The recent reopening of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria is causing excitement in the vibrant banking sector and renewing hope of stakeholders in the viability of the bank now renamed Heritage Bank
Sarah Fasanmi could not hold back her tears when the news of the reopening of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, SGBN, as Heritage Bank was broken to her. But they were tears of joy. For several years she agonised over her deposit, which was in millions of naira, trapped in the bank when its operating licence was revoked in 2006. Before now, she had participated in some account verification exercises arranged by the bank. But nothing came out of them, or so she thought. Fasanmi, like many other customers of the bank, is convinced that the latest exercise, which lasted from January 29 to February 28, is for real. She couldn’t have thought otherwise given the fact that her account was successfully validated and her deposits recovered. The account verification exercise was done in Lagos, Ibadan, Ilorin, Abuja, Kaduna, Gusau, Yola, Asaba, Uyo, and Port Harcourt.
Though Adebayo Adeleke, general secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria, an account holder of the bank, did not participate in the last account verification exercise, he had done so in an earlier exercise. “My money was trapped when the bank went down. At the earlier verification exercise, we were made to sign some undertaking that half of our money would be converted to shareholding while half would be made accessible to us through our individual accounts,” he recalled, adding that he won’t be under any pressure to withdraw his money if the bank is doing well, as his desire is to see that the bank survives in the interest of everybody and the economy. Adeleke is not alone. Many stakeholders of the bank and indeed industry analysts say the bank has come to stay.
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