Another trouble looms for Polaris Bank Limited as staff threaten to cripple operations nationwide over unpaid salaries.
BrandSpur Nigeria recalls that ahead of Nigeria’s anticipated political transition, with president-elect Bola Tinubu’s inauguration scheduled for May 29, speculation is mounting over the fate of Polaris Bank as the incoming helmsman, is said to be gearing up to reverse its controversial sale.
Over 100 Polaris Bank Staff Lament Unpaid Salaries
In October 2022, the CBN sold the bank for a paltry N40 billion under controversial circumstances, after sinking over N1.2 trillion into it. Predictably, it triggered a wave of allegations: lawmakers, trade unions, and other opponents of the deal all cried foul.
The apex bank, it was gathered, sold the bank to Strategic Capital Investment Limited (SCIL), said to be promoted by Auwal Lawan Abdullahi, a son-in-law of Ibrahim Babangida who holds the Sarkin Sudan Gombe traditional title from the north-eastern state, despite his limited credentials in banking and finance.
The sale meant that Nigerian taxpayers lost around 97 per cent of state investment in Polaris. As of December 2020, AMCON investment in the bank stood at N848 billion, per company filings, with insiders saying an additional N350 billion was poured in between January 2021 and July 2022.
As the crisis continues to bedevil the bank, some customers of the bank especially small and medium enterprises are reportedly taking their money out to safer banks over fear of imminent distress.
According to The Witness, lately, Polaris Bank lost some customers (depositors) who are edgy about their deposits and have lost trust in the bank because of huge job losses and unethical industrial practices currently going on in the bank.
Polaris Bank Staff Threathen To Embark On Nationwide Strike
Investigations revealed that for the second month, over 100 branch managers of the bank are placed on suspension without pay for having non-performing loan ratio above 5%.
However, it was gathered that these loans were duly approved and interests earned by the bank. Some of the managers told our correspondent that they did not book most of the loans but the loans were referred and booked by other senior staff who are walking about freely.
According to Labour laws, suspension of a worker without pay should not exceed two weeks but the bank initially issued letters of suspension for 30 days. After the expiration, the suspension without pay continued for another two months without further advise to the staff.
Some of the staff who spoke to our correspondent said the management of the bank insisted that staff “on suspension must come to work daily and are drilled for a performance review on a daily basis with the managing director presiding over the weekly meetings which last late into the nights.”
Industry watchers however revealed that the move by the management of the bank showed that all is not well within the system and the managers may have been victims of scapegoats due to imminent distress in the system.
Some aggrieved staff of Polaris Bank have sued the bank before the National Industrial Court in Lagos and Abuja. Some of the aggrieved staff have also declared a mass protest against the bank on Tuesday next week. Because of the obvious signs of distress in the bank, a number of individuals and SMEs have closed their accounts with the bank and moved their deposits to safer banks.
Some of the aggrieved staff have also threatened to cripple the bank’s activities nationwide from next week.