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Anxiety as CBN Moves 1533 Personnel out of Abuja

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

There is palpable anger among staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) following the decision of management to move about 1,533 personnel from the head office in Abuja to other departments across the country, notably Lagos.

According to a circular dated January 12, 2023, from the director of the human resources department to all staff, the initiative is designed to align with building safety standards and enhance office space efficiency.

The circular reads: “This is to notify all staff members at the CBN Head Office that we have initiated a decongestion action plan designed to optimize the operational environment of the bank.

This initiative aims to ensure compliance with building safety standards and enhance the efficient utilization of our office space.

“This action is necessitated by several factors, including the need to align the bank’s structure with its functions and objectives, redistribute skills to ensure a more even geographical spread of talent and comply with building regulations, as indicated by repeated warnings from the Facility Manager, and the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Decongestion of the CBN Head Office Building.

“The action plan focuses on optimizing the utilization of other Bank’s premises. With this plan, 1,533 staff will be moved to other CBN facilities within Abuja, Lagos and understaffed branches.

“Our current occupancy level of 4,233 significantly exceeds the optimal capacity of 2,700 designed for the Head Office building. This overcrowding poses several critical challenges:

“Safety Concerns: The building’s infrastructure was designed for a specific number of occupants. Exceeding this capacity has raised safety concerns, increased health and accident risks – and hinders efficient emergency evacuation.

“Reduced Efficiency: Crowded workspaces are negatively impacting productivity and collaboration. Additionally, overstretched facilities have led to increased maintenance costs.

“Structural Integrity: The building’s integrity can be compromised by exceeding its designed capacity.

“Decongestion will also improve our operational and workflow efficiency in the following ways:

“Strategic alignment: The decision to redistribute departments and staff is rooted in a strategic approach to align the structure of the Bank with its functions and objectives. Certain departments may be better suited to operate in proximity to Financial Institutions’ head offices, which are predominantly located in Lagos. This strategic alignment ensures optimal collaboration and efficiency.

“Skill distribution: The concentration of technical skills in the Abuja Head Office has led to a shortage at the branch level. Recognizing the importance of diverse and specialized talents across all branches, the reorganization seeks to redistribute technical skills to ensure that each branch has the necessary expertise for its specific operational needs.

“Embracing geographical mobility: Given the CBN’s extensive network of branches across the nation, the reorganization also emphasizes the importance of staff rotations between branches. By experiencing new environments, stakeholders, and opportunities, staff members will broaden their perspectives, enhance their adaptability, and foster stronger collaboration across the organization.

*Process optimization: The ongoing reorganization is not a random shuffle but a targeted effort towards process optimization. By collaborating with Branch Controllers, the Management aims to tailor the placement of departments to the unique strengths and needs of each branch, thereby enhancing overall operational effectiveness.

“We understand that change can be unsettling, and we are committed to keeping you informed throughout the process and providing timely updates on the decongestion plan. Affected departments and personnel will receive individual notifications from their respective Directors.

“By implementing this plan, we will: Improve the health and safety of all staff; Enhance productivity and collaboration; Extend the lifespan of the Head Office building; Optimize our resources and reduce costs; create a more comfortable and enjoyable work environment for everyone.”

However, some staff of the CBN see the planned decongestion as “a ploy to shed weight”.

A source told the Daily Asset that some highly placed staff of the bank have either resigned or been moved to locations outside Abuja since the commencement of the exercise in Sept. 2023.

“More are already considering throwing in the towel because they cannot function well outside Abuja or Lagos,” the source added.

CBN explained that while change can be unsettling, the CBN is committed to keeping staff informed throughout the process. Individual notifications will be provided to affected departments and personnel by their respective directors.”

Already about 80 percent of the staff of the Banking Supervision Department of the CBN have been transferred to Lagos.

The official reason is that the Head Offices of the banks they’re supposed to supervise are located in Lagos. Only a skeletal number of staff of the department are left behind in Abuja.

Same happened to the Payment System Management Department (PSMD) because “the department deals mostly with entities based in Lagos. The Payment System Management Department (PSMD) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) oversees various entities involved in the payment system.As part of the decongestion exercise, the Director Medical Services Department has been moved to the FSS Department in Maitama, a development that many staff of the CBN are questioning the rationale behind.

COVER

Tinubu Charges Qatari Investors to Report Bribe Demanding Officials

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By David Torough

President Bola Tinubu yesterday in Doha, Qatar charged captains of industry in Qatar to report to him any government official who will demand a bribe or any form of inducement at any point in their business activities in Nigeria.

Speaking at the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum in Doha yesterday Tinubu told Qatari investors that Africa’s largest economy is being reformed and upgraded.

He reassured the international business community that Nigeria is ready for serious business as his administration will deal decisively with any and all entrenched interests in the country who undermine investor confidence in the Nigerian economy, pledging to remove all bottlenecks standing in the way of profitable and legitimate enterprise.

The president said, “I am here to give you the assurance that reforms are going on; forget about whatever you heard in the past. Whatever is the obstacle or problem that some of you might have experienced; it is in the past, because there is no obstacle in the future.

“Do not offer a bribe to any of our people, and if it is requested or taken from you, report to us. You will have access to me. Nigeria will no longer be defined by the past, but by what we do now and moving forward. Do not let perceptions become a hindrance to your will to invest. Nigeria is serious about revolutionizing investment promotion.

