“We’ve built Taraba Savings & Loans into a strong brand” Says GM

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Aminu Mamman Lau is the Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Taraba State Savings and Loans Limited, a primary Mortgage Bank that is licensed to undertake mortgage financing for its customers in Taraba State and beyond. The leadership direction of Lau has brought great transformation to the state’s owned financial institution. He is building the institution into a strong brand and strengthening the capital base of the Bank as well. Few days ago, our reporters visited Aminu Mamman Lau in office with the view to unravel the mystery behind the Bank’s success story and Mallam Aminu Lau did not hesitate to disclose some ideals that are growing the Bank. In a chat that lasted several minutes, Lau disclosed how the institution started, Governor Darius Ishaku’s support for the Bank and his dream for the Bank, among other things.

Our readers might wish to know when this Bank started its operation and what has been done so far to achieve the purpose for which the Bank was established?

We started work here on 1st June 2006 and then our capital base was 100, 000 000 and with time the CBN raised the capital to 2.5 billion we have been working hard. Now we are doing our best and we are grateful to His Excellency the Governor of Taraba State Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku, he has been of great help to us. He understands what we need and he is gradually giving us help and he has been injecting capital into our bank. As I am talking to you now, we have over one billion naira as it lies now and we are working hard, even though, we are located in one place that is the building of Taraba Investment, we believe that so many people have in one way or the other being in contact with our services and have also benefited from us.

I can say without contradiction that from the inception to date, if you total the amount of money that is the cumulative loans we have given to our customers is over one Billion naira (N1b) and this ranges from forty million to 50,000 as the lowest. We have also structured it in such a way that anybody can benefit. We have loans purposely meant for you to purchase lands. This is because you cannot build unless you have land. We structured that in less than two years, if you have as much as N500, 000, 00. N1, 000,000, 00 to N1, 500, 000. 00, depending on how your capacity and salary base is. You collect it and buy land first, when you buy land and you have paid the loan, we now look at the building in three phases, first you build it maybe to lintel stage then later you roof it and then you provide the finishing. All these, we will get the quantity to know how much it will cost and write it down, then we provide you the money in the space of one to three years. Mostly as a civil servant, it is not easy to just go and start building a house just like that. Housing is a project you do over years so we allow you get a systematic way of getting into it. Many people have benefited in one way or the other, either in roofing loan, building loan, renovation or any other way. We do both commercial and residential mortgages. We can assist you buy a shop, build or renovate the shop so that you can do your business very well. These are things we have been doing from 2006 till date. It’s about 14 years now and you can agree with me that we are maturing in it and the volume of transaction we handle now is getting higher and we are pleased that people understand and they love it.

Our loans interest rates are also negotiable depending on the amount. We source loan from Federal Mortgage Bank through the National Housing Loan Scheme. Loan is at single digit interest and if it is 6 percent, all depending on the type of loan and how much you want. These are things we have been doing. I must say that the governor from inception has been giving us assistance. He gave us 100 million, later another 100 million and last year he gave us 300 million to boost our capital. You can imagine what that can do even if you are to give a loan of five million, this will go far and you know this is a thing that evolved. It is not one way, every month you get repayment and extend what you have gotten to other people so it keeps growing.

Everyone needs shelter, clothing and food. These are things you cannot do without. It is when you have all these that you start thinking of education and the rest because when you don’t have where to lay your head, you cannot be happy. We believe we are doing our best; we are working now to ensure that we extend our services to Local Government areas in the state which is part of the plans of our board. We will be going to all Local Governments to open branches to ensure that people in those Local Governments benefit from our services.

What is your plan like, in expanding your services to local areas of the state? What is your dream?

Yes, for this year, we plan to open six branches, two in each senatorial district of the state. We are making plans on it and ensuring that we deliver so as to take our services to the hinterlands of the people of Taraba state. You said we took time being here alone. Yes, we took time to consolidate. We try to consolidate so that the brand will be strong and now we have a strong brand. The Taraba State Investment is a strong brand and we have been profitable. Since 2012, we have not recorded any loss. That is to tell you who we are. And that is to tell you we can be able to last long. The main thing in a business is sustainability. The brand is now strong that is why we are taking time before moving into the hinterlands.

