From the banking hall back to the classroom to further his studies, Dr. Richard Osadume made distinction in his PhD programme in Banking and Finance at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Anambra State. In this interview, he tells TUNDE AJAJA why he went back to school and how he combined family demands with his academics
What informed the decision to go back to school?
I was a full-time banker, having at least 16 years of banking experience and risen to the managerial level in a number of commercial banks where I worked. However, I have always had this ambition to get to the top of my academic career and marry it with professional practice with a vision that one day I would have a God-given opportunity to manage and influence financial and economic decisions of this country. That was the motivation.
PhD is never an easy programme but you made a distinction. How did you do it?
Truly, it was not an easy task to make a distinction; it required God and diligence to earn it. During my first three sessions, I was on an average aggregate of four on a scale of five. But I told myself I would not leave the institution with any class of grade below distinction. From that point, I mapped out my strategies as well as endured all forms of resistance from within and outside the academic environment, with God’s help, to earn the distinction. I think that emphasises the essence of being determined, because it could be a drive on its own.
Banking and Finance is more of a professional course and it would seem that people rarely go for PhD in such courses. Do you plan going into teaching?
Teaching is a good option and I’m naturally a talented teacher.
Or would you still like to practise the profession in the banking hall?
Professional practice in the banking industry is also a very good option and l believe it runs in me like in most successful chief executive officers in the industry from my axis of the country. So, it’s also an option.
For the sake of persons interested in the course, whether at the basic or advanced level, what are the other opportunities the course offers beyond working in the bank or teaching?
Really, the course offers several opportunities, including banking, teaching, consulting, financial reporting and regulations, financial analysis, capital market development and management, treasury management and open market operation, public debt management, budgetary, financing, financial advisory, foreign exchange and external reserves management, commodities, futures and options trading, merger and acquisition, factoring and debt recovery and discounting, etc. It entails a whole lot.
Could you take us through your educational journey?
I started my educational journey with Edo State University, Ekpoma (now Ambrose Alli University) where I obtained a BSc in Accountancy (Second class Hons. Upper Division) in 1997 and I did my professional accounting training. I qualified in 1999 as an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ACA); I proceeded to obtain Master’s in Business Administration in Management and in Finance both from Imo State University, Owerri and I became qualified as a chartered banker with the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in 2004. And between 2010 and 2017, I got my MSc and PhD (Distinction) in Banking and Finance from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria. I think I have always had God’s favour on my side to showcase such impressive performance.
How were you able to combine the rigours of the programme with family demands?
I thank God for the wife he gave me. She was very understanding and supportive and she took good care of the home in my absence. She had things well covered and that helped a lot. She’s a good home manager and our children are God-fearing, which also helped. I didn’t have to worry about certain things while I was away.
What strategies did you use to face your study without distraction?
There were times I had to run away from home to study and do assignments. At times, I would run to a nearby university to study and there were times I was there till around 12am. Those were part of the sacrifices one had to make.
Was there any moment you almost gave up?
Yes, particularly during my thesis defence stages when my clearance for other defence stages was withheld. That made me to hold unto God the more and eventually l got through. Also, the financial involvement and logistics were quite challenging, but I thank God I was able to pull through.
What were your most memorable moments during the programme?
The moments were both positive and negative. The positive was the day of my successful external defence, amongst others, and negative was when I was informed about the demise of my first supervisor (late Prof. Alex Mbachu). He was my supervisor and we had built a relationship. At that level, we had gone far and it was not quite easy for another professor to come and take over my work and continue. Also, the emotional effect. This was a man I had built relationship with over the years, and he had been my lecturer and supervisor from my master’s days.
How many of you had distinction in your department?
For my department, I was the only one.
How many were you in your class?
We were about 20 but those that graduated were about eight.
Given your age and years in service, would you say you were one of the oldest in the class?
No, l was even one of the youngest, if not the youngest.
What would you say you did differently from others to make distinction?
Apart from God’s help, I gave myself devotedly to my research studies, attending several trainings and workshops to get my research work right.
Could you share with us the findings of your thesis and the impact on the society?
My thesis focused on the Effect of Foreign Direct Investments on Stock Market Development in Sub-Saharan African Countries. The study showed that foreign direct investment had positive and significant effect on market capitalisation, market turnover ratio, value of stock traded, number of listed securities and the All Share index. The World Bank before now had not recognised Share Index as development indicator for stock markets but we consider its introduction and adoption as a development criterion in Sub-Saharan Africa a necessity due to our peculiar operating environment. The impact of the work on the society, among others, include that the governments of the Sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria should as a matter of urgency create a foreign direct investment friendly-environment for their various economies to attract and sustain the stock of FDIs in the economy since they provide cheap source of funds for local businesses and increase the liquidity level in the financial system. Also, the regulatory authorities and the government of respective Sub-Saharan African countries should streamline and effectively reduce the stock exchange listing requirements, to allow foreign multinational companies doing businesses on our shores but not listed on the stock exchange to be listed. The economy is losing so much owing to the absence of these companies on our exchange.
From your research works and the foregoing, what is the future of banking in Nigeria?
The future of banking in Nigeria is very bright provided the industry operators and regulators play by the rules; there is so much untapped potential in the Nigerian banking landscape and we have only focused on a minute aspect of the retail and commercial banking segment, while other aspects such as wholesale and development banking remain untapped.
As a banker and now someone with rich knowledge, based on research, what should be done for Nigeria to have a better banking and finance sector?
The sector is still at the introductory stage and the level of financial instrument development and application of technology are still very low. My recommendations include that the capitalisation level of the banks should be beefed up to a minimum of N100bn to make them at least internationally competitive and strengthened so as to earn foreign investors’ confidence. The licensing requirements should be reviewed to attract more foreign banks into our local landscape, while increasing employment and economic activities and liquidities. Also, banks should engage in financing activities that will help the economy grow, such as developing the agricultural sector through providing financing and supportive technology to make the nation attain food sufficiency, engaging in power financing to help the SMEs grow, etc. The level of financial instrumentation and technology is still very low; the CBN should in conjunction with DMBs set up a financial instrument factory to develop new instruments that will make us internationally competitive in this area. Then, we should seek foreign help from world financial bodies to jointly combat cybercrime and other financial menace plaguing our financial system.
Issues of capacity development has also been raised; what is your view on that?
Yes, and that centres on capacity development. Our present economic managers have tried but we can see where these efforts have taken us to. Our economy could have been better than what it is today if appropriate capacities were put in their proper position. I dream of an economy where individuals with the right competence and capacities are so given the opportunity to manage our economy and financial base as to take this great nation to her Eldorado.
Now that you are done with your programme and you already quit the banking job, what is the next thing?
Currently, I’m with the Nigerian Maritime University. I believe it’s the starting point and I’m looking at a couple of other things. I’m trusting God that one day I would have the opportunity to be in a decision-making position where I can influence financial and economic decisions.
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