Union Bank acquired the former Universal Trust Bank and Broad Bank.
Union Bank received a number of awards in recognition of its work with SMEs and in Agriculture including 'Best Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund' (ACGSF) and Best SMEEIS Support Bank by the CBN.
"The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” Socrates, Philosopher
Union Bank also absorbed its erstwhile subsidiary, Union Merchant Bank, and increased its shareholders' funds through a Public Offer/Rights Issue in 2005.
The banking crisis of this era led to the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2009. Union Bank was later recapitalized in 2012 with an injection of funds from both local and international investors.
As a reflection of its transformation, Union Bank unveiled its re-energized brand identity in 2015 which later won two International Awards at the 2016 Transform Awards MENA.
“The hardship that I encountered in the past will help me succeed in the future.” Philip Emeagwali, Computer Scientist
Union Bank began a transformation journey in 2014 with a commitment to improve the quality of its customer service, talent, banking platforms, professional standards, client base and earnings.
Union Bank marks 100 years of committed service to Nigerians; and we begin again, building our legacy for the future as a bank committed to developing smarter solutions that make banking simpler for our customers across Nigeria.
"Our award winning identity reflects our new proposition to make banking simpler and smarter for our customers." Emeka Emuwa, Chief Executive Officer, Union Bank
Projects we are involved with to mark our centenary.
As part of our 100th year celebrations, we are launching the Union Bank Centenary Art Challenge. We have partnered with the Guild of Professional Artists of Nigeria and One Draw, a competitive platform for artists across the country, to engage the Nigerian creative community, particularly undergraduates and professional artists to deliver their unique version of our iconic stallion.
In celebration of 100 years of heritage & service, Union Bank is running a Centenary Innovation Challenge to find and support great ideas that address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in entrepreneurial ways. We are looking for your innovative ideas to address the biggest problems affecting how people live, work, socialise and do business in Nigeria. In particular, we are looking for great ideas that improve financial inclusion, agriculture and education of Nigerians.
What’s on in 2017