Opinion | Open Letter – Misplaced Access
Nigerians are happy people they say, spending more than an estimated 40billion naira yearly
on champagne and parties. This may be attributed to the fact that the problems are too
much, we make jokes of them daily, or that the problems are so rampant, we just pretend
they are nonexistent. In reality, we have no true reasons to be happy.
It got to our notice that the Access Bank staff prepared a farewell party for their outgoing
MD, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. Modest as it may be, we are infuriated by the series of events
that occurred. The extravagant spending of a company perceived to have sacked 200 top
staff to cut budget, in bringing an out-of-prime American R&B singer to the tune of 200
million naira. That a financial body, trusted and charged with the responsibility of protecting
citizens finance, goes on such an appalling, unsupervised spending spree.
It is the same banking sector that gives loans to the corrupt, and none to those with good
intentions. Nigeria does not invest in ideas, dreams and visions that can yield long-term
benefits; they invest solely in profit. I can only say that Access Bank is committed to
withholding people’s money, and not solving people’s needs. I read the report of the Access
Bank Corporate Social Responsibility of 2011. On page 5, it clearly stated therein that Access
Bank supports “global efforts at addressing extreme poverty through the development of
products and services aimed at financial inclusion. Given that a large number of people are
still either under-banked or unbanked, there is a significantly low level of financial literacy
and poor access to information is apparent.” Going ahead to capitalize on this lack of
information rather than investing in communities only goes to buttress this point. No one
committed to solving problems goes to such wasteful lengths.
How are people expected to find investors to start businesses and solve social problems,
when there is an obvious adamance to social needs? Where financial institutions would
rather give short term loans for immediate benefits rather than long term loans towards
strategic benefits, hoping and expecting to acquire your properties. Where majority of the
staff, were not permitted to attend their “end of the year bash”. From my personal research,
Access Bank has one of the least ratings in employee and customer satisfaction.
We live in a time where all eyes are on our country, and obviously not for any laudable
reasons. Such actions portray the Nigerian business sector, and economy to be nonstrategic
and unserious. This nonchalance is the reason why possible alien investors will remain at
arm’s length. Why we would hardly grow as a nation. The people remain overwhelmed by
such actions; they cannot see what is really happening. That the people are so used to
corruption, they are now blinded to it.
How did we all lose ourselves? It portrays a poverty of ambition, when all you think of is
what goods you can buy, rather than what good you can do.
Some of this blame goes to unproductive use of the Nigerian social media. Those who see
social media as a tool for entertainment only, go around finding incomprehensible positivity
to such atrocities. Where even the US media are unhappy with Mariah Carey for performing
at a country they describe as the “center of the world’s email financial crimes”.
Why won’t Nigerians want to travel out in search of greener pastures when they see the
hopelessness in a system where it is said that the land is green? If any change is to be
effected, it should come from private sector collaborations, and not governments alone.
In the midst of all the negative criticism we already face, we do not need more reasons for
the world to continue to write us off as backward and incompetent.
When you let marketing and sales run a company, rather than those who have the vision for
making change, then there is a loss of foresight and continuity. That said, business leaders
and citizens of this great nation need to reflect and ponder on these questions: WHY do you
do the things you do? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? WHY does your company
exist? And WHY should anyone care?
We believe in Nigeria, and we will strive with true purpose to make our country a better
For my team,
Kaycee Kosara Chidi.