When I grow up, I want to be a banker; this was the wish of so many kids back then including me. I admired them a whole lot, the suit and tie swagger, the high heels, the smart and ever cheerful look they carried.
I loved it when my big uncle returned home in the evening and then gets dressed for our usual long walk down the street. Some days we rode on our bicycles while in other days, we go play football. I always looked forward to his return from work because he always came with that vibe, that happiness, he always had some stories to tell of his activities at work, it was just an exciting job to do.
I never stopped the banking dream, I saw myself in same suit and tie carrying a brief case, leaving and returning home from work each passing day. The joy and desire for the job was so overwhelming. Gradually I grew to the man I desired (most wishes do come to past). I left university and by then, I had mixed feelings about becoming a banker. The stories were changing, big uncle was no more there, and present day bankers were no more as cheerful and attractive. I wondered if it was my mind messing with me, if I was fantasizing as a little kid or was this a changed reality.
“Banking in Nigeria is no longer a profession” my uncle said while we spoke over the phone. “There is barely anything to learn these days as a banker in Nigeria, it won’t build you rather it will make you a lazy coward; scared of leaving the comfort zone and striving for a better life. You get addicted to the steady paycheck” he added. This is the sad reality of banking and bankers in the present day Nigeria. It is no longer a career you want to build. The bank has become an institution where young and energetic minds are zapped of their strength and youthfulness and then laid off like old layers. Rarely would you see a bank that employs and take time to train their staff across board.
Banking is beyond looking for deposits! A seasoned banker is supposed to give quality financial advisory to investors and customers but how many bankers in Nigeria can boast of possessing that skill? How many of them can boast of interpreting economic policies or reliable forecasting? How many can boast of impacting entrepreneurial skills to others? Why would banks just employ people and the next day send them out on the streets to chase money? What sense does that make?
I am still waiting to see that bank in Nigeria that will practice real banking. The bank that will have the fundamentals of banking as its core values. I am waiting to see the bank that will understand that the better they arm their staff members intellectually and otherwise, the better result they are sure to get. Most bankers have become prostitutes in the name of banking, so many bankers have lost a sense of belonging in the society where they live in. Bankers slump and die every other day due to stress and limited time for healthcare and recreation, many homes are broken, children of bankers turn out to become wayward due to lack of parental care and monitoring. My friend calls them “professional cows” they are led and controlled by herdsmen (the management) and are restrained from using their initiative and prowess.
To be continued……..