Funds transfer between bank customers, in some cases now take an upward of two weeks to either drop in the receiver’s account or reversed to the sender.
Besides this obvious development, information is rife that most of the banks are working round the clock to manage internal tech problems that have suddenly hit them due to mass resignation of tech experts, who are travelling out of the country for greener pastures.
Besides the current wave of managing the crisis, the fear of succession has also gripped some of the establishments as the old hands are likely to end up not having anyone to take over from them. Fears that the quality of service provided by the banks in the country might even worsen in the coming months are growing.
Indeed, industry sources believe that banks are set to be hit by a great wave of resignations in September as a lot of their employees are booked to obtain their visas by the end of this month. At the post-Bankers’ Committee meeting press briefing held in April, the Chief Executive Officer of Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman, told reporters that the industry had been hit by an exodus of tech talents.
“So many of our very experienced talents, especially in the area of software engineering, are either leaving the industry or leaving the country,” a development he referred to as a “great resignation,” he said.
Suleiman stated that the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), the umbrella professional body for lenders in the country, would “drive the process of training more skills in the area where we see deficits,” adding that the bank CEOs at the meeting discussed plans to fund training for new tech-focused staffers to replace those who have left.
There have been reports on social media in recent times that Nigerian banks are facing frequent system breakdown and other IT related challenges as most of their tech engineers have resigned to join digital firms in the country’s booming fintech sector, especially the global conglomerate, Amazon, which began operations in Nigeria’s e-commerce space a few months ago.
It was however gathered that it was not only tech focused staff of the banks who are quitting in order to take up juicy appointments both within and outside the country.
An Assistant Head of Operations at the branch of a Tier 1 bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told New Telegraph’s correspondent that he recently obtained his visa to pursue a Masters Degree programme in the United Kingdom and would be leaving the country with his family next month.
According to him, he decided to apply for the visa, following encouragement from several former colleagues who resigned in the last few months and have secured jobs or admissions for post graduate programmes either in Europe or Canada.
The bank official said: “Despite the fact that the tough economy in Nigeria has been leading many bank staff in the last seven years to resign to seek better opportunities outside the country, I was not too keen on making that move.
“However, as economic conditions and insecurity have worsened since early this year, my wife and I decided that I should try my luck and apply for a UK visa. I was pleasantly surprised to be informed that my application was successful,” he said.
He disclosed that his immediate superior, the Head of Operations at the branch, had also obtained a UK visa and would be submitting his resignation letter in the coming days.
“The situation (wave of resignations in the industry) is really very serious and I’m wondering how banks are going to cope in terms of service delivery, if it continues. I can tell you that out of every 10 bank employees that you speak with today, at least four will tell you that they are making serious plans to “japa” (local parlance for leaving the country for greener pastures abroad).
“A lot of my colleagues are already complaining of being overworked because staff who resigned months ago are yet to be replaced,” he said.
Downturn in economy Another middle level bank staff at a Tier I bank branch in Lagos, who echoed similar views, predicted that the wave of resignations would increase in the coming months as economic conditions and governance issues in the country continue to deteriorate ahead of the general election next year.
“A lot of people are trying to ‘japa’ due to the situation in the country. The naira is heading towards N1, 000 per dollar; the prices of goods and services (inflation) are accelerating at an alarming rate; students of government-owned higher institutions have been at home for over six months now because of the strike embarked upon by their teachers and the rising wave of killings and kidnapping cases across the nation, are making many people to believe that with the election next year drawing near, governance will completely collapse. Thus, the only option left for any serious person is to travel abroad.”
The bank official revealed that in a bid to tackle the crisis, the financial institution she works for had reduced the minimum academic qualification required for people applying for permanent staff positions to Second Class Lower (2/2) University Degree from Second Class Upper (2/1).
She, however, said that the lowering of the academic qualification did not appear to be stemming the wave of resignations as many of the young permanent staff employed by the bank in recent times has quit after only two years to accept better offers outside the industry.
“Most of the young people that are even lucky to be employed as permanent staff by banks are not even interested in spending more than three or four years in the industry. After about two years, you will hear that they have either migrated to Canada or are doing remote work,” she said.
The bank official debunked the view that increasing automation would mitigate the impact of the resignations on the quality of service provided by the banks. She argued that while most bank operations are automated, there are still services that require the human element, pointing out that a lot of bank customers in the country prefer to visit bank branches to resolve issues that could have been addressed from the comfort of their homes.
