Day La­gos pupils took bank MD to task

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - From Nu­rudeen Oye­wole, La­gos

The 2014 Fi­nan­cial Lit­er­acy Day has come and gone. But for pupils of St. Mary’s School, La­gos it was in­deed a golden mo­ment for them to dis­play bril­liance to vis­i­tors and staff of Union Bank Plc who vis­ited the school for en­light­en­ment and sen­si­ti­sa­tion cam­paign on the fateful day.

Union Bank Plc had or­ga­nized a spe­cial cam­paign in the school to com­mem­o­rate this year’s Fi­nan­cial Lit­er­acy Day.

“If we open ac­counts with your bank, will your bank carry out Com­mu­nity So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in our school?” That was the ques­tion posed by Oyinkan­sola Ango, a pri­mary six pupil of the school, which ac­tu­ally threw the gath­er­ing into rap­tur­ous laugh­ter.

The ques­tion asked by the nine-year-old caught the bank’s Group Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Emeka Emuwa, who was pre­sid­ing over the ses­sion, un­awares. How­ever, Emuwa hav­ing paused mo­men­tar­ily, an­swered Oyinkan­sola’s ques­tion in a way the pupils would un­der­stand.

“With­out the open­ing of bank ac­counts, your school will still get CSR from us,” Emuwa even­tu­ally replied.

But the MD’s re­play in­deed opened a flood­gate of what many de­scribe as highly tech­ni­cal ques­tions from the pupils whose ages ranged be­tween six and nine.

“Will the re­moval of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi as the Cen­tral Bank Gover­nor af­fect the Nige­rian mon­e­tary sys­tem? What has been the pos­i­tive ef­fect of your bank to the de­vel­op­ment of Nige­rian econ­omy? Why must banks re­quest for col­lat­eral be­fore grant­ing loans? Why is it that cur­rent ac­count don’t yield in­ter­est?” These and many oth­ers were the bar­rage of ques­tions St. Mary’s pupils threw at the Union Bank boss.

Though Emuwa suc­ceeded in an­swer­ing all the ques­tions, he nonethe­less got stuck when a pupil asked: “what year was ATM card in­vented?”

Af­ter a pause, the bank MD de­clared that he didn’t know but was quick to state that ATM card was ac­tu­ally used for the first time in Nigeria in 2001. The year of in­ven­tion is what I don’t know,” he added.

Him­self, an alma mater of the school, Emuwa ex­pressed de­light about the pupils’ in­tel­lec­tual prow­ess , adding that it was the bid to give bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to the kids that prompted his bank to host this year’s Fi­nan­cial Lit­er­acy Day in the school.

“We, at Union Bank see op­por­tu­ni­ties such as this, where we are part of the process of ed­u­cat­ing our chil­dren and equip­ping them for the fu­ture, as a priv­i­lege. We be­lieve that a proper fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion will em­power our young ones to make sound fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions in fu­ture.

“In ad­di­tion, as an or­gan­i­sa­tion that is firmly com­mit­ted to the achieve­ment of fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion in Nigeria, we are con­vinced that fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy is a key step in the at­tain­ment of this as­pi­ra­tion,” Emuwa said.

Ear­lier, the bank MD had held an in­ter­ac­tive lec­ture ses­sion with the pupils us­ing a spe­cial Fi­nan­cial Lit­er­acy Cur­ricu­lum de­vel­oped by Ju­nior Achieve­ment Nigeria - a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion fo­cused on ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren about their eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment.

Some of the ar­eas cov­ered in­cluded fun facts about money, il­lus­tra­tions on the need for trade by barter sys­tem, work and in­come, spend­ing money and sav­ing, man­ag­ing money and in­vest­ments.

Ac­cord­ing to Emuwa, Union Bank has been sup­port­ing sav­ings cul­ture among chil­dren and young adults, just as it has been de­vel­op­ing a num­ber of prod­uct of­fer­ings to meet their pe­cu­liar­i­ties.

He said the bank is con­vinced that such di­rec­tion is the right way to go, be­cause the young people are the fu­ture of any na­tion.

In her ad­dress, the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor and Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer of Union Bank, Mrs Oyinkan Ade­wale, who is also a for­mer old stu­dent of the school said the Fi­nan­i­cal Lit­er­acy Day is ac­tu­ally meant to en­cour­age school kids in un­der­stand­ing the im­por­tance of money, what it is used for and how best it can be made to serve the pur­pose and make the great­est im­pact.

“The ab­sence of fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy of­ten leads to the de­vel­op­ment of poor fi­nan­cial habit. And this can have pro­found ad­verse ef­fects on in­di­vid­u­als, their com­mu­ni­ties and the na­tion at large.

“It is there­fore im­por­tant that our chil­dren un­der­stand the ba­sics of fi­nance from an early age,” Ade­wale said.

The ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor fur­ther said apart from the fi­nan­cial en­light­en­ment cam­paign at the school, other school chil­dren in La­gos were in­vited to the bank to have an Open Day ex­cur­sion that will give them the priv­i­lege of ob­serv­ing bank ac­tiv­i­ties un­hin­dered.

In her re­marks, the school su­per­vi­sor, Rev. Sis­ter Pa­tri­cia Chinwe Ok­wuegba, said the school is de­lighted to have been the re­cip­i­ent of the bank’s ges­ture. She ex­pressed con­fi­dence that what­ever knowl­edge gained from the in­ter­ac­tive ses­sion will be avail­able for the kids to tap into for many years to come.

Also, a pupil Ay­obami Davies said her knowl­edge of fi­nan­cial man­age­ment has been sharp­ened and that she will strive to put it into use as she grows older.

“We thank the bank for giv­ing us this kind of op­por­tu­nity. I will tell my par­ents when I get home what they have taught us so that they can sup­port me be­cause I will also like to be a banker,” Davies said.

The Group Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Union Bank Plc, Emeka Emuwa ad­dress­ing pupils of St. Mary school, La­gos re­cently.

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