I Left Banking Because Of The Evils I Saw There | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe

High Flyer, LIFE

I Left Banking Because Of The Evils I Saw There

Daddy bamgbola...
Posted: Sep 24, 2016 at 5:33 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

*Born A Muslim, But Was Secretly Baptised A Christian – Apostle Bamgbola

Meeting Apostle Alexander Bamgbola for the first time you cannot but notice his convivial, fatherly and charming personality. The God’s Overseer of Zion The City Of The Lord Ministry Incorporated and Chairman of Christian Association Of Nigeria (CAN), Lagos State, is one that many are endeared to for his fearlessness, integrity,  humility and rare leadership style. Chinyere Abiaziem had an exclusive chat with this power-dresser at his Obalende, Ikoyi office where he spoke on his life as a former banker and why he had to leave.

What was your experience like growing up?
My growing up was an interesting one. I was born into a Muslim family and it was circumstantial, very interesting. My parents were in Lagos in the late 30s and 40s. My mother had three consecutive children that did not survive. By the reason of the traditional way of things my grandfather was the Oba and Chief priest of the Ifa and occult people in Kwara then. My mother was told that as long as she kept on bearing children in Lagos that her children will all be dying. When my mother was pregnant then he insisted that my mother came back to have me in my home town. So I was born in my home town. So I survived and they thought it was what Ifa told them. My parents were just humble people. A lot of strange things happened to me as a child. I was also told that I would die if I’m left in my home town.  My parents had to leave to nowhere until they got to a place in Ibadan where they stopped to rest overnight because the lorry they boarded developed fault on the road. They ended up spending 65 years there. The circumstance of my life is so strange. I attended a Christian school though I was from a Muslim home. I loved the Lord; I was in the choir and other groups. My parents left me to do all these and did not object because I was a strange child. I left the primary school for another Christian school, Baptist Secondary School where I became a Christian and was secretly baptised. It was in the late 50s that I came to Lagos where I finished my secondary school and Lagosian, which is why you see me behaving like an area man sometimes because to survive in Lagos you have to be tough and then because of the tribal marks we that had them were always mocked as ‘Araoke’ (stupid people).  So after secondary school I worked in the then Barclay’s bank DCO which metamorphosed into Barclay’s bank International limited, Barclay’s bank Nigeria International limited and Union Bank. I went to America to study and with the help of God I got a banking job there in Houston and I became the international officer and within two years I became an assistant vice president. It was the sixth of the nine largest in the world. We were involved in lending to nations (syndicating banking) in the 70s.  I had to come to Nigeria in 1979 as an expatriate to start a bank here. It was quite interesting to be an expatriate for six years in my own country.

How was the banking experience?
Banking is in my blood; that is where I spent my years. I rose to the position of a managing director in 1985 which I refused to accept because of the terms as I chose to deputy managing director because I wanted to start my own bank. That was the generation of people starting their own bank like Otunba Subomi of FCMB and then others before the younger ones began to own theirs. The reason why I did not start mine was because I wanted to pay the forty percent foreign equity of the bank of Houston.  It took me four years to work on this but it never worked out and eventually when I wanted to start two banks at the same time Babangida, the military president stopped the licensing. So I left Nigerian American Merchant Bank to run Victory Merchant Bank. After three and half years, the Lord told me He needed me and I became tired of banking because of the evil I saw there, which was what led to my early retirement. I could not be a Christian and continue to be the managing director of a bank.

What were the evils you saw?
The evils were so much.  Since I came back to this country the evils in the government and private sectors make me sick. That is why when you talk of corruption in the government it is also in the private sector. The most important part of my life is leaving all to follow the Lord since 1989. My closest friends were Generals, Brigadiers, military men and I lived a rough life.  My friends thought it was a joke and felt I would return back but up till now I have never looked back. By the grace of God never and will never go back.

Can you share your rough life experiences?
Plenty of rough life, but they made life interesting. I was a spoilt child, we did not have anything much but I never lacked. I would say my rough life was when I was in America when I went to school on my own and I had to work to fend for myself. I was given scholarship but I had to work very hard. I had a great ambition and stretched myself. I went to the University of Illinois and laid a record. I had my first degree in finance with the highest honour I could not go to graduate school for my MBA because it was an odd time I had to wait till 1975. So I had to do another degree so I had two concurrent degrees in finance and marketing. I really worked hard so God compensated me with wonderful jobs.  This period was rough but I enjoyed it. My retirement from bank was a rough time. I had to live up the shares and other investment. Then told the Lord I was ready to follow, investments in millions now worth billions. I got to a point where I would not take bribe; that is why today I do not have any material thing. I only have Christ Jesus. There is no one that rose to the position of bank manager that will not have a minimum of two houses. I went to defend this country in 1983 when this country collapsed practically; similar to what we are facing now and every international financial institutions left this country and they could not lend any money to this country. We could not import because there was no foreign exchange to back it up. I went back to Boston and the president of the bank said ‘Alex we trust you’ and they approved $60million. I chose to make Nigerians use it, amongst them was Arthur Eze. Cars, houses and several gifts were coming but I rejected them. I never took gifts.

But why don’t you accept gifts?
It is part of my principles. I don’t take gifts. Gifts make one to compromise. I’m not talking of genuine or the gifts that come from the heart. I also won’t give bribes. One of the firms the Lord asked me to stay with, we had to drop Shell because we won’t give them bribe but they came back to us.

You are known to be stylish in your dressing and have been observed lately to appear more in priestly wears?
That is the way I have always been. In our family we are used to dressing in a classy way. It is our nature and it is not as if it is expensive. I just like to be different. I specifically told my designer to make my ecclesiastic wears the way he makes them.  Today, this interview day is my first time of wearing suits in several months. That is why you see me wearing ecclesiastical with my skull cap and simple wears. Even when I travel to America that is the first thing they say. My ecclesiastical wears have spiritual connotations. I bought several colours of the skull cap but when the Lord began to speak to me I called those who make them to make only white colour for me and this is what I will be wearing for the rest of my life. It is a priestly way of dressing and it also signifies a mantle.

Is there anything you will like to amend if given the chance?
The only thing I regret is; not knowing the Lord on time. I got born again when I was 46 years old. I was about leaving secondary school when I knew Christ but backslid, grew up and became a rascal, enjoying women and drinks. I had so much money. In essence, the serious regret is not knowing Christ early enough. If I have to live my life again I would do that in righteousness and holiness. Anything not pointing me to heaven, count me out. I have no material regret. I got rid of my house but I gave the best to my children. One of the things that give a man of my age joy is what I did for my children in bringing them up in the way of the Lord. I gave birth to my last child here but the other three were delivered to in the United States. God is helping them and I am able to eat and sleep well, no one is knocking on my door to ask if ‘he is one of them’.