Commenting on the wave of resignations and its likely impact on the industry, the President of the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria (BCAN), Dr Uju Ogubunka, told New Telegraph that “the impact is already being felt. Many experienced and skilled bankers are already resigning for greener pastures abroad. It is a reality.”
According to him, the resignations will adversely impact the industry as “service quality will go down and people will complain and all that.”
Ogubunka, who noted that the wave of resignations was not peculiar to the banking industry, said that he knew a lot of people in other sectors of the economy who are also planning to quit their jobs to look for better employment offers outside the country. He attributed the development to the tough economy, pointing out that it was in the nature of human beings to emigrate in search of a better life.
“That is why we are asking that it is very important that all the focus should be on improving the Nigerian economy,” he stated.
On his part, the CEO of BIC Consulting Services, Dr Boniface Chizea, said that he could not predict to what level the great resignation will get to before it would start to impact the banks negatively. He noted that while automation is helping the banks to cope with the resignation of key staff, the industry would be concerned if the number of exiting staff continues to head north.
Chizea said: “There are countries out there, like Canada, that have labour shortage. So, people will want to move to such places to search for work. That is why we must tackle our economic problems.
What is causing the high inflation; the depreciation of the naira?” Blessing in disguise Last week, in his address at the pre-media briefing for the CIBN’s 15th Annual Banking and Finance Conference (ABFC), scheduled for September 13 – 14, Suleiman, who is the Chairman of the Consultative Committee of the conference, announced that an ongoing research finding on, “Analysis of Human Capital Attrition in a Global Context: A Case Study of the Financial Services Industry,” would be shared for information of stakeholders and value addition to the 15th ABFC.
Responding to a question on what measures the banking industry is taking to address the great resignation, he said: “With reference to the Chinese word for crisis, which also means opportunity, our attitude is that Nigeria is not lacking in healthy, young people, who are willing and are able to work. Therefore, if we see ourselves losing talent, the best response is to actually focus on converting those young people as replacement for those who are leaving.”
He further disclosed that “the industry, as a collective, is putting together a plan that will enable us support individuals who are looking to acquire skills in the area of technology and all other fields where we have skills shortage. The thinking is that actually, we can turn the crisis into an opportunity.” (New Telegraph)
Concrete Roads: Cement price to hit N9,000, manufacturers warn
The Cement Producers Association of Nigeria has warned that the ongoing plan of the federal government to introduce concrete roads will raise the price of cement to N9, 000 per bag from the current price of N5, 000.
It also called on the current administration to permanently address the perennial cement price hike problem by facilitating larger participation in the cement industry, noting that Nigerians have no business buying cement for more than N5, 600 per bag.
The association, in a statement jointly signed by the National Chairman, Prince David Iweta and National Secretary Chief Reagan Ufomba, on Sunday, commended the works Minister’s position on cement-made roads but warned of dire consequences, if the supply end is not addressed properly.
As a solution, the cement producers urged the government to lay more emphasis on road design that allows both cement technology and asphalt pavement to run concurrently and provide ample time for a smooth transition that allows contractors to invest in commensurate and requisite equipment and retooling.
The statement read, “Our findings from various parts of the country show that cement sells for as high as N6000 per bag in the rainy season. Our prediction is that it will sell for over N9,000 per bag in the dry season, especially with the pronouncement of the Honourable Minister of Works on cement technology and the marching order on housing by Mr President if the government does not take proactive steps.
“While we commend the Honourable Minister’s position on cement-made roads, we warn of the dire consequences if the supply end is not properly addressed. In fact, it would amount to dereliction of duty not to intervene. And the time is now. To do otherwise is to continue in a worsening pipe dream that prices would suddenly drop on this essential input that will continue to drain the purse of Nigerians, render them homeless, encourage chaos between demand and supply, and worsen the infrastructure deficit it sets out to cure, and lead to an unprecedented price hike.
“We also call on the Honourable Minister of Works to lay more emphasis on the design criteria of roads that allow both cement technology and Asphalt pavement to run concurrently, in turn, will provide ample time for a smooth transition that allows contractors to invest in commensurate and requisite equipment and retooling. We must also as a nation regulate static and dynamic load traffic by introducing weighbridges at access points on our highways. Working in sync with contractors, and allied Ministries of Trade and Investment, Transport, Environment and Finance on realistic policy on cement is most desirable at this critical time.”
