National Bank of Nigeria
National Bank of Nigeria was a Nigerian bank established in February 1933, it came under the control of the Western Nigerian government in 1961 and after the creation of states in 1976, the Western States of Nigeria assumed joint ownership. For more than three decades, spanning much of the 1950s to early 1980s, it emerged as one of the largest indigenous banks in Nigeria and along with the old Bank of the North and African Continental Bank, it was described by Pius Okigbo in 1981 as one the Big Three indigenous banks in the country.
In 1992, the bank became distressed and was later liquidated, though it tried to make a return during the early part of this decade after being sold to Odua investment group and Stanmark Assets. It started operations in September 2000 but after a recapitalization exercise, it merged with Wema Bank in December 2005.
Founded in 1933, it emerged partly out of two older but short lived African banks, the Industrial and Commercial Bank and the Nigerian Mercantile Bank both promoted by the Ghananian nationalist Winifred Tete-Ansah, the older banks had among its directors, the sponsor, Candido Da Rocha, Charles C Craft, Alfred Ade Oshodi, David Taylor, Samuel Akiwumi, T.A. Doherty, Hamzat Subair and a few other West Africans. Subair, a nephew of W.A. Dawodu and Doherty left the board of the short lived Nigerian Mercantile Bank and joined Akinola Maja, Akin Adeshigbin and Olatunde Johnson in forming National Bank in 1933. During the first republic, the promoters of the bank were allied with the Action Group and some of them at one point in time held party positions.
Tete-Ansah's first failed banking project was started in grand style in 1929 with the establishment of the Industrial and Commercial Bank but the bank never found a firm footing in West Africa and burnt out in 1930. The new sponsors of the new National bank sort to learn from their experience as board members in some of Tete-Ansah projects and also to understand the short comings of the earlier failed attempts, while they decided to start out modestly. They also included pro Nigerian objectives in their commercial goals and favored a less Pan African orientation. Ultimately the bank generated much of its business from the Western region of Nigeria. The bank was established at a time the global financial community undergoing a difficult time. It started out with about 10,000 pounds in share capital out of which 1,000 pounds was paid.
In 1933, a loan company called Mutual Aids Society became associated with the bank, the loan company engaged in the riskier advances. By 1939, it had become firmly established in the country though on a small scale. After the end of World War 2, the bank enjoyed spectacular growth and its success led to an increase in imitators of its style of African banking. During the growth period, the bank was deeply invested in loans and advances. The Western Region Development Corporation and the Western Region Marketing Board also made deposits with the bank shoring up its assets while the bank counted among its customers the United African Company Elder Dempster and G.B. Ollivant. In 1950, the bank became the bankers of the Nigeria Cocoa Marketing Board.
By 1959, the single largest shareholder was the Western regional marketing board. In April, 1961, the Western regional government assumed full control of the bank. The bank at the time was known for investing in some of the industrial businesses associated with the original shareholders and the new shareholders including in the Nigerian Spinning Company owned by Akinola Maja and co, Amalgamated Press and for providing overdrafts to the Action Group.
In the 1970s, the bank was sometimes beset with management problems and also problems emanating as a result of the Nigerian central bank's regulations. But it still enjoyed growth in the decade especially in paid up capital and branch networks.
- Gabriel Olakunle Olusanya. Fifty years of The National Bank Ltd: A Golden Jubilee
Souvenir, Lagos, 1983