Few weeks ago, I received a Notice that a court had ordered a meeting for Access Bank shareholders. In that meeting, we would vote for the “merger” of Access Bank and Diamond Bank. Of course, there is nothing really a “merger” in this: Diamond Bank logo will exit, forever. That vote had come and gone – the shareholders approved the merger of Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, both Nigerian banks.
Also, weeks ago, a Diamond shared his experience working in Diamond Bank. Jaja’s experience was similar to mine – I enjoyed every day I worked in Diamond Bank. Without the Bank, I am not sure I will be where I am today. It opened a world without limitation. In short, even when I left, the Bank remained diamond for me.
How could I forget that my house at Ohafia was built when I was at Diamond Bank? When I get distress calls from people asking for financial help to pay bills when their wives deliver a baby at a hospital I will remember that thrice Diamond Bank paid for me, from ante-natal to post-natal with superior treatment. I never paid hospital bills and they even pay a little sum to cater for out of pocket drugs that I bought when I wasn’t treated in a hospital (Medical off the shelf). I became a chartered certified accountant (ACCA) while working for the bank. I bought three cars in seven years while working for the bank, that is excluding the one paid for that I never got. During my wedding, they sent two vehicles to convey colleagues and my wedding gifts.
Diamond Bank was the only company I had ever applied or interviewed for a job in Nigeria. The ones before it came without interviews or even applications. I admire the bank, as as I had documented in my First Day in America piece.
My kinsman used to be Diamond Bank’s Chief Operating Officer and had returned home with some company booklets while I was in the university. I read the Diamond Integrated Banking System (DIBS) and an “electronic card” which the bank had created. In my college final seminar, I presented on the DIBS, Nigeria’s greatest banking product, and added biochip to the card element to make it fanciful. A UK professor (via Institution of Engineering and Technology, formerly IEEE) had just sent me a magazine which contained an article on implanting electronics in human bodies for security and electronic payments. The seminar was well received by Prof M.C. Ndinechi who supervised it.
In Nigeria, one bank gave us a Perception Demand product. Diamond Bank’s DIBS (Diamond Integrated Banking System) was a peerless product when it was invented in 1990s. It ushered modern banking in Nigeria by making it possible that you could deposit money in one bank branch and operate the account in any of the same bank branches. That innovation, in my opinion, is the greatest product in the history of Nigerian banking. Yes, DIBS is the All-Time Greatest Banking Product in Nigeria. It was built on perception demand construct.
Besides the booklets, I had consulted a former staff of the bank (named Tom O.) who was a Master’s degree student in FUTO when I was preparing for the seminar. While consulting him, he dropped some hints about the bank: he would be working over the weekend and would be unavailable to assist on my questions. I was intrigued: you are doing master’s degree and you are still working in a bank! Simply, I knew I could work in the same bank, earn degrees while also earning salaries. That was why I decided that I would explore to work in the bank.
Later, Tom explained that if I could get into Diamond Bank, I could do my master’s degree while keeping my job. Then, I knew that was the company for me: continue my passion on education while securing the financial needs. Good people, as Tom said, Diamond Bank did pay for my degrees along with many technical certifications.
I am not sure of any greater company in the world than Diamond Bank. But I understand that change happens. Yes, it does. But no matter what – I want to say Goodbye to Diamond Bank. You lived a truly good life. The memories of climbing a fuel truck on a weekend to make sure we have diesel to power our systems remain. The memories of sleeping in NEPA office to ensure they do not cut-off Diamond Bank line during diesel scarcity remain. In those moments, we emerged as leaders, textured with excellence and capabilities.
This morning, I have moved all my shares in Diamond Bank [which was bought never to be sold] to charity.
I thank the legendary founder, Pascal Dozie, for raising a generation of young people through the bank. The bank served the nation. I am confident that the Diamond Bank’s original mission which I memorized while in training school will somehow remain, within Access Bank: “to create a unique International Bank focused on providing creative solutions to customers’ business problems, with an absolute commitment to quality.” The logo may dim but the excellence in the hearts of men and women will live forever, Goodbye Diamond Bank.