Aniekeme Finbarr

From being a financial institution riddled with internal and external challenges, it is heartwarming to announce that Akwa Savings and Loans Limited is back to a sound financial state; technology-compliant and operationally efficient.

Akwa Savings, wholly owned by the Akwa Ibom State Government dates back to 1995. It is licensed by Central Bank of Nigeria to undertake mortgage financing, and other ancillary banking services in Nigeria. The full range primary Mortgage Institution has grown with the growth of the people, offering a variety of financial services over the years.

On resumption of office, Governor Udom Emmanuel moved in to save the mortgage banking institution from a near collapse and effectively managed stakeholder’s assets. He quickly constituted a six member board of directors and a competent Executive Management Team and set in motion a full scale recovery plan.

Today, customers are not only willing but committed to repay their facilities. The aggressive loan recovery drive of the new management team has resulted in a significant loan recovery and perfection of the assets documentation. The debt collection has improved from N137 Million in 2016 to N298 Million at the end of 2017. The bank has not only met the funding requirements of most of the customers but have fully reassured them of the financial stability of the bank.

Interestingly, Akwa Savings have recorded new deposits and businesses since the new management team came on board, set up by Governor Udom Emmanuel. 268 new accounts were recorded in 2016 and 679 new accounts recorded in 2017. The renewed customer confidence in the institution also saw fresh deposits rise from N286 Million in 2016  to N458 Million as at December 2017.

Not only has the new management team convinced new customers of its new health and status, old customers have revived their accounts and are doing business. 425 dormant accounts were reactivated in 2016, while 940 dormant accounts were reactivated in 2017.

With the express approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Akwa Savings and Loans Limited has relocated its Head office operations to its new ultra-modern office complex at Abak road, a more befitting edifice for the bank. The relocation has further boosted customer’s confidence that indeed Akwa Savings is back to stability and profitability. The old office building at Oron road, Uyo no longer reflected the resurgence of the time tested financial institution.  Akwa Savings and Loans Limited can also boast of five (5) viable branches strategically located in the three senatorial districts of Akwa Ibom State. The branches are in Uyo, Ikot Ekpene, Eket, Abak and Oron.

How and why has Akwa Savings succeeded? Governor Udom Emmanuel clearly marshalled out a plan to resurrect the bank from financial abyss and set it on a competitive frequency befitting of its name and standing. The new management Governor Emmanuel put in place  have brought creative strategies and adopted current ICT trends. They have modernized the operational systems in the bank with a robust IT platform. SAGAMY as core banking software has positioned the bank to deliver online real time operational capabilities. The bank can now carry out revenue and fess collection, money transfers, card transactions, etc. Akwa Savings and Loans Limited now networks with INTERSWITCH and REMITA to provide funds transfer services on the platform.

The new executive management team at Akwa Savings and Loans Limited led by Mr Ebong Bassey as MD and CEO have brought dynamism, focus and core professionalism to the game. Ebong, a seasoned banker has brought his experience to bear. Having worked as Senior Banking Officer, at Diamond bank from 1993 to 2000 Deputy Manager, Eagle Bank from 2000 to 2005, Manager at FCMB, 2005 to 2006, Zonal Head, Intercontinental Bank Plc till 2014, he has ensured Akwa Savings successfully offer a wide range of products and services like: Home ownership scheme, property/development for commercial and residential use, staff home administration scheme, etc. Akwa Savings also offer several banking services like: Savings Accounts, Business/Deposits Accounts, Issuance of Guarantees, Bonds, etc, Small and Medium Scale Enterprise Financing, Children’s Education Savings Scheme, Financial Advisory Services, etc.

Today, members of staff of Akwa Savings and Loans Limited are promptly paid monthly and as at when due. A backlog of salaries of not less than 100 million naira has since been cleared by the new management set up by Governor Udom Emmanuel. The full financial audit of the bank had been completed as the bank can boast of an up to date status on the accounts of the bank. All assets of the bank have been verified and a comprehensive Asset Register updated for effective management of the assets in order to an enhance effective decision making process.

On the new work ethics at the bank, MD of Akwa Savings and Loans Limited succinctly said:  ‘’Akwa Savings is not an extension of a Government Ministry or any office. We are running profitably and making our shareholders, investors, staff and everybody happy. With this team, we have moved into the market boldly. We inherited a civil service office but we reworked that mentality. We are training and retraining to ensure that the people inculcate this new culture, new orientation and new direction. With the Dakkada philosophy which I know that most of my staffs are aware of, everybody has risen to meet the standards of the bank. We now have policies and we are guided. Our dress code is now like a bank not like any other office. People now come to work by 7 a.m. They are now devoted and have acquired other skills than before, showing the readiness of the new Akwa Savings and Loans to grow ’’,  Mr. Ebong Bassey added.

It is therefore refreshing to submit that Akwa Savings and Loans Limited is waxing stronger, renewing confidence in old and new customers and in the regulatory bodies which is clearly evident by some of the approvals, waivers and breathers in the bank’s operations. Great credit must be given to Governor Udom Emmanuel for his pragmatic leadership in this regard. Indeed, once the passion is right, nothing is impossible.

Finbarr is a public affairs analyst.

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