Workers in the banking industry yesterday pledged to contest the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) and Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria’s (AMCON) sale of Polaris Bank, claiming that the transaction was still cloaked in secrecy.
The sale, according to the employees covered by the National Union of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Institutions (NUBIFIE), took place without informing either the workers’ union or the bank’s regular, everyday depositors, who are important stakeholders.
Sheikh Ishiyaku Muhammed, the general secretary of NUBIFIE, announced that the union was requesting an urgent National Executive Council (NEC) meeting within the next 48 hours to discuss this particular matter and determine the appropriate course of action.
He bemoaned the fact that the union had just heard about the deal through the media. The sale of Polaris Bank was not made known to the union until it was reported in the media, and up until the publication of this news release, the union had not been contacted or informed of the most recent development about the opaque transactions, he stated.
He pointed out that the union acknowledged that a bridge bank could not be held in trust indefinitely and that the appropriate government had the right to take the required steps to find acceptable investors among those who had expressed an interest in buying it.
He however said: “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 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 adhering to due process that exclude employees, their representatives, and the broader public, in his opinion, vanish in the face of logic and cannot be considered as transparent.
Muhammed claimed that the union and its members were worried about the secrecy surrounding all of the transactions while hiding behind Section 34(5) of the AMCON Act. He claimed that this would ultimately put a cross on the backs of regular depositors and workers.
He claimed that making the sale/acquisition of Polaris Bank secret created credibility issues, limited fair competition, and was made even worse by the claim that the appropriate agency (AMCON) established to carry out the transactions was merely acting as a rubber stamp throughout the entire process.