Hatib Janneh, one of the Gambian shareholders of the Arab Gambian Islamic Bank, has expressed disappointment with the recent modus operandi of the bank, saying since FinBank Plc took over AGIB, the Gambian subsidiary has not been employing Gambians as it should.
In his intervention during the annual general meeting of the bank held on 8 May at Coco Ocean in Bijilo, Mr Janneh noted that most of the staffs (including senior management) of other banks in the country are Gambians while AGIB has failed to improve on this area and at the same time going backward rapidly in financial performance than imagined.
“So I hope you will excuse me if I express my disappointment on this matter,” he said.
Mr Janneh, who told AGIB management that his involvement in the Gambia banking sector started long ago, said: “I can remember criticizing Standard Chartered Bank on this matter 25 to 30 years ago and for me to start criticizing AGIB, of which I am a shareholder, I think is too much.
“I hope this matter will be looked at very carefully because I think we (local shareholders) will not be satisfied with a bank that continues not to employ Gambians because maintaining foreign staff among other things increases the expenses of the bank and also deny locals of that opportunity to be employed. I hope to see some improvement at the next AGM.”
He also expressed his dissatisfaction about the lack of regular board meetings of the bank. He revealed that the board of the bank never met for the whole of last year, which he said is also due to few Gambians involvement in the board.
He said: “I can certainly remember that when AGIB was about to be taken over by FinBank, they promised to sufficiently Gambianise the bank but I am disappointed this is not the case two years after because I understand that for the whole of last year, there was no board meeting because foreign members of the board could not come and the local board members cannot form a quorum to have board meeting.
“I hope FinBank will look into this matter and restructure the board to include many Gambians so that even if the others outside cannot come, the meeting can be held.”
In response, the chairman of the board of directors of AGIB, Adam Nuru, said the parent company of AGIB, FinBank Plc in Nigeria, last year appointed an interim management to try and recapitalize the bank in line with the regulation of the Central Bank of Nigeria and that took a lot of time.
He explained further: “However, I am happy to inform the AGM that FinBank Plc is now adequately capitalized through the acquisition by First City Monument Bank (FCMB).
“The process of recapitalization put a lot of pressure on the executive members of FinBank some of whom are also involved in executive capacity at the bank.
“The good thing I can say is that today (8th May) we had a meeting of board of directors and we have resolved that meeting will be held more regularly now that the parent company has been resolved to normal capital; going forward this will not be the case.
“The reason basically why there was no board meeting for the whole of last year is because FinBank, which is the greater shareholder in AGIB, was having its own challenges in recapitalization, but now that is successfully overcome.”
Mr Nuru said that at the level of the board, they want to include more residents on the board so that the challenge of people having to come all the time “is reduced considerable”.
“The board recognizes the need for more involvement of Gambians and has even met the Central Bank of The Gambia to express our desire to actually get more Gambian involvement not only in terms of shareholding but also in the senior management of the bank. We have discussed a number of initiatives with the CBG which will lead to more involvement of Gambians.”
AGIB board chairman continued: “We, as FinBank, have a long term interest in working with all Gambian stakeholders because we believe the more Gambians are involved is better for us investors and the community that we serve. In this vein, we have tried in the past to develop the capacities of our Gambian personnel and we have actually sent a number of them for training but unfortunately when they came back, they resigned.”
Mr Nuru reaffirmed that as part of the plans to further recapitalize AGIB, a lot of emphasis is going to be placed on the Gambian community taking a bigger share of the bank. And also hopefully over the next 48 months we have plan to replace the executive management with locals and have already shared this idea with the CBG and are working with them to implement it.
Explanation demanded on drastic reduction of the bank’s profit
Hatib Janneh again raised eyebrows about the drastic reduction of the bank’s profit and demanded an explanation from the management of the bank as regards the cause.
AGIB’s financial performance in 2011 is rather unimpressive as it registered an after tax loss of D47 million from a profit of 1.2 million in 2010 but as the chairman of the board, Mr Nuru, explained, this was due to the clean-up process that the bank has undertaken since last year.
“The cleanup of the bank’s book initiated during the period meant that the Bank increased its level of provisioning for non-performing loans from D10.4 million in 2010 to D26.5 million, an increase of over 154%,” Chairman Nuru said.
“This inevitably affected the profit performance of the bank as the profit after tax figure moved from a positive of D1.2 million in 2010 to negative of D7.34 million in 2011. Consequent on this, all relevant profitability ratios declined when compared to the 2010 figures.”