A Rare Dialogue With The Man Who Started Lower Pra Rural Bank. - Emmanuel Oscar Atta-Peters
Born September 15, 1933 and attended Kings College from 1953 to 1955, Mr Atta-Peters married Christiana in Tema in 1951. They are blessed with three sons and a daughter.
He began his banking career with Barclays Bank in 1958 as a clerk because “I did not have any secondary school certificate. I attended evening classes while working at Barclays”. He was made a cashier in 1951 and was transferred to the Tema Branch
of Barclays Bank. He was again transferred to UTC Accra Branch of Barclays Bank and later “promoted to an Officer position and transferred to the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Branch of the same bank”. According to the erudite 86-year-old, he was again transferred to the Koforidua Branch of Barclays Bank just after a year of work at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle Branch.
In 1969 he travelled to the United Kingdom for a three-month training and “on my return I was posted to the Tepa Branch of Barclays as the Branch Manager. I later joined the relieving duty pool where I relieved managers for two years throughout the breath of the country. I spent about a month
and half at every branch for relieving duty. After my last relieving duty at Tamale, I was transferred to Akim Oda to help solve some pending issues at the branch. I worked there for three years and resigned from Barclays Bank”.
Brief unemployment and beginning of rural banking
He revealed that “I became unemployed for about a year and later joined the Kintampo Rural Bank as the Manager in 1979. In 1982 I had problems with some directors of the bank; most of them were not adhering to the Bank of Ghana’s (BoG) regulations because those Directors felt they were in charge. Some Directors took loans without going through the right process and did not want BoG to approve their loans. I was not in their good books because I wanted the right things to be done. I quickly discussed the problem with one Mr Hezel of Esiama Rural Bank (now Ankobra West Rural Bank) and he sought clearance from BoG and I started work at Ankobra West Rural Bank as a Manager in 1982”.
Founding Essamaman Rural Bank (Lower Pra Rural Bank) “Sometime along the line, while I was managing Ankobra West Rural Bank, I was consulted by the BoG to assist the people of Shama to establish a rural bank in the area”. According to Mr Atta-Peters, “the people of Shama had a serious chieftaincy dispute, which was hindering the formation of the bank. I played a major role by travelling to Shama every weekend to campaign and source for funds. God being so good, I had support from my father and one Alhaji Mumuni who helped resolve the chieftaincy crisis at Shama”.
To the joy of all the indigenes of Shama, “Bank of Ghana accepted our proposal and on August 31, 1983 and we established Essamanman Rural Bank “now Lower Pra Rural Bank”.
He said he had to play dual manager roles, serving as Manager for both the then newly established Lower Pra Rural Bank and Ankobra West Rural Bank at the same time. “I had to sacrifice and work from Monday to Wednesday at Ankobra West then continued from Thursday to Friday at Lower Pra Rural Bank. Even though it was very hectic, I managed to work for ten months in the two rural banks”.
He therefore served as the General Manager for Lower Pra Rural Bank from 1983 to 1988.
Resignation from Lower Pra Rural Bank
He said he had to resign from Lower Pra Rural Bank in April 1988 because of the continuing chieftaincy dispute at the time, which was affecting the performance of the Bank. He revealed that BoG officials paid a working visit to the Bank and the Directors were also invited. “I informed BoG officials about the interference of the chiefs in the operations of the bank, a situation which was resulting in underperformance of the Bank. The Directors were not happy about the truth and I therefore was forced to resign”, to which he said he gladly obliged.
Second stint with commercial banking
He joined the Cooperative Bank in June 1988 and was posted to Sampa in the Brong Ahafo Region where he worked for three years before being transferred to the Koforidua Branch of the Cooperative Bank. He said the environment at the Bank was very hostile because the previous Manager of the Cooperative Bank had bolted with customers’ deposits.
He stated that he “was transferred in 1992 to the Cooperative Bank Training School in Accra”. The frank and blunt Mr Atta-Peters said he could not perform very well at the Training School since that was not his field. Because “my skills could not be utilized at the Training School, I was quickly moved to Banking Operations Department at the Head Office for about two years. I joined the Audit Department and was promoted after to two years and made Head of Audit Department”.
Transfer to Kumasi At the height of the infamous ‘Al-Life Supermarket’ case, “I was assigned to the Kumasi Branch of the Cooperative Bank”.
He said he discovered, to his shock, the bad state of the branch, adding that, “they created funds when in reality there was no money, a situation he described as “cross firing”. He said the branch was even withdrawing funds against uncleared balances.
“I wrote an audit report and submitted it to the Head Office. As part of the report, I made it clear and emphasized that the demands of a particular customer were above the strength of the Bank because the customer’s demands were causing the Bank to borrow funds in order to meet the customer’s demands”.
I recommended for the closure of the account or the customer to reduce his demand. The customer always wanted a favour from the Bank to meet his demands which was always above the Bank’s capacity.
Topsy-turvy Cooperative Bank sojourn
A satisfied Mr Atta-Peters said as could be seen from his interaction with the Magazine, due to his firm and straightforward nature, he was always sent to troubled areas throughout his entire work. He noted that anytime a trouble spot was discovered at any of the banks he worked with, he was moved there to help stabilize the situation.
He said although he enjoyed the work, there were times he feared for his life because there were alleged murders of some bank employees in those days.
He retired from the Cooperative Bank in September 1999 and became the Director of Lower Pra Rural Bank same year.
He said he “worked as a Director for three months without salary. Bank of Ghana proposed a manager for the Bank but the Board rejected the proposal. I wanted to bring on board my rich experience to assist Lower Pra Rural Bank to survive and it was welcomed”.
The Bank was on the verge of collapse due to panic withdrawals in 1999. Management of the Bank developed a strategy to give teachers consumer loans and that strategy helped to curb the perception that the Bank did not have enough funds to work with.
In the year 2000 and 2001, Lower Pra Rural Bank became one of the strongest in the Western Regions “and it is still the case”.
He vividly recalled the late Mr Nathaniel Arthur as one of the Directors and his good self who helped at the time to improve the fortunes of Lower Pra Rural Bank. He said “we went from house to house, village to village to source for funds and to convince people to continue doing business with the Bank especially in the areas of investments and deposits”.
Relaxing in his home at Aboadze near Sekondi in the Western Region, he “continues to work as a Director of Lower Pra Rural Bank and
a counselor, always advising the fisher folks on how to invest in their businesses. Due to my age I automatically became an elder of the family, the church and the Community”.
“I was very happy when Lower Pra Rural Bank was adjudged the best rural bank in Ghana when I became the Director of the Bank”, he revealed.
He said the Chiefs and members of the Essamaman Community also recognized “my effort and recommended me to propose a name for Essamaman. I was very glad to suggest the name Lower Pra Rural Bank which was generally accepted by all the shareholders and members of the Community”.