CALL TO BRING
Story: Atta Kwaku BOADI
On Monday May 23rd, 2022, The Today newspaper carried a plea by the prominent and well-respected Bamvim Lana, paramount chief of the Bamvim traditional area, Mahama Abdulai to the President of the Republic to back calls by many individual Ghanaians to bring back GN Bank, a financial institution that in the opinion of the chief, has brought unprecedented growth and development to his area and the entire of the northern Region.
The paramount chief recalled how GN Bank operations in the central business district of the Tamale metropolis and other towns like Saboba, Tolon, Nandom, Walewale, Salaga, Lamashegu, Tamale Central and Fufilso, enhanced the business lives of the people in these townships. Indeed, most townsfolks in other Northern areas like Karaga, Gushegu, Yendi, Bimbilla, Wulensi, Chemgba, Zabzugu, Chereponi, Saboba, Savelugu, Nanton among others till today talk about how GN Bank improved their economic lives.
Today monitored several radio and television stations and social media platforms for reaction to the Bamvim Lana’s call to bring back GN Bank. The news item was discussed on ATV, GTV and many others. In Tamale, Diamond Radio’s discussion of the topic received more than 50 phone calls and messages. All but one of them hailed the Chief for his “wise and timely” intervention. A number of them said as farmers, they used to keep their monies in their farms, at home and sometimes lost them through theft or fires. But GN Bank taught them how to save money securely and enabled them to expand their commercial activities.
The call by Bamvim Lana has elicited spontaneous reactions throughout the country. It was as if the Chief’s call had been the silent concern or worry of many Ghanaians who perhaps, were only waiting on the periphery to explode, just with a sparkle. And that flicker was provided by Na Banvim. For instance, in the Volta Region as Today monitored, callers into radio discussions expressed worry about how most economies of their local areas had deteriorated since the collapse of GN Bank.
Some of them boldly disclosed that they personally benefitted from GN Bank’s Micro Finance Enterprise scheme where they accessed loans as low as GHC200.00 to invest into their small scale businesses. Others lauded the easily and proxy banking approach of GN Bank which made it possible for them to deposit their monies mostly in the evenings before they went home.
There were other sour tales of how many GN Bank clients paid back their loans with ease, using the many GN Bank models, but are now left to wallow in the unfortunate situation that the Bank finds itself. “I still remember how GN Bank mobile bankers will come to us in the markets to collect their susu loans and record them for us immediately. What’s more interesting is the fact that the mobile bankers will collect any amount at all we can afford”, one Etornam, a beneficiary of GN Bank’s susu scheme in the Volta Region disclosed to the Today newspaper.
There were many others from the Northern, Central, Eastern, Bono and the Ahafo Regions who narrated tales similar to that of Etornam’s. What’s pathetic about their stories is that today, their economies are in total ruins after the collapse of GN Bank. Through its micro-finance scheme, GN Bank helped these individual clients to establish micro business enterprises that fetched them fortune.
At the Agbogbloshie tomato and onion markets, the Today newspaper discovered how the closure of GN Bank has affected businesses of tomato and onion sellers. Most of these traders are people of Northern extraction. In the busy days of GN Bank, they did not only get soft loans from the Bank, but also took advantage of the Bank’s networking system which made it possible for them to deposit their monies in GN Bank in their localities and accessed them later at their business destinations.
The system, according to these clients guarded them against possible high way robberies of their funds and also made them travel very light. In the case of GN Bank customers who claimed they work around Ghana’s border towns and villages around the Republic of Togo, GN Bank ensured that they were not unduly harassed by border personnel.
“I am a Ghanaian, but had most of my businesses in Togo. Most of the time I deposit my funds at the Aflao branch of GN Bank, walk through the border and take my money from a First National Savings and Loan facility in Lome, the Togolese capital,” Enyonam Attitsogbui disclosed. The First National Savings and Loans was a loan facility of GN Bank. That one and the one in Benin have since been closed due to the withdrawal of the GN Bank license.
After the abrupt closure of the Bank, many of the GN Bank buildings in these locations are being left to decay. And this is has constituted the headache of many GN Bank customers who feel it’s about time the Bank was brought back. These individual GN Bank customers are not oblivious of the fact that the GN Bank case is still under the arbitration at the court.
That notwithstanding, the customers believe the GN Bank case is still within the purview of the President of the Republic to intervene considering the fact that it’s the only facility that most regular Ghanaians, in the past relied on for their livelihood. They’ve also been following the GN Bank case from Ghana to the botched adjudication against owners of the Bank in the United States, and wonder if at all, there was any basis in the myriad of accusations levelled against GN Bank, its owners and share-holders.
Besides the obvious machinations against the Bank, GN Bank’s facilities and other equipment in many places have been left to either rot away or stolen. In some instances, some of the Bank’s facilities were transported to unknown destinations without the knowledge of the owners and other stakeholders of the Bank. This triggered a mass hysteria that instantly received national attention from customers, and others who had in the past, benefitted immensely from the products and services of GN Bank.
It was on the basis of what seemed a blatant closure, neglect and thievery that some prominent Ghanaians, including traditional rulers and other opinion leaders particularly, the distinguished chief of Banvim is urging the administration to as a matter of urgency, bring back the livewire of many economies in Ghanaian local areas, towns and districts.