Take-Over Bid By Yar’Adua Caused Death Of Bank PHB, Says Utomi | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Take-Over Bid By Yar’Adua Caused Death Of Bank PHB, Says Utomi

Entrepreneurs, utomi
Posted: Sep 19, 2016 at 5:20 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


After years of silence, Prof. Patrick Utomi at the weekend opened up on intrigues that led to the troubles and eventual death of Bank PHB (Platinum Habib Bank) in 2009.

The bank was one of the eight nationalised by Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, then CBN governor, in October 2009? following the excessive exposure to operators in the oil and gas and capital market sectors of the economy.

They subsequently were acquired by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Fielding questions at the weekend during the Men’s Summit organised by Holy Family Catholic Church, Festac Town, Lagos, Utomi, who was vice chairman of Platinum Habib Bank, blamed the fate that befell Bank PHB Plc on personal interests of the Yar’Adua family.

The ensuing intrigues by the family, he lamented, led to the problems that eventually consumed the then thriving bank now Keystone Bank.

Utomi, who was guest speaker at the event also attended by Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, lamented: “We are in a country where justice is a very difficult thing, and power is abused.

“There was no problem with Bank PHB, the Yar’Aduas wanted to steal the bank, and they used the Central Bank (of Nigeria) to try and devalue it so that they would get their foreign friends to buy it for them, and when the shareholders began to fight, everybody was stuck. That was all that happened.

“Regulatory risk is one of the biggest risks in Nigeria, where regulators are sources of abuse; people who have power use regulators to try and achieve their own personal ends, and this is why foreigners are afraid to invest in Nigeria. It is still going on as we speak.”

Bank PHB resulted from the merger of Platinum Bank, owned and represented by Utomi as chairman, and Francis Atuche as chief executive; and ?Habib Bank Limited founded in 1941, owned by Pakistani investors, as well as families of Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Chief Moshood Abiola.

Utomi, founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL)? and presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC)?, blamed the nation’s slip into recession on the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to heed advice offered over a year ago.

He said it is essentially the result of faulty policies and regulations of the present administration.

He noted that oil “is special in the sense of the revenue it contributes to foreign exchange (contributing) not more than 15 percent of our GDP. If price factors go south in 15 percent of GDP, it shouldn’t drag the entire economy into recession.

“But we made the wrong policy (and it is on record that I said in September last year that this is what will happen from what we are trying to do. This is foolish. I was accused of all kinds of things, but what we said has happened).

“About September last year when this ‘we will not devalue’ thing happened, there was a gap of about six percent between the nominal exchange rate and the purchasing power parity, which is the true exchange rate.

“Now, if you want to buy McDonald hamburger, which is exactly the same in London as in New York and Lagos, how many naira will it take to produce it in Lagos, how many pounds to produce exactly that in London, how many (dollars) in the United States? This is called the big marker, hamburger quotient, which the economist uses to evaluate exchange rate.

“And that time, the difference between Nigeria’s nominal exchange rate (because your major revenue, which is crude oil, is coming south), all that an intelligent leadership needs to do is borrow some assets, ensure that you continue to fund things, use some devaluation to make sure people don’t buy what they don’t need, then watch out for what happens.

“Confidence would be in the system that these people know what they are doing; people will continue to transact their businesses normally. But when someone says ‘we will not devalue,’ people who have money will say ‘ah, this nation can make decisions that can jeopardise our money tomorrow.’

“Even oil companies were not bringing back their receipts, Nigerians who were exporting were not bringing back (forex), and there was a major crisis, and instead of the thing devaluing by six percent, we are down by what we are seeing.”