By Mazi Obioma Ezenwobodo
Mr. Pascal Dozie founded and nurtured Diamond Bank from 1991 to 2005. After growing the bank to an enviable height for 14 years, he relinquished the Chief Executive position to Mr Emeka Onwuka at the end of 2005. His exit would however be heralded with improved performance of the bank, which recorded a profit of N5.445 billion for the year 2005.
Onwuka, effectively took over from January 2006 and steadily grew the bank to profit after tax of N3.977b in 2006, N7.086b in 2007, N12.82b in 2008 and N1.328b in 2009. The bank posted loss of N11.214b in 2010 and another loss after tax of N13.940b in 2011.
Alex Otti took over in 2011 and in his first full year of 2012 the bank posted a profit after tax of N22.108b, N32.5b in 2013 and N28.36 when he handed over in 2014. The bank also saw its total assets rise from N564.9b in February 2011 to N1.18 trillion by December 31, 2012 and N1.52 trillion in 2013.
Otti doubled the full staff count from around 2,000 in 2010 to over 4,000 in 2014. He expanded the bank's network from 210 branches in 2011 to over 265 branches three years later. Under his watch also, the bank established an international subsidiary in the United Kingdom, in addition to expansion in Francophone West Africa (Senegal, Togo, and Ivory Coast).
Otti's performance was so sterling that the Central Bank classified the bank as one of the eight systematically important banks in Nigeria under his watch. Otti's era was the golden era of the demised bank.
Then entered Uzoma Dozie, the son of the founder Pascal Dozie, as the Chief Executive of the bank in March 2014 and the bank’s fortune started nose-diving.
In 2015, his first full year as head of the bank, the bank’s profit after tax went down from N28.36b to N5.656b. It went down further to N3.499b in 2016 and a loss of N9.011b in 2017.
In 2017, noticing that it could no longer continue to cope with losses from its subsidiaries, the bank sold its West African operations in Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal to Manzi Finances S.A., a Cote d’Ivoire-based financial services holding company and the bank later sold its United Kingdom’s operations.
In 2018, the bank went into coma and had to be merged with Access Bank.
Competence, not family ties, grows business. Until Nigerians learn to separate these two, the end will always be sad.