Royal Bank left behind vulnerable orphans?

Mr. Gershon P. Anumu

Alhaji Adam Iddrisu of blessed memory established the Royal Bank in 2012 from the fruit of his labour as a merchant for decades. After six (6) years in operation, the bank joined the league of others including the Beige Bank, Construction Bank, Sovereign Bank and the uniBank whose licences were revoked by the Bank of Ghana for violating many provisions in the Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act (930) 2016. Within the period that it was in existence, the bank made huge investments in the areas of education, sanitation and water to improve the lives of people.

Concerning the water situation in Ghana, revealed that “close to six million people (nearly 22 percent) rely on surface water to meet their daily water needs, leaving them vulnerable to water-related illness and disease. Further, 67 percent of Ghanaians lack access to improved sanitation or are entirely without toilet facilities…Consequently, those living in poverty often pay up to ten times more per litre for water service from private vendors than their middle-class counterparts connected to piped water services”.

Base on this, the erstwhile Royal Bank responded to the call of vulnerable communities through its Corporate Social Responsibility arm – The Royal Foundation. The foundation extended potable water to the needy communities on a yearly basis. It did the same a few months ago and promised to support more communities in the coming years – but as fate would have it, it exited the banking scene on August 1, 2018. Dead! Like deceased caring parents who have left behind orphans with unfulfilled promises, the expectant communities are enveloped in grief. Who else will come to their aid, since government’s budgets have always been overstretched? Will the Consolidated Bank connect with Ghanaians through some of these initiatives?

Bankingtainment the lighter side

As the central bank takes actions to restore confidence in the Banking Sector, many individuals, especially bankers, are sitting on tenterhooks. The reasons are obvious, and rightly so considering the ripple-effects – job-losses! Even the Governor himself is reported to have said that the situation is costing him a cordial relationship with lifetime friends, including former Managing Director of the Royal Bank, Mr Osei Asafo-Adjei. Reports say the two have been friends for decades since their schooldays at Cambridge University.

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Mr. Governor! Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.  Individuals who look at the issues through untainted lenses will sympathise with you in these challenging times. For now, take consolation in Alan Jackson’s “What a Friend We Have in Jesus lyric. You will have good times with your old friends again. Mr. Osei Asafo-Adjei is also human and could not overcome the shock early enough. Do you know the trick to ensure he responds to your next message?

Mr. Governor! Just remember the Cambridge Friday nights and invite him to come over for a glass of cold beer. Drop this WhatsApp message to him: “Osei! Where you dey? Friday night dey come ooo!” Drop bottle emojis (signs) in the message and Osei will read it “quick” and reply – I hear you, boss. Now, you make I forget the shock small. Where we go meet?” Lai momo – like the old firewood, you rekindle the bond of friendship again.

Friends! The stress must go. We are going to dance to the tune ‘Ogidi-gidi Shege’. Here is how it goes: stand on your feet, count one, two, three, four. Shake your body! Take the rhythm! Ogidi-gidi shege, Ogidi-gidi, shege! Ogidi-gidi, shege!! Ogidi-gidi, shege!!! Ayooo!

When we started the conversation with “Royal Bank left behind vulnerable orphans?”, many people were thinking it concerned Alhaji Adam’s 23 children. Eiii, is it a football team? No, no, no! Alhaji was deeply involved in his businesses. But do you know that after working hours, he had time for private things? Hajia dey inside. Open the legs small, small. I didn’t say anything. The Pope is in the Vatican.

Don’t laugh alone. uniBank did it better with its Corporate Social Responsibility project ‘Operation Smile’, which restored smiles on the faces of many underprivileged people with cleft-lip. Will the Consolidated Bank emulate this? Jokes! Do you remember the UT Bank’s billboards with the chimpanzee? The chimpanzee was just busy calling the bad customers to come for the big loans without telling anyone or following normal procedures.  A loan in less than 48 hours. When things went bad and the alarm bell was rung, the chimpanzee made a quick U-turn back to the zoo.   

In recent times, every public gathering is also characterised by consolidation. During meal time at a party, the announcer directed all those who wanted their food consolidated to move in a queue to a designated table. Can you imagine – aprapransa small, Jollof small, waakye small…including banku and okro soup all heaped in one plate. Hehehe!

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So, what is the meaning of bankingtainment? Okay! Bankingtainment means when you hear that the Governor is going to address a press conference, you quickly put the Bible, the Koran and the cross on one another. You look up and down. Then you pray seriously for five minutes. After the conference, then you consolidate the holy books together with the cross as the spine. They also have one supreme regulator. Naa God ooo! That’s all. You see! No matter how difficult the situation is, a bit of laughter is always good for our health.

Alright, the Fit and Proper Test is in force to rephrase Banking in the country. Ban kings. It tends to ban Banking sector kingpins whose wrongdoings directly collapse banks. Ooops! Is it now a crime to own a bank or be a key management person? You know, some people have distinguished themselves in Banking for decades and were preparing for retirement – and equally expecting dignified send-off packages.

Unfortunately, “he who pays the piper calls the tune” – the unbridled shareholder-controlled decisions affected the banks including them. Collective responsibility? What is next for them?  If you have a heart of flesh with a deep sense of fellow-feeling, you will empathise with them because it is not always the case of let them cry their own cry” – mind your own business or the individualistic tendencies we have exhibited this day.

Management of Consolidated Bank, please – to reduce the hiring and training costs, absolve the majority of my colleague young professionals with many years ahead in the world of work. To end today’s discussion, let us be guided by William Black’s sarcasm – The best way to rob a bank is to own one. It is a timeless test and admonition, if you don’t want to be described the same way, then respect the relevant banking regulations.

Dear readers, I always enjoy your company. God Bless You!  

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