NUBIFIE Kicks Against Sale Of Polaris Bank
ABUJA – Workers in the banking sectors yesterday vowed to challenge sale of Polaris Bank by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), saying that the sale remained shrouded in secrecy.
The workers under the umbrella of the National Union of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions (NUBIFIE) said the sale was done without the knowledge of the workers’ union and the ordinary day-to-day depositors of the bank, who are key stakeholders of the bank.
The General Secretary of NUBIFIE, Sheikh Ishiyaku Muhammed, said the union was calling for an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) meeting within the next 48 hours to deliberate on this specific issue and the decision on the next line of action that would be taken.
He lamented that the union only had knowledge of the transaction through the media. “It important that the general public should know the union is 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,” he said.
He noted that the union recognized the fact that a bridge bank cannot continue to be held in trust perpetually and it is within the right of the relevant authority to take necessary measures to get suitable investor(s) among those who have indicated a genuine interest in acquiring 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.”
He opined that 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.
According to Muhammed, the concerns of the union and its members was shrouding the entire transactions in secrecy, hiding under the guise of complying with Section 34(5) of the AMCON Act, which he said is likely to be a sure recipe for disaster and would ultimately be a cross on ordinary depositors and the neck of workers.
He stated that 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.
He said, “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 onboard 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.”
The General Secretary maintained that this development as it is in its currency now, would be made part of the agenda for discussion at the union’s forthcoming National Executive Council (NEC), which would enable the union’s NEC-in-Session deliberate extensively with view of adopting an appropriate response to the ongoing situation of opaque transactions at Polaris Bank Nigeria limited.
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