By Omoh Gabriel
The war against poverty has become global and every institution from the World Bank to micro finance are now involved. One of the federal government seven point agenda is poverty alleviation.
It has become a cardinal issue that the government set up the National Poverty Alleviation Programme. Banks in Nigeria are also getting involved in the war against poverty. One of the banks which in its own way is fighting the hydra headed monster is Diamond Bank through its several promotions.
Recently the bank introduced the salary for life promotion. Some of the winners have been removed from the poverty line.
So when Mrs. Cordelia Amadi lost her jobÂ in August, even the most persuasive of motivational speakers could not console her. Of course she knew that time would take care of everything.
But with kids to train, and extended family to help, no amount of persuasion could have healed the immediate wounds the trauma she went through inflicted on her. Even the comforting words of husband, who works with the mobile unit of the Nigeria Police, were not soothing enough for her. At a time her sister who lives with her became worried that she was losing much sleep over the situation.
It was not as if she did not believe things could get better. Of course, being a Christian she has learnt to worry less about tomorrow, to give thanks to God in every situation and to trust God for a better future. It was these Christian teachings that helped calm her frayed nerves.
And by the time her situation turned around two months later, she thought she was dreaming. Her heart was filled with joy and her songs of sorrow automatically became songs of joy.
Cordelia was working with Fin Property, the property arm of FinBank until August when the Central Bank of Nigeria announced that the bank and four others were in trouble and sacked their managements and appointed new ones. That action affected Fin Property with Cordelia and her colleagues asked to stop work.
â€œI was working with Fin Property, the property arm of Fin Bank, but in August when the banking sector crisis affected Fin Bank, we were asked to stop work. It was a sad moment for the familyâ€, she says.
And so in the midst of that misery came laughter and joy. Just two months later, in October, she received heart-warming news that she would be paid a handsome salary for life. Just like that! She would not need to do any other job to earn the salary.
She had already done every job needed for the salary three years earlier when she opened the Diamond XtraSavings account at the Nyanya, Abuja branch of the Bank. And so the salary she would earn for life is her reward for opening that account.
â€œ The news came on in the morning of October 13. But I did not understand what the person who called me was saying. I thought it was a joke. But since I was told to go to my branch, I said to myself, whatever it is, I will find outâ€, she says, â€œSo I went to my branch and they informed me that I emerged one of the winners of the Salary for Life star prize of the Diamond SavingsXtra promo.
The whole thing was surprising. I am still surprised. Of course I had faith that God would intervene in my life. I never knew, however, that it would be that quickâ€.
The Diamond SavingXtra promotion, according to the bankâ€™s group head, Product/Retail Brand Services, Mrs. Angela Okonmah, is all about appreciating our customers and also saying thank you to all of them for their loyalty.
Interestingly, Cordelia has always been sceptical about promotions. Even though she knew about the SavingsXtra promo, she never, in her wildest dreams, believed that people ever win prizes, let alone, herself. â€œ Yes I knew about the promo. I used to read about it in the newspapers. But I never believed people win the prizes they mention. But now, I believeâ€, she enthuses.
She says the news of the â€˜harvestâ€™ threw the family into a state of euphoria, with her husband broadcasting the news to every relative and friend who cared to listen. â€œAh! My husband was so happy. He even broadcast the news before meâ€, she says teasingly. â€œMy sister who was staying with us was also very happy. In fact she was even happier than me because she knew what we were passing throughâ€
Cordelia, who says she has become a Diamond Bank ambassador â€œfor life,â€ plans to invest a large chunk of her prize in something meaningful. â€œ I believe that God still wants us to live, hence we are this fortunate. So I plan to utilise the money very well. I will use 40 or 50 percent for family upkeep and save 60 or 50 percent, allow it to mature and invest it in, maybe, propertyâ€, she explains.
Just like Cordelia, Mrs. Grace Iloabuchi is still basking in excitement. She will also receive salary for life from Diamond Bank. For this former contract staff of Shell Petroleum Development Company, it was obedience to her husbandâ€™s instruction that brought her the fortune.
Her husband, who says he has been banking with Diamond Bank for almost two decades leant about the promotion and advised her to open a savings account with the bank and she obeyed. She is now reaping the fruits of that obedience. â€œI didnâ€™t know about the promo but my husband knew. So he instructed me to open a savings account with Diamond Bank and I obeyedâ€, Grace who now runs a supermarket in Port Harcourt says.
Not surprisingly, the highly elated Grace received the news of her hit with trepidation. Like Cordelia, she thought it was a joke. In fact, she even thought that scammers were at work. â€œIt was on September 10 towards afternoon that they called and informed me of the prize. At that time, I thought it was 419 but when I got to my branch at 222 Ikwerre Road everything became cleare.Â I did not know how I felt but I was so happyâ€, she discloses.
Interestingly, her husband and her friends also doubted the authenticity of the news. Like her, they thought scammers were at work. â€œ My husband has been excited though at first he thought it was 419. But since he knew about the promotion, he said it could be trueâ€, she says. â€œ My friends have been happy for me too. But at first, too, they all thought it was 419. Many of them said it is not today that they have been hearing this kind of thing. They said I should be careful before I will fall victim to 419 people. But now they have seen and they believeâ€
Indeed, Graceâ€™s husband, Jude has been very excited. To him, the prize was a reward for his loyalty to Diamond Bank. â€œI am very excited. I have been ringing bell about the conservative nature of Diamond Bank. Since 1993 that I have been banking with them they have never disappointed meâ€, he says. â€œ As a foundation customer I have always felt I should be rewarded for my loyalty. Iâ€™m so happy that I have been rewarded through my wifeâ€.
Diamond Bank, indeed, does not toy with its customers, hence it has been saying thank you to them in diverse ways. Apart from Cordelia and Grace there is also Olatunde Adekunle Oketade of Lebanon Street branch, Ibadan as well as Babangida Mailafiya of Doma Road branch, Lafia who won the Salary for Life star prize of the SavingsXtra promotion.
Diamond Bank started Season I of the Savings Xtra promotion in July 2008 and announcedÂ Â that it would give away N200 million in prizes over a 12- month period – including two people winning the star prize of N50m James Umbugadu, a civil servant in Lafia, Nasarawa State was the first person to win the N50m star prize while a 100-level Language and Linguistics student at University of Maiduguri, Habiba Mona Saliu, was the second person. There was also Adamu Abdullahi of Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) who won N10 million as well as Samuel Zouglo, a cook at Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, Lagos who won a brand new Toyota Camry car, among many others who won different prizes.
The current Season II of the promotion, however, commenced in August with the bank announcing that it would give away N400 million, with two people winning the Salary for Life star prize worth N100,000 per month for the next 20 years. Thirty-five other prizes will also be given away each month.
For a customer to qualify for the monthly national draws and stand a chance of winning they only need to maintain a minimum balance of N5,000. No documentation is required. Every additional N5,000 will give extra chances of winning. New customers, however, will require opening a savingsxtra account and start maintaining the minimum balance until the qualifying date for the draw.
Sources in the bankâ€™s branches reveal that there has been a significant leap in the number of customers showingÂ interest in either opening account or ensuring that the minimum balance of N5,000 was left in their respective account with the hope of emerging the winners in the promotion.