By Victor Ahiuma-Young

National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions’ Employees, NUBIFIE, weekend rejected last Thursday’s announced sale of Polarise Bank Nigeria limited without involvement of stakeholders, including organized labour.

NUBIFIE said it was worried that a bank that the government spent over a trillion naira to recapitalize could be sold for N50 billion secretly, saying “an emergency National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the union would be convened within the next 48 hours to deliberate on this specific issue and the decision on the next line of action would definitely be taken.

“In a statement by its General Secretary, Sheikh Mohammed, NUBIFIE said:  “As a union, we recognize that a bridge bank cannot continue to be held in trust perpetually and it is within the right of the relevant authorities to take necessary measures to get suitable investor(s) among those who have indicated genuine interest in acquiring it.

“The union has been inundated with various shades of complaints from stakeholders on the integrity of the process leading to the sale/acquisition of Polaris Bank Nigeria Limited, and the public are expecting answers from us, as a union whose primary duty is safeguarding and defending the interests of the workers and the regular, ordinary day-to- day depositors.

“It is already public knowledge that the government, through its regulatory institutions, has sunk (or invested?) over a trillion naira of public funds on Polaris Bank in its turnaround efforts, and given the huge amount of public funds involved, the process of the transactions must not only be seen to be transparent and open but, the public has the right to know details of such transactions.

“Any claims of adherence to due process, which excludes workers and their representative, as well as the general public, fades away in the face of reason and cannot be seen to be transparent.

”The union and its members are concerned over the shrouding of entire transactions in secrecy, hiding under the guise of complying with Section 34(5) of the AMCON Act. This is a sure recipe for disaster and would ultimately be a cross on ordinary depositors and the neck of workers.“

“Casting the process of sale/acquisition of Polaris Bank in secrecy created credibility challenge, limiting fair competition, and made much worse by the fact that appropriate agency (AMCON), established to carry out the transactions, allegedly was a mere rubber stamp in the entire process.““As a union, we insist on the right thing to be done, even as we are prepared to defend the rights of our members in any eventuality arising therefrom. Whoever comes on board at Polaris Bank must be prepared to treat existing staff with utmost care and guarantee of their job security and continuity which is the only sure way of ensuring industrial peace and harmony across the entire bank and its operations.““It was a matter of regret that workers who are critical factors and stakeholders were not informed either directly or through their union representatives about the sale of the bank in which most have served and still serving the bank for most of their prime years but unfortunately, are not recognized as important enough to be informed about the sale of their workplace.““This development as it is in its currency now, would be made part of the agenda for discussion at the forthcoming National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of our great union, coming up soon.““This would enable the NEC-in-Session deliberate extensively, with a view to adopting an appropriate response to the ongoing situation of opaque transactions at Polaris Bank Nigeria limited.““In the meantime, an emergency National Executive Council, NEC, meeting would be convened within the next 48 hours to deliberate on this specific issue and the decision on the next line of action would definitely be taken.““It is important that the general public should know the that Union was unaware of the sale of Polaris Bank until we read it in the media and up to this press release, the Union has not been contacted or communicated to, on the latest development relating to the opaque transactions.”


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