“We are removing obstacles today and we are going to continue to remove all obstacles. We have done so much within nine months. And I assure you, it is free entry and free exit. Your funds will flow smoothly into and out of our country. Bring your investments.”

Tinubu noted that the war against corruption and insecurity in Nigeria had been significantly strengthened with the appointment of the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, as National Security Adviser (NSA).

“We have a man who has won many global awards for anti-corruption as an anti-corruption czar.

“My responsibility is to tell you that Nigeria is open for business and to assure you that your investments are safe in our hands. We have men and women of great reputation here. And we believe we can forge a good committee that will advance our discussions to fruitful conclusions.

“A nation is an artificial entity unless there are good people to drive it. People build great nations and we have great people. We are ready,” the President affirmed.

Tinubu noted that Nigeria possesses vast opportunities in various fields, telling his host: “We have oil and gas; we have solid minerals. I do not see why we cannot become prolific partners in exploring iron ore, as well as steel production, and energy across the board.

“I am here to give you assurances in all spheres: tourism, hospitality, healthcare, and many other opportunities that abound around us. Do not be the investors who miss out on the golden opportunity we present,” the President added.

Welcoming the Nigerian delegation in the presence of Qatari captains of industry, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Qassim Al Abdullah Al Thani, Qatar’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, said his country looks forward to exploring opportunities in Nigeria, owing to its population demography and market, as it seeks to prioritize new investments in low carbon initiatives, mineral products, petroleum chemicals, industry, and consumables.

“We look forward to working with our Nigerian counterparts to achieve our joint objectives in these sectors,” the Minister said.

The President of the Nigeria-Qatar Business and Investment Forum were: Borno State Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum; Kaduna State Governor, Senator Uba Sani; Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; National Security Adviser (NSA), Ribadu; Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Mr. Wale Edun; Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake; Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Professor Muhammad Ali Pate; Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola; Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite; Minister of Youth, Dr Jamila Bio Ibrahim; and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Gas), Mr. Ekperipe Ekpo.

Others at the meeting were Special Adviser on Energy, Mrs. Olu Verheijen; and the President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Mr. Dele Kelvin Oye.

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COVER

Mob Beat Two Policemen to Death after Road Crash

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By Our Reporter

Two policemen on escort duty were yesterday beaten to death, two others injured following a mob action at Ikpeshi in Akoko-Edo Local Government Area of Edo State.

This happened after a Toyota Hilux vehicle belonging to the escort duty policemen in the convoy of former Edo House of Assembly member Emmanuel Agbaje hit a motorcycle, resulting in the death of the rider, a woman and her child.

Ikpeshi youths, according to sources, besieged the office of Edo State Security Vigilante Network, where the two policemen were taken, overpowered them and beat the policemen to death.

Two other policemen were rescued by the vigilante members.

The rescued police were taken hospital.

The four policemen were from Police Mobile Force (PMF) 19, Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

The chairman of Akoko-Edo local council, Tajudeen Alade who condemned the activities of Ikpeshi youths declared that the persons involved would be identified, arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.

Edo Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Chidi Nwabuzor, confirmed the incident.

He said investigation into the incident was ongoing after which the command would release more details to the public.

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NDIC Reimburses Depositors of 183 Rested Microfinance, Mortgage Banks

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has reimbursed depositors of 179 rested microfinance and four mortgage banks across the country.

The Managing Director of the corporation, Dr Bello Hassan disclosed this at the NDIC Special Day during the just-concluded 45th Kaduna International Trade Fair.

Hassan, who was represented by the NDIC’s Deputy Director of Communication, Hauwa Gambo reiterated that the corporation’s priority was the protection of depositors’ funds of licensed banks in distress.

According to Hassan, in carrying out its statutory functions, the corporation has introduced the Single Customer View framework to expedite payment to depositors of liquidated banks.

He added that the NDIC has enhanced its collaboration with the judiciary for speedy prosecution of failed insured banks which has resulted in resolving long-drawn cases of closed banks such as Fortune and Triumph Banks liquidation.

According to the NDIC boss, the efforts have significantly improved the debt recovery rate, which enabled the corporation to declare 100 per cent liquidation dividends to uninsured depositors of more than 20 deposit money banks.

He said, “Our priority at NDIC is the protection of Nigerian depositors. We are dedicated to safeguarding depositors’ funds from the adverse effects of bank failure. The corporation has introduced the Single Customer View framework to expedite payment to depositors of closed banks.

“The corporation has enhanced collaboration with the judiciary for speedy prosecution of failed insured institutions. This concerted effort has resulted in resolving long-drawn cases of closed banks such as Fortune and Triumph Banks in liquidation.

“Moreover, we have utilised alternative dispute resolution mechanisms and out-of-court settlements, revitalising our liquidation activities. These efforts have significantly improved our debt recovery rate, enabling us to declare 100 per cent liquidation dividends to uninsured depositors of more than 20 deposit money banks in liquidation.”

Hassan also said that NDIC deployed digital remote payment strategies to facilitate electronic funds transfers to verified depositors’ alternate bank accounts.

To address the apathy among depositors with small balances, he said the NDIC launched the ‘Deposit Tracer’ in partnership with mobile operators, which allows depositors to access their unpaid balances through mobile accounts.

He urged depositors of banks in liquidation to utilise the various initiatives by the corporation to claim their funds trapped in closed banks.

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