*We are neither closing branches nor sacking staff – Access bank
Lagos — The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has halted the sacking of staff in the banking industry as there are insinuations from different quarters over the fate of staff in the sector.
In a statement, the CBN Director in charge of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okoroafor said a special meeting of the Bankers’ Committee was convened on May 2, 2020, to further review the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian banking industry and they particularly deliberated on the issue of the operating costs of banks in view of the disruptions emanating from the global economic difficulties.
Okoroafor stated that the committee agreed that, in order to help minimize and mitigate the negative impact of the COVID19 pandemic on families and livelihoods, no bank in the country will retrench or lay-off any staff of any cadre.
‘’The express approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria shall be required in the event that it becomes absolutely necessary to lay-off any staff and we thereby solicit the support of all in our collective effort to weather through the economic challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic’’ he averred.
This move was coming by the apex bank in the height of Bloomberg report on Thursday, April 30, 2020 that anonymous sources briefed during a conference call said, salary slash will commence in April.
The report was published hours before a video of the conference call was leaked on social media showing the Access Bank CEO, Herbert Wigwe, talking about layoffs and pay cuts.
Wigwe lamented the disruption caused by the highly infectious coronavirus, and said the bank will not need as many workers as it currently has on its payroll, which invariably calls for trimming to balance the books.
Access bank has come out to deny the report circulating in the media that the bank is closing over 300 of its branches in Nigeria and downsizing its workforce by 75%.
The bank emphasized that the closure of a bank is an action that requires the approval of the CBN and that they have not applied nor obtained the approval of the apex bank for the closure of any of its branches as widely speculated.
They said, the threat of COVID-19 is still out there and whilst they will do all that is required to ensure the safety of all their branches inline with the protocol advised by the health authorities and also urged their customers to leverage on the digital channels for their transactions.
“We have commenced engagement with various stakeholders with a view to ensuring that they provide the relevant services and optimum manpower supply as my be required by the bank on an ongoing basis,” they said.