Nigerian Banks Devoured by Greed

TEN banks were audited by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Only half of them got the pass mark. The others were said to have fallen far short of the prudent and transparent management required by law and by public trust.

The remaining 14 banks in the country are now being audited. How many of these will scale through?
Should half of them also require government bailouts, the entire financial industry in Nigeria may crash, taking what is left of the economy with it.
Banking laws in Nigeria are tight enough to prevent the type of crisis creeping in.
By law, no loan can be given by any bank without physical collateral and every bank must disclose its non-performing loans to the Central Bank promptly.
Moreover, no bank may give out credit above a stated percentage of its assets.
But what are laws in an environment with pervasive corruption and uncontrollable greed?
About 10 years ago 20 banks collapsed, taking with them the future and, in some cases, the lives of many depositors.
I do not recollect that any serious punishment was meted to the bankers. The officials who caused the crisis smiled away with their loot.
There was also the earlier saga of scores of failed finance houses when several thousand Nigerians were impoverished.
Most of the proprietors initially fled the country only to return to enjoy their loot when they considered the coast clear.
Since then banking in Nigeria has become a glamour profession. Bank executives flaunt opulence and an air of arrogance.
Having caught the corruption bug ravaging the country, they too have become as corrupt as the most corrupt politician or businessman in the land.
Hardly any customer can obtain a loan without paying a bribe, which is calculated as a percentage of the loan sought.
The more the individual banker amasses from the bribes, the greedier he becomes and the more he closes his eyes to regulations.
With time, access to bank credit has become the preserve of the very rich who see no reason to pay back, given the percentage they had paid officials.
In Nigeria young bank managers ride the most expensive cars, they belong in the most exclusive social clubs, they live in the choicest neighbourhoods and they enrol their children in the most expensive schools.
As for the top executives, they are the glamour superstars. They move around town with long convoys of so-called security cars.
They are by far the heaviest donors to Pentecostal Churches, with attendant privileges.
Many of them travel in their own private jets and they dip into their bank’s resources as if these are their personal piggy banks. Hollywood stars would envy their lifestyle.
For a week now three bank chief executives have been reflecting on their lives in the cells of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
One other is said to be at large and yet another is taking refuge in the United Kingdom.
All of them plead innocence.
More will surely join them from the 14 other banks being audited. They will all have their day in court, along with debtors who cannot pay up.
Even that may not tame the greed devouring the Nigerian elite. — BBCOnline.

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