The association further requested the government to conclude the backward integration policy of the late Yar’adua administration that was already bringing availability and affordability of cement in the country.
It added, “There has been so much comment on cement and cement pricing of late. What our nation needs is cement that is available and affordable. And this cannot be achieved by mere wishes, faulty policies and programmes, without breaking the chain of monopoly and favouritisms. Nigerians are tired of waiting for a downturn in the price of cement and for decent and affordable housing.
“We call on the Tinubu government to permanently solve this perennial cement price hike problem by expanding participation in the sector with companies who have verifiable evidence of local investment, including greenfield licenses and quarrying. As a matter of fact, we call on the government to more specifically conclude the backward integration policy of the late Yar’adua administration which was already bearing availability and affordability fruits.
“As patriots, it is our view that the government reintroduces backward integration policy and the conclusion of old ones. Consequently, the government cannot be seen to approbate and reprobate by deregulating issues of petroleum products and foreign exchange on one hand and regulating on pricing of cement, essential goods and services on another. There is a need for policy harmonisation and convergence between fiscal and monetary policies.
“Finally, we call on the government to urgently intervene in the foreign exchange market, intervene in restructuring bad loans of manufacturers, and review palliative modules. The cry for elusive FDI will be drastically reduced if all manufacturing concerns are revived. The government must be decisive in the kind of economic policies it intends to foist on the people,” the statement concluded.
Fake News: Dangote Group denies Cement price slash
Dangote Group has described as fake the reports circulating online that it would reduce the price of cement per 50 kilogramme from N5,500 to N2,700.
Anthony Chiejine, Spokesperson for Dangote Group described the claim as fake news on Monday.
His reaction comes amid speculation that the Dangote group crashed the cement price by 50 per cent with effect from October 1st, 2023.
Earlier, Bahir Ahmad, media aide to former president Muhammadu Buhari, had commented that the report was fake.
Ahmad made this known through his official X handle on Sunday.
“The Dangote Group has denied the trending reports that it has reduced the price of cement from N5,500 to N2,700 effective October 1st”, he wrote.
The price of a 50kg bag of cement is sold between N4,600 to N6,000 in Lagos, Ogun, Ondo and Abuja.
However, barely two weeks ago, BUA Cement had hinted at plans to reduce the price of a 50kg bag of cement to between N3,000 and N3,500.
BUA chairman, Abdul Samad Rabiu disclosed this after meeting with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Naira crashes to all-time low at exchange market
The exchange rate between the naira and the dollar plunged to a record low N983/$1 at the black market based on quotes received by Nairametrics on Wednesday as currency traders said there no dollar to sell
This represents a 2.93% drop when compared with the N955/$1 that it traded the previous day as the foreign exchange crisis in the country continues unabated.
This also shows a substantial depreciation from the N950/$1 that it traded last week as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) appears to be still struggling to stabilize the foreign exchange market despite its various policy pronouncements.
Recall that in mid-August, the dollar was quoted as low as N955/$1, stoking fears among investors that the exchange rate might plummet to N1000/$1.
This, however, appreciated at some point to N840/$1 after the apex bank warned speculators about potential major losses due to the policies it hopes to introduce.
In related news, trading on the official I&E window on September 20 witnessed the exchange rate between the naira and the dollar settling at N776.60/$1, a drop from N773.98/$1 the previous day.
The intra-day high soared to N799.9/$1, whereas the intra-day low dipped to N720/$1.
Data from FMDQ Securities Exchange, a platform that oversees official FX trading in Nigeria, shows that a total of $71.01 million was traded at the I & E window, Nigeria’s official trading window.
2023 Currency tracking platform AbokiFX also captured the exchange rate trades at N980/$1 on Wednesday. We are out of business
A top official of the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) who did not want to be mentioned said that the forex market is currently in disarray as most of the licensed operators do not have dollars to sell and as such out of business.
He said, ‘’The market has scattered, the rate is N983/$1.
Most of the licensed bureau de change operators do not even have dollars to sell, we are out of business.
“I think the liquidity is in the so-called parallel market. Its all about scarcity and when there is scarcity, it gives rise to parallel or black market.’’
He said that if there is dollar available to sell or buy, he might not even do the transaction because he does not know what to do, adding that he is confused as a licensed bureau de change operator.
Going further, he said, ‘’You see this market operates on different level, we have started seeing Binance, we are now seeing Dubai rate, we are now seeing local parallel market rate, so it depends on the level you are.’’
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