Femi Olawole is an accountant, writer, journalist, author and poet. He is a Nigerian based in the USA. His first book, A TOWER OF MAMMON an account of his experience in NAL Merchant Bank, the first merchant bank in Nigeria, was published in January 2021, same month he started writing it.
He shares his thoughts with Oludare Sorunke, Managing Editor, BLACKWASH.
Can we meet you?
My name is Femi Olawole. I have been a lot of things at different times; an accountant, freelance journalist, poet and an author. I once contributed a weekly column to The News Journal (Delaware’s top-most newspaper) as a member of the newspaper’s Community Advisory Board. I have also contributed to journals, anthologies and the online/print media across the world. In 1993, I received The Nigerian Media Merit Award in the Business Reporting category for my work, Sailing on Dark Waters, a special report on the travails of Nigerian entrepreneurs in their search for seed capital. I’m in Delaware, United States.
When did you decide to write about your experiences in NAL MERCHANT BANK?
The decision to write The Tower of Mammon was my New Year resolution on the 1 January, 2021.
How long did it take you to write the book?
I wrote the first draft of The Tower of Mammon in one week. It was quite easy for me to accomplish this feat because the materials were all fresh in my head.
How did you get your book published?
It was in collaboration with Amazon.
THE TOWER OF MAMMON is a first-person narrative. Can you say that the accounts were objective?
It was actually in my bid to be objective that I chose to write The Tower of Mammon via a first-person narrative.
Please tell us about your career in NAL Merchant Bank. When did you join the bank and when did you leave?
My career in NAL was simultaneously challenging and interesting. I have the bank, which I joined in 1978 and left in 1995, to thank for my higher education and professional grooming.
Is living in the USA better than living in Nigeria?
Absolutely. Unlike Nigeria, the United States provides a great pedestal for a hardworking person to achieve whatever they set their mind on. And, unlike in Nigeria, no one in America has to go into fasting and prayers in order to have a constant supply of electricity, water and other basic necessities of life.
Can you say that the events that happened in NAL Merchant Bank were only peculiar to the organization or the banking industry?
Sadly, the defunct NAL was just an example of the problem in Nigeria. Like termites, some individuals will descend on a financial institution, mismanage its resources through an act of omission or commission and then turn around to use their loots in setting up new outfits. In the meantime, it’s the innocent people that will suffer the consequences.
What is your next project after THE TOWER OF MAMMON?
Very soon, I hope to start working on a new book project, this time, a fiction.
What specific events can you share with us?
Incidentally, I was placed at a very vantage position which enabled me to experience and witness several strange events while in NAL Merchant Bank. For instance, when I was in the Payment Unit, a driver in the bank tried to use diabolical means to obtain cash from me. There was a time when some of us in the bank were arrested by detectives from the Federal Special Branch for threatening the life of an MD & CEO. And of course, there were personal battles such as a bout of food poisoning and assassination attempt on my life.
I would also like to share the hardest part of writing The Tower of Mammon. While in NAL Merchant Bank, I was privy to a lot of confidential information, many of them involving the personal lives of colleagues. Most memoirs thrive on sensational stories. Initially, therefore, I wanted to throw everything into the book in order to make it “attractive”. In the end though, I changed my mind by keeping several materials, including those considered to be very “juicy” events out. This was a painstaking decision that I had to take at the last minute because the individuals involved were still alive at the time of publishing the book.
How do we reach you? Where can we buy your book?
I can be reached via my e-mail address:
or by telephone: 3023332133
Copies of the book can be obtained by clicking on the following links:
For eBook: https://amzn.to/3j7oy8k
For Paperback: https://amzn.to/3avUsrw