In terms of extension of offices and building of strong brands, and in terms of providing services, or living by the mandate of the establishment of this bank, what is your dream, what do you want to achieve? Because you have actually being here for some time now, what is your way out? So, what is your mission?

Yes, our mission here is to be a strong mortgage institution that will be painted all over the northeast for the first time in Nigeria. In time to come, we intend to use innovative services through technology (I.T) to push our services to have a real time online banking services that you can assess and use anytime, anywhere and at any place. This is what we want to achieve. This is where we want to go and this is what we are planning to do.

What about the staffs’ motivation what have you been able to put together for the staffs working here?

One thing about staff or employee is that, when somebody is employed, you need to give him training after training and you have to make his numeration attractive. I think from the time we started to this time, this is the third review in salary we are having. In my tenure, I reviewed staffs’ salaries twice. When it was 18 minimum, we move our staffs to the appropriate level. Now we have a plan, before the end of this quarter we are going to have another enrollment for our staffs. We make emphasis on training, sometimes we even take them to stronger and more experienced Mortgage Banks like in Lagos to stay two, three weeks, just to see how they work and interact with their staff, after which we come back. We ensure that all of them attend at least one training a year. We make sure that we train them and we also move them from one department to the other, so that they will learn all the things that are in the bank.

We run this contributory pension, we pay our staff their pension fund every month and they receive their alerts. Like me now, I received my January alert, I can show you. By the time you leave service you will know that this is your pension. More to that, we have a robust gratuity program that we have apart from your pension. After every five years, you are entitled to gratuity and it is calculated depending on the number of years you have. What more do you need as staff? I think our staffs are well motivated. They know this is a bank that has the money, they will see that there is money what their needs will be catered for and we will give them loan at subsidized rate, all these things are what we do to motivate our staff and to get the best out of them. And I am happy to tell you that we never had a single court case with anyone for over 14 years. You can imagine what it takes for that to happen. We have a very good relationship between the management and the staff. It is very cordial and very encouraging and symbiotic. We all respect each other and we all see the bank as our own to grow. That is it.

Lastly, what will be your message to Taraban regarding this bank and what you have in store for them and why this bank is better than many banks in the state and in the northeast?

Let me start with this, the Mortgage Bank in northeast we have the Yankari Savings and Loans, Yobe Savings Loans, Adamawa Saving and loans and our own. But today, Yankari is a Micro Finance, Yobe is a Micro Finance and the Adamawa own is not working as our own because they are not moving the way we are moving. So for us here, I will say we have a very strong institution here capable of doing things that you want. What I think should be down is for our people to come around and have a touch of our activities. One thing I know is that any customer that comes in and feels our services doesn’t go back. We have a very high and authentic capacity of our customers. They always love our services. Our head office is here and the process of getting loan here is very simple. For these small loans of 100,000, 200,000 to 2million, you get them within one week our even two three days.

I assure you just talk to any of our customers here and hear whether they have acquired loan tediously. It gets approved easily. It is easy to get approved and here we give all, except for exchange of services. We give all services that you can obtain everywhere. Also people should learn how to grow on their own. I want the citizens to understand that growing Taraba state is like growing yourself, because you are growing a place where tomorrow your children will be employed. You reduce crisis and insurgencies because once somebody is employed; he will not have time to go about creating troubles. So by strengthening the capacity of the company through their patronage, it is like they are helping the state to fight insurgencies, it is also like they are improving the standard of living of their brothers and their children.

From what you have said, Governor Ishaku is creating an enabling business environment in Taraba state?

Of course, If you look at what is happening, for those of us in Taraba investment as a whole, the coming of Arc. Darius Dickson Ishaku has made a lot of head way. For a place like here, Taraba gas, Taraba Vegetable, Mambilla beverages, they are all being strengthened and given the opportunities to unleash their potentials on the scenery. They create employment and other aspects. I don’t think I have seen any administration that has hand in growing public enterprises so that everybody will benefit. I have been the MD for over nine years since the administration of Dan Baba Suntai, so I know what it takes. It is the best in terms of sponsorship of enterprises and local business.

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