Fr Obumse: The Winner of the Microfinance Bank Personality of the Year     

Fr Obumse: The Winner of the Microfinance Bank Personality of the Year     

Fr Obumse: The Winner of the Microfinance Bank Personality of the Year

By Fr George Adimike

One of the interesting aspects of the sacred priesthood is its unity in content, mystery, and meaning and its diversity in expression. Priests operate within diverse socio-religious circumstances; it is a text with multiple contexts. As embodied representatives of Christ on earth, priests bring their gifts and talents to bear on the work. Through those skills and competencies, they labour for the reign of God, integrating stole and towel, or rather service and sacrifice. The priesthood is a divine project, exemplifying leadership as a society-serving, self-bearing and soul-saving mystery. It is a mystery through which moral agents in-personify and typify the mysterious mercy of God and become stewards of sacred treasures and saving mysteries. In short, the priesthood of Christ is a versatile mystery with the sole vocation of being the agency for the holistic redemption of creation. Like other priests, Reverend Father Anthony Obumse deploys his gifts to realise this universal project.

Super-eminently endowed with enviable academic excellence and distinguished delivery, Fr Obumse received the honour of African Microfinance Bank Personality of the Year. The transformation in Oluchukwu Microfinance Bank from the interplay of Fr Obumse’s knowledge, administrative dexterity, discipline and courage running on the leadership fulcrum of Archbishop Valerian Okeke is phenomenal. With three bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy (Rome), Theology (Rome), Management (UNN Enugu Campus) and a Master’s in Business Administration in Accountancy (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka), a Doctor of Business Administration (Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka), and professional qualifications, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Fr Obumse took the Microfinance banking sector by storm. For example, he grew the shareholders’ fund from N167.7 million to N2.9 billion, total deposit liabilities from N329.6 million to N4.9 billion, and total assets from N507.3 million to N8.3 billion, among others, within a short time. Furthermore, he introduced ATMs, Online money transfer and the Bank’s mobile app, which never existed. So, there is no wonder that Fr Obumse has graduated from being the Best Graduating Student in Management (B.Sc) and Accountancy (MBA) to being the Microfinance Bank Personality of the Year by the African Leadership Review, Excellence in Corporate Enterprise and Leadership Awards.

Indeed, in the exercise of the priestly ministry, each person donates himself with his human assets and liabilities. Fr Obumse, in his turn, came into the priesthood with an exceptional capacity for discipline, probity, integrity and focus, helping him to manage financial institutions to an enviable standard and profitability. Indeed, through his ministry, this One Word of God (Jesus Christ) definitively spoken continues to be infinitely spoken with an undying echo in financial institutions. During his formation and tutelage under Archbishop Valerian Okeke, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Onitsha and the then Rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, Tony manifested a singleness of purpose that excludes any duplicity of character. Such a virtue became a major assurance that he imbibed the formation, which readied him for the priestly ministry.

The assignments carried out by Fr Obumse contributed in no little way to developing his potential. From being appointed by Fr Valerian Okeke (now Archbishop Val. Okeke) as the First Auxiliary of Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, Fr Tony was schooled for the greater task ahead. After his ordination, he was appointed the Accountant/Auditor of the Archdiocese, a stint in a parish pastoral setting as a Vicar at St Mary Onitsha and later the Financial Administrator of the Archdiocese. His stellar performance encouraged the Archbishop to appoint him the CEO of the Oluchukwu Microfinance Bank as part of the holistic reform of all sectors. Fr Obumse did not disappoint. He revived a poorly performing bank and grew it to be the leading Microfinance Bank in the South East geopolitical zone and one of the country’s best banks of its cadre. With the support and guidance of the Archbishop, he took the Bank from a moribund status with no branch to a flourishing bank with ten branches across Anambra State, recording a harvest of awards, success stories and stellar accomplishments.

His performance validates that priests do not take up certain offices in the spirit of wannabe but to penetrate the world with the ‘kindly light’ of the Gospel of Christ as an instrument of grace. Yes, it is for its evangelical propriety and exemplary value to serve as a light (cf. Matt. 5:14), salt (cf. Matt. 5:13) and catalyst (cf. Matt. 13:33) for a positive transformation. It is one of the various ways of expressing the motherhood of the Church as one who cares for her children and teaches the essence of such establishments. Through Fr Obumse’s managerial and entrepreneurial acumen, Oluchukwu Microfinance Bank is living abundantly within expectation in the framework of Christ’s manifesto and Archbishop Okeke’s motto: “That they may have life in abundance” (Jn 10:10). It creates wealth and employment, offers credits to small and medium enterprises, supports the works of the apostolate, carries out corporate social responsibility projects and empowerment programs, supports rural evangelisation and promotes the common good. Fr Obumse has, through this assignment, proved to be an outstanding and exemplary gatekeeper of spiritual wares and a gatekeeper of people’s treasures and funds.

Tony has demonstrated himself a disciple who drank from the well of Archbishop Valerian Okeke’s rich virtues: discipline, financial integrity, singleness of purpose and undying pursuit of excellence. As an administrator, Tony excels. As a financial manager, Fr. Obumse excels. Think of accountability, priestly integrity, first-class managerial discipline, and Spartan bank executive, think of Fr Anthony Obumse. Scoring first class in the workplace has antecedents and parallels in his academic pursuit both in the seminary and universities.

Undoubtedly, one must be a highly disciplined fellow to achieve this feat. Discipline is an indispensable capital for the ministry of the priesthood, life of sanctity and pursuit of excellence. No discipline, no greatness! Discipline expresses discipleship, for it spells the necessary quality for salvation. Precisely because holiness of life has faces, facial marks and features, one notices diverse and unique facial marks on the faces of the disciples of the Lord. While these sanctity marks take forms and shapes differently from one face to another, charity remains constant and characterises all these marks. Charity is so fundamental that it can be a synonym for sanctity. Without charity, there cannot be any claim to holiness. And though discipline predominates on the face of Fr Anthony Obumse, there is an immense oasis of charity in his heart, which fuels the generosity of his life.

As we felicitate Fr Anthony Obumse, the Co-ordinator of Financial Services of the Catholic Archdiocese of Onitsha, we wish him more grace to minister in the financial sector of society. Congratulations on leading Oluchukwu Microfinance Bank to a model for the triumph of courage-led, result-oriented visionary leadership. Your leadership dismantles barriers, takes risks, innovates, implements, and delivers on the goals.

Fr George Adimike

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