Nigerian commercial banks, it was learnt, can no longer afford to keep their staff, as ministries and agencies of government have commenced withdrawal of their deposits in commercial banks, in compliance with federal government directive.
A source who is a top management staff of one of the first generation banks told leadership Weekend on condition of anonymity that only two days ago, his bank laid off one thousand staff nationwide adding that the mostly affected in the downsizing exercise are desk officers.
The source told our correspondent that, closure of government accounts with commercial banks has left the banks with no other option than to reduce its work force.
It would be recalled that the banking sector is the highest employer of Labour in Nigeria.
The source expressed concerns, that TSA policy, although designed to ensure accountability and transparency, it is equally going to ground a lot of the commercial banks.
He said, “As I speak with you now, about one thousand of our staff are already on their way out, because we can no longer accommodate them, but what we have done is to lay off more of the desk officers”.
Asked why the attention is on desk officers, the source said, “If you lay off those who go out to look for deposits you will worsen the situation, so we have to look at the survival of the bank first, the consequence of allowing desk officers to stay and sacking those who bring deposits will be higher, so we took the safer option of letting desk officers go”.
“The truth of the matter is that some of these deposits, especially fixed deposits help the banks a lot, now, there is directive that government funds be withdrawn, on one hand it will ensure accountability, but on the other hand the banks will also have to reduce their staff strength or be ready to recapitalise.
Another source told our correspondent that about 1,500 staff of a new generation bank were also laid off yesterday for the same reasons.
The source stated further that most of the staff laid off were those on temporary appointments. He said, “The problem is that, if you lay off permanent staff at once, you also have to pay them all their entitlements otherwise they will take you to court. Yes, majority of the people we truly do not need are unfortunately the permanent staff, but because of the confusion and litigation that will follow, we decided to relief those with temporary appointments. It is a painful decision, but we have to do it in other to save the banks.
“We have prepared their disengagement letters and most of them will be communicated next week. I tell you, not only here, all the banks will follow this line. That is the situation”.
Confirming the sack, a staff of one of the highly rated new generation banks with branches in each state capital and reputable for excellent services, who simply gave his name as Chukwuma said, “I got my letter of disengagement on Thursday, I was devastated, but at the same time I knew it will get to this point, because most of the commercial banks in Nigeria have very fat accounts of government agencies and ministries that runs into billions of Naira.
“Some of these funds are not withdrawn for six months or even more and banks trade with them and make profits. So once you shut that angle of business certainly the banks will bleed, so if, other people did not expect sacks, then they must be day dreaming”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had directed that every ministry or agency of government maintains Treasury Single Account for the purpose of transparency and accountability.
States like Kaduna have already started reaping the benefits of the TSA, as state’s funds stashed in different commercial banks have being recovered.