How I be­came bank MD at 39 – Falalu Bello

Weekly Trust - - Front Page - Ab­dulka­reem Baba Aminu & Ab­bas Ji­moh

Malam Falalu Bello, a lawyer by train­ing, has led at least four dif­fer­ent banks at dif­fer­ent times as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor. He re­cently took over as the new Na­tional Chair­man of the Peo­ples Re­demp­tion Party (PRP), from Al­haji Ab­dulka­dir Balarabe Musa, a former gov­er­nor of Kaduna State. He shared parts of his pri­vate life with Daily Trust Satur­day. Ex­cerpts:

Daily Trust: What in­formed your tran­si­tion from busi­ness to pol­i­tics?

Falalu Bello: Hon­estly, I have not tran­sited. I am still a busi­ness­man. I don’t be­lieve peo­ple should do pol­i­tics when they don’t have any­thing to do. I don’t be­lieve peo­ple should do pol­i­tics as a vo­ca­tion. I be­lieve peo­ple should do pol­i­tics be­cause they have some­thing to do. I am not here to make money. So I can­not kill my busi­ness be­cause of pol­i­tics. Maybe I have to re-ar­range it. I don’t have the time to give to the busi­nesses as I used to do, but I would not close down the busi­nesses be­cause of party pol­i­tics.

DT: What would you bring to the po­lit­i­cal arena based on your busi­ness back­ground?

Bello: The im­por­tant thing is you do busi­ness to bring ser­vices, and ser­vices are meant for peo­ple. His­tor­i­cally, I was a trader. I used to im­port, bag, and sell fer­til­izer. So we are go­ing to show peo­ple that we are not in PRP to pro­mote poverty. We are in PRP to make peo­ple own their own po­lit­i­cal party, to make their lives bet­ter. That, to me, is what I am try­ing to do in party pol­i­tics.

DT: Your work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence started in 1980, as a mag­is­trate in Kaduna, be­fore you veered into the fi­nan­cial sec­tor. At what point did you de­cide to make that move?

Bello: I’ve been work­ing all my life. I am one of the few Nige­ri­ans that held po­si­tion at four banks as Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor. The first bank I held, I was there as a worker for 10 years be­fore I be­came the man­ager. I spent four years be­fore I moved into an­other bank; I spent three years there be­fore I was ap­pointed as the man­ager of the Bank of Agri­cul­ture. I served, and left, and that was when I went into busi­ness.

The merger that came as a con­se­quence of the con­sol­i­da­tion pol­icy of Gov­er­nor Soludo, brought me back to bank­ing, when the boards of the banks on which I served, asked me to come and mid­wife the merger, which I did till 2010. I have been a man­ager in my life, and not a busi­ness­man. The busi­ness el­e­ment came in sub­se­quently.

DT: You have headed many ma­jor fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions. What as­pect of your ex­pe­ri­ence would you say you carry from one role to the next?

Bello: Dis­ci­pline. What­ever you do in life, if you do not have dis­ci­pline, you can­not suc­ceed. You are placed to man­age many peo­ple, and you should be a role model to them. For ex­am­ple, ask any­one who has worked un­der me, they can never say I came late to of­fice, even once. It is not by choice, it is a ne­ces­sity. I want to have the moral courage to tell those un­der me that they must come to work on time. I just felt I must do that, so who­ever you are, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, man­ager or mes­sen­ger, you have to come to work on time, be­cause I come to work on time. And I have done on few oc­ca­sion to stop and to clock every­body, be­cause I was there on time and I can query those who came late.

So, you have to have dis­ci­pline to in­still same in oth­ers. Dis­ci­pline and in­tegrity, those two things, and the grace of God, saw me through. I be­came a man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at the age of 39, of a bank that my fa­ther did not even have a sin­gle share. So, add hard work to the mix.

DT: How many of your chil­dren are fol­low­ing in your foot­steps, ca­reer-wise?

Bello: One of them is in AMCON, and one of them read Ar­chi­tec­ture and is busy in Abuja. The next has fin­ished his Mas­ter’s and is go­ing for a PhD. Per­haps the one fol­low­ing my foot­steps is with her hus­band, and they have de­cided that she should con­tinue study­ing. She had a first class in Bank­ing and Fi­nance, and a dis­tinc­tion in Risk Man­age­ment.

I ac­tu­ally have 17 chil­dren, and four wives.

DT: How does some­one as busy as you are re­lax?

Bello: I have fam­ily and friends. Even my small kids en­gage me a lot. I also go on a tread­mill four times a week as a form of ex­er­cise. So you can say fam­ily, friends, and ex­er­cise.

DT: What is your favourite food, and how of­ten do you in­dulge your­self ?

Bello: I am di­a­betic, and have to mind what I eat. I have had it for 18 years, and it is some­thing that some­one can live with. One just needs to watch what one eats. But I ac­tu­ally eat every­thing; what is im­por­tant is the quan­tity you take. My favourite food is Ku­nun Tsamiya and Ko­sai (Akara). For lunch, it is Cous-Cous. You have to align with foods that don’t have too much sugar. Then for din­ner, it is some­thing light, like yo­ghurt and fruits.

Malam Falalu Bello

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