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Lazarus banks: SBN and SGN

By Dele Sobowale
“At some time in the life cycle of every organization, its ability to survive in spite of itself runs out”.

I am not good at writing obituaries; especially when several hundred thousand people wish that somehow a dead organisation must wake up. But for the depositors of Savanah Bank Plc and Societe Generale the truth must be told in order to get them to come to terms with their misfortune and move on with their lives.

This article was inspired by one of our readers. And as you know, I try as much as possible to give our readers what they want – especially if the issue they want addressed has a lot of merit.

Sir, help us revisit d issue of SBN which was closed Feb 2002 by BABA IYABO 4 political reasons forgetn d adverse effect of his action on d depositors. D depositors are jinxed cos no complaints or wateva while de are dying everyday. SBN licence was released after 7yrs in June 2009 2 operate n nothing is forthcoming up till now.

My 5m of dat period worth 20m now. NDIC shld set out 2 liquidate d bank n settle d customers in due time. Tanx……”.

Let me first of all express my sympathy to the sender of this message. I wish there is a way to deflect the pain while still telling the truth that government and banks’ officials deny. But before that let me remind the person making the inquiry and others in the same predicament, about certain principles of banking.

Banking is based on trust; and that means trust in other people. Unfortunately, our recent experience in Nigeria has proved that it is very risky to trust even those called “children of God” by their Pastors.

Perhaps it is because trust is so fragile that Charles Dickens, in Hard Times, warned all of us that “Fellows who go in for banks must take the consequences. If there are no consequences we should all go in for banks”.

The Board of Directors and Managers of the two banks have proved to be untrustworthy. Of the two Societe Generale is the worse. But, both are functionally dead because none can generate the level of trust necessary for depositors to leave their money there anymore and a bank without deposits is dead.

Granted, a court of law has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria to return the certificate to Savannah Bank, it is just another proof that “the law is an ass”. It is certain that the judge who delivered that judgment, if he has money in SBN, will be the first in line to collect his deposit.

He might not realize it, but at UniJankara we know that any of  those banks which dares to open its doors will create a riot of people wanting to withdraw without a single person eager to pay in. The bank will be liquidated in less than one hour.

What is incomprehensible to me is why the Boards of Directors of the two banks don’t come out and confess that the game is up instead of holding people in suspense for ever. Chief Nwobodo and the Sarakis owe the depositors the truth. But, since they refuse to tell it, let me tell my friend to forget the N5 million. It is gone.

That goes for SGBN depositors too. You’ve been taken to the cleaners. I am really sorry about that.

It was clear to me, around 2008, that things had taken an unexpected turn for the worse in Imo, from three incidents which occurred before what can only be called “The Job Swindle”. First, the governor and his saucy convoy came to Lagos, where he is not governor, and where the governor does not use siren, and molested a woman taking her kids to school for not moving out of the way for a “tin god”.

His former Chief Press Secretary wrote a letter to newspapers justifying the attack by querying why the woman should impede the movement of “a whole governor” – as if there are half or one quarter governors. It shows the level of silliness to which even educated people descend once they become government officials.

Next, in the same Lagos, I was driving on the slow lane on Third Mainland Bridge when the governor’s convoy again came driving at close to 160 kph. Even a bush person knows that you cannot ask someone on slow lane to move over. But, the uniformed cave men escorting the governor wanted me to move –perhaps into the lagoon.

I refused to move until they were able to find an alternative lane. Then one of the Mobile goons aimed a kick at my windscreen – all because of Ohakim, a public servant. It was just as well he missed.

Then there was the personal brutalization of a critic which they all denied but which I investigated and found to be so.

Then, the former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, a Ph.D holder, and formerly an engaging columnist, added defamation to the injury the man suffered. That to me demonstrated that birds of the same feather were flocking together in Imo – a rude and apple polishing Commissioner and the governor who employed him. I was sure something more serious will happen next.

Two things occurred; political kidnapping unprecedented in the history of Imo and the job scam…

“All governments are liars; none should believe them”.
F. Stone, US Journalist 1901.

And in every government, except Nigeria, no Minister lies more readily than the Minister of Finance, MinFin. It just goes with the territory. In Nigeria however, the Minister of Finance has a rival –The Minister of Petroleum Resources. Indeed, show me a Minister of Finance or Petroleum who has not delivered a lot of whoppers –especially in an election year—and I will show you a saint. Today let me confine myself to Finance.

I will roast Petroleum later. The Minister is supposed to represent Lagos State, but nobody seems to recollect an Aganga family prominent in Lagos or where they come from. That told us, Area Boys, that some funny game was up. And, as usual, it was.

In June, when the President reportedly approved the Minimum Wage, someone asked the MinFin if the Federal government would be able to pay given that the 2010 Budget was prepared before the wage was agreed.

Promptly came the assurance that the “amount has been captured in the Supplementary Budget. Payments will start in July”. When workers asked for the money promised, in November, the answer became, “the bill had not been signed by the President” and a Committee would have to work on it.

For those not enrolled in UniJankara, there is a need to interpret that malarkey. It means No Minimum Wage in 2010 unless the workers threaten the system.…..


In Akwa Ibom, now kidnapping capital of Nigeria, kidnapping had gone global. I warned Nigeria; as usual the “leaders” are not listening. They wait until another major disaster…


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