Anger could be an effective negotiating tool. It becomes the sinew to Ifie Sekibo’s soul and last resort to save his job. The Managing Director (MD) of Heritage Bank, is very angry right now. And the tumult of his rage commands the fear and propriety of many a billionaire; his bank’s politician debtors to be precise.
Years after enduring in silence, eminent politician and self-styled godfather, Senator Andy Uba’s recalcitrance at refunding a loan taken from Heritage Bank, the bank’s MD, Sekibo, authorised the deployment of chaos by his underlings in reclaiming what has undoubtedly become a bad debt.
On Monday, June 21, a motley crew of protesters from Heritage Bank stormed Uba’s residence in Abuja, in a peaceful protest. The intent, according to the protesters is to peacefully urge him to settle his debt with the bank. His failure, to do that, argued the protesters, would result in job losses for the bank employees keeping vigil in front of his house.
In a video shared by one of the protesters, he stated that the huge loan secured by Uba was actually depositors’ money which must be refunded ; he also lamented that the employees stationed in front of Uba’s residence stand the risk of losing their jobs, bemoaning the likely impact on their families if they should be laid off.
Without doubt, the recent plunge in the value of the Naira has begun to hit hard on the banking sector, as the Heritage bank has deemed it very necessary to take the war to chronic debtors, like Uba, who have refused to settle the loans taken by them.
Uba’s case is particularly worrisome given his intention to contest his state, Anambra’s governorship election, later this year. If he can’t honour both a business cum gentleman’s agreement over a loan facility secured by him and at great risk to innocent depositors, how can he be trusted with the destinies of a whole state?
If you could read between the lines, you just might decipher the saddening fable of the politician and businessman, who assumed a burden of debt in frantic quest of political and entrepreneurial acclaim. To attain wealth, he plunged in indebtedness, incurring tons of liability, forgetting that debt has never been a dependable harbinger of wealth nor has it ever been a dependable status conferrer.
There is no gainsaying several businessmen and politicians like Uba, have borrowed their way into a bind. When the going was good, and the foreign exchange rate humoured their frantic lusts, many of them took fancy loans from the banks; they borrowed $10 million at the exchange rate of N350 to $1. The horizon seemed rid of storms and the crisis of perilous liabilities. But no sooner did the naira take a plunge, now exchanging at N502 to a dollar, they sank in the riotous waves of debt.
Due to the financial crisis, many of them have incurred millions of debts in dollars even though their earnings are in naira. Tough luck. While the naira exchanges at an unrealistic N450 to a dollar, they have to pay up their million-dollar debt and buy inflow at N515 or thereabouts.
Unfortunately for them, no help is coming from their cohorts in the banking industry as their bankers are caught up in the wave of debt and ugly liabilities. Even the banks are in crisis; a consequence of bad management, lack of visionary planning, and inability to recoup many of the bad loans they gave in the time of plenty.
In frustration, Heritage Bank’s MD, Sekibo resorted to use of force, channeling angst to muzzle Uba into repaying his loan. If he has money to fund his campaign and woo voters at the forthcoming Anambra gubernatorial elections, he must be able to settle his debt with the bank.
The bank’s MD has undoubtedly had it with unrepentant debtors like Uba. But he must watch it, as anger, it is often said, is both an unforgiving master and a foul, cunning slave who assumes the aspect of a counselor, but whose advice is deadly poison.
To repay his soaring debt, will Uba begin to pawn off his properties? Will he swallow his pride and plead for leniency and more time to settle his debt? Or will he depend on bluster to bully his way through his disgraceful bind?
Time will tell.
Source: The Capital