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Regional banking: A retrograde strategy !

By Patrick Okoro
Categorising banks – the latest phase of the banking reform as ‘spirit leads’. This is viewed in many quarters as another strategy to strip the banks of their assets and relegate the banks to small regional banks.

Surely, this is a way of reducing the banks and fractionalising the country into ineffective entities instead of operating a homogeneous banking system.

For such a far reaching change to take place, the change from commercial banking and universal banking to universal banking had to be revisited.

If, however, the new consideration of regional banking is to widen the scope of banking, then it is welcome.
However, care should be taken that it is not a move to intimidate existing banks to downsize.

The universal concept is to increase the reach to the teaming under-banked population and make financial services available , especially with the advent of various reforms during the Obasanjo regime. |

The pension, health, etc are to drive on the platform of universal banking. If capital is a consideration, where capital has been deemed eroded, those banks choosing to remain in the category of universal banking  and willing to provide such services should be given time to raise capital to enable them continue to retain their universal bank status.

This is democracy in business.  This retrograde strategy that prevents each succeeding regime to build on previous building blocks laid down, for example, the whole financial regime is being  systematically  dismantled  in the name of financial reforms which is “one man” driven  an inexperienced banker, whose only qualification is risk management.

It is often said in banking that risk managers must not be put to head banks as they are set in their ways and do not and cannot appreciate the growth strategy of a nation such as Nigeria, that has grown to realise its potential.
This regional strategy is smarting on the “divide and rule” posture for political power instead of pulling together as one nation.

Granted there is a lot of  room for more banks, the thesis here is that the existing banks that are running universal banking should be encouraged rather than being mandated or forced to choose to become regional banks. If this new concept of regional banking is applied that Sanusi L. Sanusi is wont to do, many banks would be forced to sell assets to reduce them to local/regional banks and develop no muscle for national presence.

The concept that only foreign banks are best suited to run universal banking is self defeating as a nation.
For we are not giving our nation the chance to develop its own banking system to drive the developmental projects that will produce jobs for the teaming population of Nigerians.

Today, all the foreign banks and some local banks being categorised as universal banks are mere trading financial institutions.

Most of these banks have no vested interest in the meaningful development and growth of Nigeria, always blaming political instability as an excuse for non-involvement in the nation building projects.

We, Nigerians, have a lot to learn from countries like the USA, and more recently China, in the strategies developed to fast track their national development.

Serious attention must be paid to development or else the best brains will leave and qualitative human capacity will continue to leave our shores for countries with better conditions.

Right here next to us in Ghana – many of our quality human resources are leaving to work in Ghana.
We must always remind ourselves of the Vanguard publications of 23rd March 2009 where the agenda to dismantle the financial structure put in place by the previous regime is to be pulled down, in order to create a level playing field for those who refused to participate then.

This agenda as set out by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has destabilised the entire economic framework of this nation in order to achieve a sectional and selective objective.
This country is greater than any section, region, ethnic group etc.
The greater good of the entire nation must come first in any reform and those at the receiving end of any reform must always be considered for a soft landing.

This encourages the growth of an entrepreneurial  class which is a must if the opportunities here are to be harnessed by indigenes so that we are not relegated to be hewers of wood and drawers of water -i.e. mass servitude.

We must allow the development of growth related models like Otunba Mike Adenuga, Jimoh Ibrahim, Aliko Dangote, Shehu Dantata to mention a few.

Sanusi must be stopped before he destroys the fabric of society that was delicately put together by the last regime with some of the best brains the country produced internationally – Madame Ngozi Okonjo Nweala, Prof. Charles Soludo, El-Rufai, Madam Oby Esikwelesi, etc.

Availability of finance is so important that structures must be put in place to ensure the man on the street feels the impact of such reforms instead of destroying a fragile credit system that is being developed gradually.
Control must be put in place, control that must enhance growth.

All reforms must of necessity have the man on the street as the goal to be targeted as in the end it is his vote that put government in place.

Government is to serve   the man on the street and continuously put the structures in place to improve standard of living and not to spend seven months destroying the economy.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.