Uzoma Dozie had the world on a string. A thoroughbred silver spoon with Ivy League education, his father, Paschal Dozie, is one of Nigeria’s foremost businessmen with interests in virtually all the lucrative sectors of the economy. Uzoma also had a thriving banking career which began at Guaranty Trust Bank back in the mid-90s and culminated in his appointment in 2014 as the group managing director and chief executive officer of Diamond Bank Plc founded by his father. The older Dozie was CEO until 2006 and later, chairman and majority shareholder. With Uzoma’s youthfulness and qualification – an MSc in Chemical Research from University College, London and an MBA with specialization in Finance from the Imperial College Management School, London – and solid banking experience at GTB and defunct Citizens Bank before joining Diamond Bank as Manager and Head of the Oil and Gas Unit, he was expected to take the bank to the top of the pack. He had no way of knowing the string would soon snap.
Signs that the bank was not as healthy as publicly represented began to emerge when in 2017, it sold its subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and West Africa, saying it wanted to focus on the retail banking opportunities available in Nigeria. Later, the bank announced that Mr. Oluseyi Bickersteth, the recently appointed Chairman of the board and three Non-Executive Directors; Messrs Rotimi Oyekanmi, Juliet Anammah and Aisha Oyebode, have all resigned from the Board of Diamond Bank Plc with immediate effect for personal reasons. This set many tongues wagging that all was not well within the bank. Then, the news of Access Bank’s takeover first made the rounds but it was quickly dispelled.
On November 30, the bank announced that it would now trade as a national bank, having relinquished its international operating licence and that its shares, assets and liabilities will be absorbed by Access Bank. According to a newspaper report, the older Dozie used his shares in MTN as collateral to take a loan from Guaranty Trust Bank to buy shares of Actis, a private equity firm that invested in Diamond Bank in 2007. Under the new arrangement, the Dozie family and every other Diamond Bank shareholder will get two Access Bank shares for every seven Diamond Bank shares owned. It is a tough period to be in Uzoma’s shoes and to be a Dozie. Blames have been heaped on his shoulders as many claim that had his father still been in charge, Diamond Bank would not have gone into acquisition. Just as many contend that had Alex Otti, Uzoma’s predecessor, still been in the saddle, the bank would have remained an industry force.
A statement on the bank’s website lends credence to this; “Under Dr. Alex Otti’s stewardship, Diamond Bank made a remarkable return to profitability and has continued to record impressive growth across all performance indicators year-on-year. It was also under his watch that the bank established an international subsidiary in the United Kingdom, in addition to expansion in Francophone West Africa (Senegal, Togo, and Ivory Coast).”
What next for Uzoma now that the family-owned bank has been taken over right under his watch?