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Friday, 9 September 2011


On Friday August 14th 2009, the then brand new Central Bank of Nigeria governor Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi hosted a media briefing whereby he reeled out far-reaching reform measures including the mass sack of the then hierarchies of some of the most advertised banks for alleged dereliction of duty and professional misconduct resulting in the disappearance of several billions of depositors’ funds.   

The Central Bank also disclosed that over N400 Billion bail out funds were injected into the five banks to prevent them from collapse which will invariably lead to huge losses of depositors’ funds and massive distress in the nation’s banking sector.

The Central Bank Governor said he took the drastic action to save the Banks from imminent collapse. But some analysts say the Central Bank’s action was selective.

In exercise of its power under Sections 33 and 35 of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991, as amended, the individuals affected by the CBN hammer were Sebastian Adigwe of Afribank Plc, Erastus Akingbola of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Bartholomew Ebong of Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Cecilia Ibru of Oceanic International Bank Plc and Okey Nwosu of Finbank Plc.

Sanusi said their huge exposure to the capital market and massive non-performing loans were the key factors that contributed to the liquidity problems in the affected banks.

Some of the dismissed erstwhile chief executives of the five banks are currently facing criminal prosecutions by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

One of them, Erastus Akingbola took off to God- knows -where and has refused to return to Nigeria to defend himself of charges of alleged looting of the funds of depositors in the Intercontinental bank amounting to over N300 billion.

The ongoing reforms in the banking sector has not tackled the problem of corporate prostitution among workers in these banks who are compelled by their employers to use all means to attract deposits to the banks or face sack from their jobs. For fear of victimization and the consequences of remaining in the nation’s saturated labor market so full of uncertainties, these vulnerable bankers have allegedly become prostitutes.

Another reprehensible out come of the banking reforms is the ongoing mass sack of workers by some of these banks including but not limited to the five rescued banks. Some banks not involved in the rescue mission of Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi like United Bank for Africa, Zenith Bank, to mention just few, have embarked on mass retrenchment of their workers. Unfortunately, the current hierarchy of the Central Bank which received accolades for exposing the alleged crimes in some banks in the country has endorsed the mass sack of workers even when the governor of Central Bank told Nigerians that the reforms will not lead to retrenchment. This is sad.

 The employers of these endangered bank workers should be told to stop the ongoing mass sack because of the adverse economic consequences the action will unleash on Nigeria. The ongoing mass retrenchment in the banks will inevitably lead to the escalation of crime rate because idle minds are devils’ workshops.

 What has happened with the fighting spirit of the Nigerian labour Congress (NLC)? Has the labour union under Comrade Omar so compromised with the powers –that- be that it has lost her fighting powers to protect the interest of these endangered bank workers?

I am one of those who suspect that the involvement of the labour movement in Partisan Politics has weakened the power of the union to defend the interest of workers if threatened by the government of the day or even private sector employers. The Nigerian labour congress must wake up from slumber and save these endangered bankers from mass sack or alternative platforms should be registered to protect the interest of workers who out of pure professionalism do not support the involvement of the labour movement in partisan politics.

It is shocking that the Nigerian labour congress is not concerned that since the consolidation of the banking sector, a rather negative trend has been evolving as regards the need for banks to maintain a reasonable amount of cash deposits and stay ahead of competition.

Unfortunately, female bankers, bear the brunt of this deposits’ craze even as a Newspaper rightly reported that pretty and daring young ladies without much scruples about sexual morality, are target of banks who instruct them to generate hundreds of millions of naira within three to six months using ‘everything they have got’ to achieve this, failing which a percentage of the staff’s salary may be deducted while promotion and other emoluments are withheld. So desperate are some banks that they even distribute Condoms to their female staff ‘just in case’.

The Central Bank Governor was quoted to have told the Federal House of Representatives’ Committee on Banking and currency during a public hearing that corporate prostitution by female bankers in search for deposits exists and he promised to fight the trend.

According to Sanusi; “Yes, this thing is here, although in my over 20 years in the banking industry, I have not experienced where a lady was asked to go and sleep with a man to get deposits. I am sure no bank will say that”. 

 The last part of Sanusi‘s statement amounted to being very economical with the truth, because some of us are eye witnesses to this despicable practice. On the ongoing mass sack of bank workers, I wonder why the Central Bank governor has not deemed it appropriate to bail out these endangered bankers by providing soft loans to the CBN appointed chief executives of the rescued banks and other banks to meet the obligation of paying the monthly emoluments to these workers and to demand that in the spirit of corporate social responsibility, the banks should not embark on arbitrary retrenchment of their workers without negotiations with the union which represents their interest. The banks need not sack their workers if they are serious about working in compliance with bank ethics. It is expected that banks that are professionally proficient should generate enough incomes to meet up with their basic obligations to their workers especially if they cut down on the unnecessary expenses incurred by the chief executives.

 CBN must rescue these endangered bank workers and ensure that those care taker chief executives appointed for the rescued banks do not embark on spending bonanza/spree as recently uncovered by the Daily Sun allegedly in the rescued Bank PHB.

·                     Onwubiko heads the Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria.


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