When Deacon Udom Emmanuel, the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State appointed new management of Akwa Savings and Loans Ltd led by a seasoned Banker and entrepreneur, Mr. Ebong Bassey heavily supported by its tested and experienced Management team, which include Barr. Abasiama Idiong, Company Secretary; Mr. Ubong Uwak, Head, Business Development; Mr. James Mbom, Financial Controller; Mrs. Ekaette Nssien, Head, Performance Management; Mr. Olyver Ernest, Head, Human Resources and Administration and Mr. Sunday Udomene, Chief Inspector.
It could be recalled that last year, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel set up a Board of enquiry headed by Mr John Udoeyop to review the operations in Akwa Savings And Loans Limited from January 2007 to May 2016 as the governor noted with displeasure that the bank was at the verge of collapse, “the Bank which has been a springboard for Small And Medium Scale Enterprises was in a state of extinction due to unethical practices” and that the former management of the bank led by Mr. Effiong Akwa “lacked corporate governance and transparency in financial services”.
In a public notice, the new management of the bank put out for its clients reads in part, “this is to bring to the notice of the general public that Akwa Savings & Loans Limited is embarking on an aggressive debt recovery drive on all its debtor customers. Therefore, Mortgage & Estates as well as Loan Customers are advised to settle all past due obligations within fourteen (14) days of this publication. Consequently, rates for Mortgage & Estates transactions will be reviewed in line with current market realities at the expiration of the period stated in this notice. Furthermore, plots in Aka Itiam Metropolitan and Afaha/Effiat Offot Estates, not fully paid for during this period, will be revoked in accordance with the terms and conditions of the offer and reallocated accordingly”.
With regrets and a sense of disappointment, the Akwa Savings And Loans Limited, which is a Mortgage Bank wholly owned by the Government of Akwa Ibom State was established with a mandate of providing affordable houses to workers in the public and private sectors has since derailed in its original mandate in operating as a full-fledged commercial bank by providing most of the services of a commercial bank. That is why on assumption of duty, the new management team led by the Managing Director, Mr. Ebong Bassey took the bull by the horn by shorting down some branches of the bank, reduce work force from one hundred and eighty two (182) as it were to about one hundred and twenty with further move to reduce to about sixty (60) competent, hard working and result-oriented staff.
In an interaction with the Managing Director, Chief Executive Director of the bank, Mr. Ebong Bassey, it was gathered that the bank had inherited over N1.8Billion bad debt incurred by the immediate past administrators of the bank whom he described as leadership as faulty, “the leadership of the bank faulty”. He noted that bank cannot operate like government ministry and succeed, “for your information, Akwa Savings And Loans Limited was operated like ministry. That is why their salaries were paid by government. When we came on board, I told His Excellency, you don’t need to pay us salary, this is financial institution, we will generate money to pay ourselves and still carry out the function and mandate of the bank”.
He decried the high operational cost of the institution as was alarming, “the Board was not doing well. When we came on board, we met the bank at a verge of collapse. The wage bill and operational cost so high and these cannot sustain the bank. That is why, I really thank His Excellency for the prompt intervention. As I speak now, we are at the verge recovery of these monies and the governor has approved that we should publish the names of debtors, when the external auditors whom we have employed submit their report, we will publish names of the debtors”.
The new management of the bank who is set to recapitalize the bank has however, called on shareholders of the state-owned financial institution to re-double their effort for the bank to come up alive with more strength and vibrancy, “we have written to share holders on the need to recapitalize the bank and we want to recapitalize to the tone of about N3.5Billion as against the stipulated amount of N2.5Billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria. All this is to get the bank moving to another level”.
The bank boss also explained that some of the past managers of the bank are currently facing corruption charges with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the Police and other agencies of government in a bid to recover the said sum, which were looted to private pockets by formers managers.