By Victor Ahiuma-Young & Ifunanya Okafor
LAGOSâ€”SENIOR workers in the nationâ€™s financial institutions, yesterday faulted the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, over phased implementation of the on-going â€œSpecial Examinationâ€ of the banksâ€™ accounts which led to the sacking ofÂ five banks executives, saying that the action could make the 14 yet-to-beÂ audited banks to cover their tracks and have competitive advantages in an industry that is highly sensitive and volatile.
At a press conference,Â Â under the umbrella of the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions (ASSBIFI), the workers also warned the CBN againstÂ converting the N400 billion intervention fund to equity which could lead to the acquisition of the banks through the back doors andÂ may eventually negate the purpose of the bail-out.
Addressing Journalists, Acting President of ASSBIFI, Comrade Sunday Salako, blamed officials of CBN, especially auditors sent to audit the accounts of these banks who after spending not less than six months in the banks, gave the banks clean bills of health and called on the management of the apex bank to also audit itself.
According to him:â€œThis initiative is in tandem with ASSBIFIâ€™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.
â€œWe 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 under 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 most critical that the CBN must do a soul searching of the activities ofÂ itsÂ ownÂ houseÂ becauseÂ itÂ hasÂ conductedÂ severalÂ routineÂ andÂ 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.â€
â€œThe phased implementation of the on-going â€œSpecial Examinationâ€ of the banksâ€™ accounts which first started with eleven banks, five of which were sanctioned, leaving fourteen banks yet to be audited has the potential of giving competitive advantages in an industry that is highly sensitive and volatile.
â€œThe CBN is urged to look at the feasibility of converting the N400 billion intervention funds into a grant that the banks can pay back after stabilization at terms to be negotiated and agreed with the regulatory body (CBN).
â€œThe highly entrenched mad rush for un-reasonable deposit targets is a major contributory factor in upholding risky banking culture in the country leading to various unscrupulous practices such as corporate pimping/prostitution, money laundering and armed robbery which the CBN must also be more vociferous in combating without sentiments.
A correlated twin-evil to unrealistic target drive is the labour debasing practice of outsourcing, contract or casual staffing which makes it most difficult to be able to vouch for the character and demeanour of employees in a personal service industry that drives the Nigerian economy.â€