The bank's destiny had hinged on the tripod stand-the three owners. The handwriting had been on the wall only that it has cleverly been whittled down amicably by concerned friends, colleagues and associates of the principal actors in the current emerging leadership crisis that are threatening to rock the very foundation of the thriving financial institution, Guarantee Trust Bank Plc.
It might be of no consequence at this juncture to recall the skirmishes that reared its head shortly before and after the death of the immediate past MD/CEO, Tayo Aderinokun few years back but the court case instituted against the bank by the eight year-old daughter of the deceased MD, Miss Oluwatise Aderinokun on how the bank allegedly manipulating her father’s major shares in the bank, has suddenly given rise to yet another round of face-offs among the top hierarchy of the bank. The actors involved are Mr. Fola Adeola, the pioneer MD/CEO of the bank, the current MD, Mr. Segun Agbaje and a couple of principal stakeholders in the bank. The contention has been that since Agbaje took over the mantle of leadership at the bank, directly or indirectly, he has been effecting certain measures that have not been favourable to the Fola Adeola and Aderinokun nests of the bank. To the extent that most sensitive management positions are now being occupied by some of Agbaje’s goons in the bank, much to the distaste of certain major shareholders in the bank, especially Fola Adeola, who is believed to be the principal architect of the bank at inception, of course in alliance with the late Tayo Aderinokun.
The assumption in many circles is that, Agbaje who joined the bank in 1991 as a foundation staff, and rose rapidly to executive directorship status before ultimately assuming the head honcho rank, couldn’t have been muscling much executive powers to the detriment of the founding partners, whether dead or alive. But as the internal wrangling raged on, albeit in under currents and silently being handled by the concerned parties, the little Oluwatishe Aderionokun court case has simply shown that the matter is far from being settled, as it has opened up more wounds than closed them up. Contemptuous as the case may be now, observers in the financial circuit are beginning to read a riot act from different corners of the divide. With the tenure of Agbaje gradually coming to a statutory end as the MD, some senior staffers of the bank who are presumably not in sync with Agbaje’s management style, are already planning to turn in their resignation, before the long arm of Agbaje catches up with them in the unfolding super power tussle in the bank.
Their assumed contention is that Agbaje may use them as the sacrificial lamb by checking them out, within his executive powers, before his tenure lapses. On the other hand, the de facto founder of the bank, Adeola, is allegedly also not said to be taking the matter lightly, since he might probably have an upper hand in who succeeds Agbaje, and as such, might bring on someone who will come in to come and clean the Augean stable, purportedly created by Agbaje.
Invariably, the next MD might be used by Adeola to equally flush out known disciples of Agbaje upon his exit. The situation also might get more complex, if going by rotation, the next MD after Agbaje’s successor will automatically come from the Aderionkun nest, and the witch-hunting exercise might just continue. Perhaps this is why the case of little Oluwatishe is not being taken with kids’ gloves by her mother, Mrs. Salamotu Aderionkun.
Sources believe that if the substance and grounds of the case are decided in their favour, then the substantial shares of Aderinokun’s in the bank will stand them in good stead for a deciding factor in critical decisive matters that concern who gets what in the bank, especially when it comes to the turn of the next CEO of the bank at the appointed time.
All these are still conjectural, but industry watchers remain undaunted in their belief that this is where the rather unpleasant matter is grinding to, and the verdict or judgment of the Federal High Court will go a long way in giving a breather to the scenario. Financial experts are also trite in their aversion that this is common in many jointly-financed companies, as the death of one or more principal founders/partners often leads to premature or total collapse of the organization. For the records and even to whet your appetite on how the whole unpleasant matter reared its ugly head, certain faceless people and rabble-rousers had years back gone to town with the unfounded rumour that there was no love lost between Adeola and Agbaje. They had claimed then that the two financial guru were dangerously poised to tear at each other like loaded guns. They predicated their argument on the frosty relationship that ensued between Adeola and late Tayo Aderinokun with whom he founded the bank. The duo allegedly fell out with each other and subsequently related like cat and dog until Aderinokun unfortunately passed away. Agbaje however, incurred Adeola’s detest, courtesy his known chummy relationship with late Aderinokun. The current GTBank M.D was very close to Adeola’s late partner and thus became his foe by default. No sooner did Aderinokun die, did Adeola and Agbaje acknowledge their undisguised contempt for each other, they claimed.
The relationship between Adeola and Agbaje has reportedly deteriorated to the extent that there are fears in high-powered circuits of the banking sector that if eventually Adeola succeeds Godwin Emefiele as the CBN governor, as it was being touted then, he would gun for Agbaje, subject him to a tough inquiry and make mincemeat of him. For now, no one knows where the matter will gravitate to but the tell tales of an imminent cold war among principal stakeholders are daily being relayed within the bank. It is that unsavoury for the once ‘guaranteed bank’ whose esteemed customers might be the ultimate end-losers if the unexpected happens.