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Bank workers want CBN to probe itself over crisis

By Victor Ahiuma-Young   & ifunanya Okafor
ORGANISED labour in the nation’s financial sector has said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has a major blame for the misconduct and current crisis in the banking arising from ongoing  special examinations which has resulted to the sacking of the executives of five banks and called on the apex bank to investigate itself.

Sanusi
Sanusi

Under the umbrella of  Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), labour specifically asked the CBN to investigate the auditors being sent to the banks to look into their accounts who after spending close to six months in the banks would give the banks clean bill of health.

At a press conference at the Ikeja Central Business District headquartres of the association, Acting President of ASSBIF, Comrade Sunday Salako,  however commended the governor of CBN, Mr. Lamido Sanusi and the board (CBN) for harnessing the requisite political will to sanction erring Managing Directors and Executive Directors of five banks for flouting stipulated regulations on sound, professional corporate governance and credit risk management practices.

According to him: “This initiative is in tandem with ASSBIFI’s resounding campaign for a thorough overhaul of the financial industry so that the financial sector reforms can percolate down to the real sector of our national economy; we have severally written to all the regulatory agencies and oversight bodies including the National Assembly Committees on Banking and Financial matters. We have raised issues of unprofessional and unethical practices and we believe that the current campaign by the CBN Governor must take note of the dire need to deal with the problems of insider trading, alienation of the banking system from the real economy, Forex abuse and round tripping, outsourcing, unreasonable target setting, corporate prostitution of employees, hidden account maintenance charges and unseen interest rate escalation and other prevalent vices.

It is imperative that we specifically call the attention of the regulatory body to do a soul searching of the activities of  its  own  house  because  it  has  conducted  several  routine  and  special examinations of these banks and gave them clean bill in recent years, yet the rot in these banks have been on-going for years. In most cases, officials of CBN sent to the banks spend not less than six months after which they give these banks clean bill of health. In fact, it is not more than three months ago that the auditors from the  CBN gave these banks clean bill of health. What has happened with this short period that all these are happening? How come these CBN officials did not discover all these toxic loans or assets? Even the external auditors to these banks also have questions to answer because they also gave these banks clean bill of health.”

The association also cautioned the CBN against converting the N400 billion intervention fund to equity, stressing that besides that it could lead to some individuals taking over these banks through the back doors, it may also y negate the purpose of the bail out.

For the workers, any     conversion of the     bail out fund to equity would not be in the interest of share holders of the affected banks, who were not involved in the misconducts and urged the CBN to consider the feasibility of converting the N400 billion intervention funds into grant that the banks could pay back after stabilization at terms to be negotiated and agreed to with the regulatory body.

Comrade Salako, argued conversion of the N400 billion bail out to equity  lend credence to speculations of ethnic agenda by the CBN, in the on-going sanitization process, saying “if the equity agenda sails through, nobody is sure that those willing to buy are not the same set of people who brought the banks to this sorry state through their proxies.”

The Acting President attributed the volatile banking culture which has led to various sharp practices such as corporate prostitution, money laundering and armed robberies to the highly entrenched mad rush for un-realistic deposit targets and casualisation.
According to him, a correlated twin-evil to unrealistic target drive is the labour debasing practice of out-sourcing, contract or casual staffing which make it most difficult to be able to vouch for the character and demeanor of employees in a personal service industry that should drive the economy.

He said, “we are keenly monitoring developments in the sector and are apt to again demand that employees and customers are never the cause of the current revelations, and it would be most unfair for management to turn them into victims, rather, we are veritable stakeholders who inputs are critical to finding solutions out of any crisis.  The Governor of the CBN should also remember that since public funds are being deployed to bail out these banks, the task now is to make the banks work for Nigerian people and our national economy and not just as assets to be given to another set of private investors who may commit the same infractions all over again”


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