NIGERIAN commercial banks have been asked to put all plans to lay off staff on hold until further notice by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because of the impact such redundancies will have on the economy.
Last week, Access Bank announced plans to shut 340 branches across Nigeria as a result of the economic impact the coronavirus pandemic. Herbert Wigwe, the managing director of the bank said the decision was in a move to reduce operating costs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There are now palpable fears that several other banks may follow suit as they have all felt the harsh impact of the lockdown. If this ends up becoming a trend across the sector, thousands of Nigerian workers could be made redundant, depressing the economy further and leading to dire social complications.
Sensing the need to step in, the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee met and decided to suspend the retrenchment or laying-off of any staff of banks, whether full or part-time. CBN director of corporate communications Isaac Okorafor, explained that the decision was taken to minimise and mitigate the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on families and livelihoods.
He said to give effect to any redundancies, the express approval of the CBN must be sought in the event that it became absolutely necessary to lay-off any such staff. Mr Okorafor stated that the apex bank solicited the support of all in the effort to weather through the economic challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.