Now a flash back: Once upon a time in this land, there was this bank fancifully named Bank of the North. To be honest, I do not know nor have I researched the philosophy behind its establishment. All I can glean looking at existing or previous patterns in this land is that, it may have been founded to check-mate the burgeoning economic tentacles of another bank, named African Continental Bank (ACB) or of that other one known as Wema.
It was the days of healthy regional economic rivalry amongst the regions that made up Nigeria. ACB was for the east while Wema was and is still for the west. I do not know if present day Unity Bank replaced Bank of the North.
I know that Unity bank was the product of a tryst involving many fledgling banks of similar socio-political-cum economic hue – banks which could on their own, not meet the stringent recapitalization requirements of the banking reform days. I also know that the Bank of the North (BON) was for the north. BON had a beautiful logo ornamented with cowries and cereal, and some hard to decipher Arabic scribbling.
I have researched to confirm that it practiced a form of Islamic banking. At its apogee and great heights, Bank of the North ruled the financial landscape of northern Nigeria and beyond. And like everything that symbolized northern Nigeria or Hausa/Fulani/Islamic hegemony over the rest of the land, it used to be headquartered in Kaduna. It was from Kaduna, that it stretched its operational tentacles even into Onitsha and Port Harcourt where, as was foretold by its founders, it met the Niger at the Atlantic Ocean.
And that it was heavily patronized by the government of the north and most notable government and quasi government (state and federal) institutions including universities located in the north. At its peak, it gave out loans and financial assistance to those institutions and persons that patronized it. It charged interests, appropriately and handsomely with or without Islamic considerations. Continue reading