What most people don’t know is the role I played in not only birthing this humongous financial institution but ensuring its growth and stability.
As I watch the 20th-anniversary dinner party, from my house in Shomolu with no invite, I am filled with nothing but anger at the snub
Instead of giving me an invite, they give Sanwo-Olu, who was still retaking WAEC when the idea of AccessBank came to me in a dream.
As I watched Bovi compere the event, I wished sincerely that Will Smith or Bianca were in the room to give him the obvious treatment he deserves for not asking why the Duke of Shomolu was not invited.
Well, it all started one cool evening in shomolu. I had just finished playing Monkey Post when Abdul Imoyo ran to me.
Ajanaku- then I was not yet Duke. I was Ajanaku, and I stole the name from former Governor Gbenga Daniel.
Ajanaku, Herbert, and Aigboje want to see you. I say who are they. He says, ‘they are Bankers and want to discuss something with you.’
I say ok. Let me bath first, you know I just finish soccer. He says okay. Let me tell them.
They were ushered in. Aigboje was tall. Very handsome with a slight frown. He had this look of – I will soon beat you- on his face
Herbert was more likable. He was shy and looked like he wanted to run away.
I said, ‘ How can I help you as you can see? I am very busy because one Yoruba boy kick me, and I need to prepare the concoction that I will use to destabilize him
Aigboje said, “We want to set up a bank.” We feel the time is right because they want to drive us where we are.
I say, “Why do you think so?” Herbert said that he had been greeting his oga and that one had not been answering him and that for him was a bad sign.
I say, Kai. Is that the reason? No economic reason? No high falutin reason? The kind of reason Otunba Balogun used to give for setting up FCMB when we knew that the man was just trying to give his son a job after paying such high school fees
Aigboje looked at me and said, for him, he wanted to set up the bank so that nobody would be dictating to him what kind of suit he will be wearing.
I say brilliant. In my mind, I was impressed. These two were very brilliant.
So I said oya sit down, let’s strategize”. Herbert, at that point, said he was hungry, and I gave him garri to drink. Aigboje looked at him in anger and said, “How can you now want to eat at this time?” Ajanaku is ready to give us strategy, and you are hungry?
I said, “Aigboje, leave him let him eat. But be careful of this garri you like to drink so you don’t get bald. Seeing him yesterday after so many years shows that he didn’t listen to the advice
Well, back to the matter. I said, “Let’s call the Bank Access Bank cos I need access to all the light-skinned women in this shomolu. So the name Access will be a signal for them to be giving us access
Aigboje screamed- Ajanaku they should give you a Nobel. I say calm down. I have not started.
After the name, we will position the bank as a bank for women. We will form a product called W . Yes, I had told them this 20years ago, and I thank God they took my advice.
By this time, Amaechi, Abdul, and Maryan Ezechukwu were by the window, signaling me to recommend them
I felt Amechi was too tall, so I said they should recruit him much later. Let the bank grow first before we start recruiting Olympic basketballers.
For Abdul, I felt the size of his head would not allow customers to see the signboard of the bank. So his employment came back later
I strongly recommended Maryann for her smile. What they didn’t know was that by that time I had started chasing her sister Mena and that one had said – Ajanaku, Maryann likes selling rice in Daleko market but she is a psychologist so use your influence so she can get a Bank Job
So I said Herbert employ Maryann and put her in a market branch, and you will see wonders.
The thing about Access Banks’ success today is the humility these two showed that day. They sat quietly on the floor, listened to my voice of wisdom, and took notes.
They agreed to everything I said, including not employing people who have ever gotten malaria in their life. So you see my anger at not being invited to the party.
So, the time to choose MD came. Aigboje gave a passionate speech on how he had promised his parents that he would be a bank MD one day, and as such, Herbert should allow him
Herbert on his own said he will not agree that he had just bought his WAEC form and also when it comes to doing sack races he was championing a skill they will need when they are doing the Access Bank Marathon later in life.
So, it was now up to me to make a decision. I wasn’t going to like these two scatter my hard work.. Is it easy to berth a bank?
I said, “Let’s do ‘ tumbo tumbo.” So I took one agbalumo seed and hid it the way my grand cousin King Solomon did it in the Bible and said Oya tell me where the agbalumo is, and Aigboje pointed to my right hand and emerged the first MD
Herbert wanted to cry. I told him to calm down. That I was the one that told Fola Adeola to resign after just a term and that even though he is regretting now, I sha made him keep to his word, unlike the ones that were looking for a third term
So he should allow Aigboje to serve two terms, and after that, we will use Nollywood movies to distract him so he can retire and you step in.
They both were very happy, hugged me, and asked how they would reward me for such great wisdom
I said they should just ensure that I marry an Access Bank staff once every 10years.
They thanked me and prayed for my long life, and I said go my ‘boys’ go and build the most respectable financial institution of our time.
Today, as they celebrate Access bank’s 20th, I can only say wow. They have not only built a huge franchise but have fostered on the continent one of the most enduring institutions that continue to serve as a beacon of hope in our beleaguered polity.
Well done, guys, you make us proud.
Duke of Shomolu