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Skye Bank’s Olatunjie (Jakporoo Iku)

Skye Bank’s Olatunjie (Jakporoo Iku)

According to one Nigerian film, this too-young banker is ecstatically dancing the dance of death (Jakporo Iku, in Nigerian Language).  The popular Nigerian drama shown on TV last week portrays a dying man, using his last strength to struggle in order to escape the inevitable.   According to Olatunjie’s employees (or should I say ex-employees, as he says he is still in post), Olatunjie ran frantically around Freetown the whole of Tuesday looking for help, as he was outed as being the next bank chief to lose his head in Sierra Leone.  According to our wiki-sources, his consultation with his godfather, another diplomat with god in his name, yielded fruit as the diplomat was said to have called on newspapers of Nigerian origin to help him restore his battered image.  This resulted in a closed door meeting with two journalists (editors), at which they crafted the story, which should have launched his comeback kid campaign as the young darling of the banking community.

It is unclear if the bleaching campaign was to have been done for a fee, but our sources say the whitewash journalists claim to have crafted a ‘BIG’ story for which the money has not come in yet, but will soon arrive.

Arguments soon broke out over the editorial content as serious minded journalists and other analysts began to question the rationale behind the excuses being proffered.  According to Olatunjie, Standard Time’s Abubakar Kargbo and Sierra Express Media’s Abdulai Kamara, who broke the story, did not call him, but rather sent him text messages to confirm his own side of the story.  It is unclear whether Olatunjie knows how to use his Zain Blackberry, but if a journalist sends you a text, there are several avenues for response, just in case you didn’t know.  You can text back or even call the person, taking into consideration that you are (or were) a bank chief, who has some excess units to spend on PR, the fairer sex, the banks image etc.  In any case, should it matter if a journalist calls you when a story breaks?  This is an argument for another day.  We waited to see if the Nigeria affiliated newspapers would come out with such a laundry soap story, but we are still waiting.  However, a story did emerge from one of the local tabloids and the most prominent words there were – “I am still in post.’  To which we heartily congratulated Mr Olatunjie.

‘I am still in post’.  By this phrase does he mean still MD of Skye SL, or did he mean ‘placed, set up, standing immobile?’  If Mr Olatunjie is still in post, why are his employees confirming that there is a new Managing Director in the building.  OR, has he been promoted into irrelevance.  His vituperate outburst on his former best friend, Saffie Deen Tarawallie was childish and immature to say the least.  The lady has already been relieved of her appointment on the basis of Olatunjie’s shenanigans.  What was the point in attacking her personality and announcing to the press that she was sacked for gross professional misconduct?  Is his attack on her going to make him smell rosier?  Even with all the skeletons in his cupboard.

We agree that the sacking of Mr Olatunjie’s driver is a decision that is within his power to make or the board as he says.  However, what is questionable is his extra mural activities within the bank which appear to be hovering around allegations of impropriety, unprofessional conduct (same as Saffie), a dearth of senior management capability, and a seriously faulty sense of judgment.  It is unclear how Olatunjie can blame one individual for a smear campaign against a bank that is so unprofessionally run.  If Skye Bank was not so unprofessionally run by Olatunjie, surely Tarawally would have nothing to write about.  If Olatunjie was still in post, why is there another man at the helm of affairs, and why is Olatunjie spending all his time driving between his house, his god’s residence and his church?

Granted no economy can survive with the creation of credit, but is the granting of loans on condition of between 10 and 30% kickback part of the credit creation effort?  Is the demonstration of conflict of interest and the begging for shares in customer companies’ part of the credit creation effort?  And is the mismanagement of the bank part of the effort to create credit and or jobs?

One thing we certainly disagree with – Skye Bank Sierra Leone cannot in any way be described as a bank that adheres to strict standards of  corporate governance.  Olatunjie himself is said to have advised his customers in the presence of his risk management staff to create dummy accounts and split their loans into small bits with creative signatories.  What would these have been used for, if not to deceive the regulatory authorities.  How does this look in terms of corporate governance.  Olatunjie’s customers are often referred to as MDs customers, why?  For some accounts, his operations manager says they are run not by the banking rules, but by memos from the MD.  And if Olatunjie’s main purpose is to partner with his clients to ensure business growth, he appears to have taken this partnering a tad too far.  For some of his customers, it has become a handshake up to the elbow.

If the issue of kickbacks of any sort has never been an issue in determining the processing of any request on the part of the Managing Director, why is Skye Bank having so many issues with this kind of allegations?  Why are the MDs of other banks not having such stories brandished around about them?  Why is no one making such allegations about the MDS of GTBank, Access Bank, Rokel Bank, Ecobank and Commercial Bank?

Though Olatunjie denied the statement attributed to him… “I am not going alone, I’ll ensure that some of you are sacked without a single cent paid.” he is certainly behaving differently from his statements.  But then again, Olatunjie’s leadership style has apparently been ‘do as I say, don’t do as I do.

We did not attempt to reach Ms Tarawally, but we think that speaking to her is irrelevant.  It is clear that Olatunjie has only brought her into the picture to try and deodorize his own sullied image and distract attention from the issue of an MD, his parlor wife’s jeep, his driver and his mess.

Abulai Kamara, Freetown

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