By Terry Adewale
In one of his most rarely seen moods, an elated Pascal Dozie – grinning from ear to ear had stepped forward after a cling of glasses signifying ‘ceasefire’ from the small talks and corporate ‘back slapping’ of that cocktail evening for a very important announcement. Pascal did not disappoint.
He seized that 5 minutes of fame’ to make the most charitable statement one would ever ascribe to a conservative banker of his genre. He proclaimed gleefully to the select group of stakeholders and investors this bright summer day evening at the prestigious Eko Holiday Inn:”I’m the President of the church of Money”, with a never seen before mischievous smile thrown into the bargain. Pascal, one of the most conservative bankers of the time had very good reasons for this famous declaration.
His then new pet project – Diamond Bank had just returned a 6- month impressive trading result. A hefty chunk of some millions within few months of opening shop was a rare feat in those days when the big strong reliable ones were scratching the surface. An industry record which effectively squared him headlong with the newly emerged class of yuppie bankers of the mid 80’s. Jimi Lawal the then new kid on the block at the high profile Alpha Merchant Bank in Ikoyi was far ahead of the yuppie pack. Jimi managed Alpha, albeit from the background as Executive Director.
Macaulay Iyayi was the ‘political’ Managing Director. The dexterity and the fast paced innovative streaks that accompanied the entrance of yuppies changed the face of the banking industry. With the likes of very young brilliant bankers like Kehinde Durosinmi, Fola Adeola, Erastus Akingbola, Isaac Fatade etc. holding sways in these upstart banks the stage was set for serious competition for the soul of depositors. That period could aptly be classified as fierce and competitive in the industry.
Undoubtedly, the banking industry was the fastest growing industry at the time. This period was particularly unique as it threw up an unofficial duel between the upstarts’ yuppie bankers and their more conservative elders, the patriarchs of the Nigerian banking sector. Pascal Dozie belongs to that club of elders that paraded very brilliant, conservative and less verbose bankers, the likes of Chief Dele Falegan, Chief Oladele Sanusi, Victor Odozi, Alh Amusa Otiti, Chief Olisa Mbu, Alh M. Mutallab, Mr Oladele Olashore, Segun Agbetuyi, Yemi Agbelusi, Mohd Kollere, Ibrahim Ayagi, Chief Wole Adeosun, Dr Green Nwankwo, Chief Samuel Igbayilola Adegbite and so many others
Pascal’s entry into the fray, was therefore totally any surprise especially as many of these patriarchs had already dived, testing waters against what seemed like the ‘invasion’ of the landscape by the yuppies and their upstart banks especially in the wholesale subsector of the industry.
Samuel Asabia had quietly entered with the First Inter State Bank in Marina Lagos, so also Mr Sure Banker himself – Subomi Balogun had lightened up old Kakawa Business district of Lagos with the First City Merchant Bank. S.O Ogundipe was already creating a niche with his Prudent Merchant Bank. Another veteran of note -Dennis Odife had also made impressive statement with his Centrepoint Merchant Bank on Broad Street. Chief Adekanye and Raphael Osayeme were busy packaging eggheads like Victor Ogundipe ex IBWA to launch Commerce Bank.
Chief Femi Ajayi already had 2 banks in his kitty – a wholesale and a retail one, ‘Currency Controller’ ‘Yera Adeyemo established Assurance Bank, sauve AJ Adewunmi – who later became a Senator – just transformed his Abacus Securities to fresh mint Abacus Merchant Bank while Oladele Olashore upgraded Lead Konsult to Lead Merchant Bank. With all these precursors into the bank owners club, Pascal’s coming was just another fresh lettuce.
However, his ‘loud’ entry with the grand performance of Diamond Bank was a confirmation of his high flying credentials as a former central banker of note. It was also a statement to the ‘ravaging’ yuppies. ‘Beware, the grandmasters are still here’. A warning shot indeed.
Undoubtedly Pascal’s pioneering efforts established the template that created the brand – Diamond.
It’s with sadness therefore, that those who’s known and associated with this great work of a hardworking conscientious banker would learn of the demise of the bank – unfortunately, in the hand of his scion – Uzoma Dozie.
What a tragic way to end a glorious legacy!
It’s an open secret that the unbridled ambition of handing over that beautiful legacy to his family paved the way for the unfortunate death of Diamond. Whatever happened, the demise of Diamond Bank is a sad development for enterprise.