The Bankers’ Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday said the mass sacking in banks would be reduced in the shortest time possible.
The committee, at the end of its 327th meeting held at the headquarters of the CBN in Abuja, noted that while it was working on how to reduce the level of job losses in the sector, there would always be reasons why people would have to be sacked from their workplaces.
It explained that while the decision to sack bank workers had elicited a lot of sentiments from both the public and private sectors of the economy, the banks understood the implications of having to relieve workers of their jobs in view of the current economic situation in the country.
Addressing journalists shortly after the meeting, the Managing Director, Standard Chartered Bank, Mrs. Bola Adesola, said the mass sacking in the sector was discussed at the meeting and that the banks, going forward, would minimise the issue of job losses.
Other members of the committee present at the media briefing were the Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins; Group Managing Director, United Bank for Africa Plc, Mr. Phillips Oduoza; and Managing Director, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, Mr. Emeka Emuwa.
A total of about 1,400 workers have been sacked between last week Wednesday and now by Deposit Money Banks in what analysts described as a response to the current economic situation in the country, which has affected the banks’ profitability.
ABB had last week reported that Ecobank Nigeria sacked 1,040 of its employees, while Diamond Bank Plc and Skye Bank also retrenched 200 and 175 members of their workforce.
In the same vein, FBN Holdings, the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, recently said it would prune the number of its employees by 1,000.
Following the gale of job losses, the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, had on Friday directed the banks to stop the retrenchment exercise.
The minister further directed that all the retrenchments done in the past four months should be put on hold pending the outcome of a proposed stakeholders’ summit for employers and employees of the banking, insurance and financial institutions scheduled for the first week of July.
But responding to a question on what the banking sector was doing to address the issue in view of the threat by the Federal Government to withdraw the licences of errant banks, Adesola said that mass sacking of workers was not limited to the banking sector.
She said in the past, there had been mass sacking in the banking sector before the CBN governor prevailed on the banks to minimise job losses.
She added that while the banks understood the economic situation in the country, there would always be reasons for workers to be relieved of their jobs.
Adesola said, “On the recent news item on retrenchment, that we also discussed; we touched on it and obviously banks understand the implications of people not being in employment. We know what the situation is like in the country.
“And so we are looking at ways of ensuring that we minimise many exit from our institutions. There will always be exit as you know because there is fraud and so on and so forth. People will exit institutions and as a matter of fact, it is something we discussed in the past where the governor prevailed on the banks to minimise any exit from the institutions.
She added, “So, we’ve noted the market sentiments and I’m sure that going forward, it will be different.
“As I said, we must recognise also that there will be reasons why people will leave and it is not only in the banking sector – telecoms and so on have had this kind of situation as well before – but it is something that we will manage.”
Other issues discussed at the meeting are the framework for the new flexible foreign exchange management policy, the progress so far made on the financial inclusion and financial literacy strategy, and the framework for the collateral registry, among others.
Speaking on the financial inclusion strategy, Martins said the percentage of Nigerians that were financially included in the financial sector had risen to 60.5.
Oduoza, while speaking on the delay in releasing the framework for the new flexible foreign exchange policy, said more inputs were still being received from stakeholders by the CBN.
He said as a result of the huge challenge, which the country had experienced in the past in the management of foreign exchange, there was a need for the CBN to consult widely in order to come up with a robust foreign exchange management framework.
The UBA boss warned those involved in currency speculation to desist from the practice, adding that once the guidelines were released, currency speculators would regret their actions.
Oduoza stated, “We also discussed the framework for flexible exchange rate. As you know, the central bank has been working on this for some time. A lot of input has been received. As you know, some other jurisdictions have also implemented the flexible exchange rate model and some of them have done very well and the others are still fine-tuning what they have done.
“In the case of Nigeria, we want to make sure that we come up with a model that is very robust and very comprehensive that will be able to address the major exchange rate issues that we are dealing with.
“To this extent, we have got a lot of inputs from various stakeholders and these inputs are being distilled with a view to getting a robust flexible exchange rate model. I believe that in a very short while, the exchange rate will be readied. And once this happens, it is going to be made public, and we will adopt it and start working with it immediately.”