By Abuchi Onwumelu
Following the alleged plans by the Management of Union Bank PLC to close down and relocate the Enugwu-Ukwu Branch of the bank the indigenes and residents of Enugwu-Ukwu Community, in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, have called on the Management of the bank to rescind its decision of relocating the bank.
Customers of the bank, traders in the community, residents and indigenes, were unanimous in condemning the move.
Some of those who spoke to Fides included, Chief Matthias Amasianya, a retired civil servant who has banked with the Union Bank since his retirement eleven years ago; A petty trader in the Community, a Union Bank customer, Mrs Theresa Nwizu, and a community stakeholder, Honourable Captain Obierika and Mr Chukwuebuka Okoli, all said no when asked if they would want the bank branch to be moved as they bemoaned the hardship the move would bring to the members of the Community, especially the local women, who, they said, depended on it for their daily transaction.
Their words, ‘Enugwu-Ukwu, a community with eighteen villages, an emerging urban community that connects many communities, including Nawfia, Nri, Nimo and Abagana, and located at the heart of Old Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, could boast of a population density of over four hundred and fifty thousand.
‘This potential has created huge economic opportunities for the Community hosting markets, a commendable number of small, medium and micro enterprises, three star hotels, museum; qualities that would be a sought-for destination to host any bank branch.
‘It, therefore, becomes surprising that a bank branch that has serviced the community for over thirty years since it was cited in 1988 through the efforts of the late Chief Mike Nkwoji (Mike Merchandise) when Paul Ogwuma was the MD of Union Bank, would want to relocate in the glory days of the community,’ they stated..
Getting to the palace of the traditional ruler of Enugwu-Ukwu, Igwe Ralph Ekpeh, another group of youth leaders and traders at Nkwo Market, Enugwu-Ukwu, were already protesting the planned relocation set for 31st January, 2020, if members of the Community failed to raise between one-point-two and one-point-five billion naira in deposits for the bank branch within six months.
The protesters had placards with inscriptions, “Ndi Enugwu-Ukwu Worldwide will boycott Union Bank if they close Enugwu-Ukwu Bank Branch”; ”Enugwu-Ukwu Elders appeal to Union Bank to save Our Bank Branch”: “Nkwo Enugwu-Ukwu Traders say ‘do not close Union Bank Branch’ ,” among many other inscriptions.
After a closed door meeting with representatives of Union Bank to find an amicable solution, some members of Enugwu-Ukwu Royal cabinet, were all in support of the bank’s continued existence in the community, while noting that the purpose of the bank in the community was to promote social investment, support local women and the elderly, as well as boost small and medium scale enterprises.
The Traditional Ruler of the Community, Igwe Ralph Ekpeh, for his part, described the attempt to close the branch as disheartening and asked the bank to review their decision for a better relationship with members of the community.
Chief Uche Nworah said it was surprising that the bank’s management was even considering closing the Enugwu-Ukwu branch.
‘Certain decisions should not just be made for profit reasons. We find it harsh that after 30 years of hosting Union Bank in Enugwu-Ukwu, they will turn back and demand that we raise fixed deposit of N1.5B or they will close the branch.
‘We do not understand the categorization. Our conclusion is that the management wants to sacrifice Enugwu-Ukwu branch so as to sustain the new branch they opened in December 2019, at neighbouring Amawbia, the hometown of Emeka Emuwa, Union Bank’s MD,’ Nworah said.