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HERBERT WIGWE: Is it nunc dimittis?



Joseph Edgar

So, I watched the video of the high profile Chief Executive as he tried ever so passionately to justify his latest gambit. As he spoke, I saw very clearly that even he himself did not believe the words he was emitting. He spoke about laying off the ‘tea girls, security men and all the outsourced staff since we may not be needing them anymore’. This was in my books the height of insensitivity from a market leader.

The fact that I was watching the video in itself showed very clearly just how his listeners took the message. This was supposed to be a ‘town hall meeting’ which was internal but had been leaked with the video going viral and receiving the expected negative lash back in the markets.

You see this one again throws up the issues that bedevil our institutions. The issue of social capitalism as against that of crass pure market driven capitalism that is not even played according to the books. What we see here is a rent seeking, agency type relationship masking as an out right market driven system. Our so called power boys only just hold these things on behalf of landlords who pull the strings according to the dictates of their perceived shallow interest.

This particular institution just reported about N97b in PAT at their last reportage. They further declared a first quarter report of N40b and also just recently led a consortium of private sector players to donate N1b to the Covid 19 initiative.

So, you can imagine the shock of the markets when this recording was released obviously by a disgruntled and unhappy staffer who was seeing his children’s future toyed by an oligarch who seemingly was only interested in the bottom-line and his image.

Why would you declare all of these billions and literally days after be clutching on to the fragile hope that if you wiped out the bottom of the pyramid you would float? To me this calls up the integrity of the whole financial system because if a market leader like this cannot sustain itself after just a 4 week lockdown then where are all the vaunted stress tests?

My small investigations throws up probable reasons- they didn’t do this during the recent acquisition of Diamond Bank, the macro economic environment with its challenges and expected recession as predicted by the IMF and the realization that digital and online services is the way forward. The lockdown giving them a strong reason to test its viability.

Very strong reasons abi? Well this now brings to the fore the issue of social capitalism that we have all been refusing to adhere to. An institution this size, cannot be run by mere principles of Naira and rent Kobo. It must have at its core leadership expansive frontiers and nation building tendencies even as they run a business. This is lacking in many of our Institutions as we see the very quick rise of strong relationship managers who take advantages of vast rent seeking networks in perpetuating themselves in power and after reaching the peak do everything within their powers to ensure their longevity which is usually colored with some fantastic play to the gallery. A pay that would make legendry Nollywood Actors green with envy

But let’s look at the figures once again. Access Bank is said to have an N8b monthly wage bill and this move is intended to save them N2b from this wage bill. The bulk of the N2b will come from the outsourced staff who are mostly Tea Ladies, Security men and the like. How so disdainful!

The sorry state of this matter is the fact that the very bulk of this N2b does not even get to these categories of Nigerians who are effectively slaves. The funds go to shell companies who in turn send a pre-agreed percentage to the staff and the rest taken as bogus management fees. Who owns most of these firms, that is left for the NLC to do their work.

What this is in essence, is the post-merger restructuring and reordering of the bank hiding under the inclement conditions of COVID. Pure and simple. The bank has the rights to run its business any how it wants to but do not do this trying to play on the intelligence of the markets.

The timing for this gamble is just not right, does not reflect on the brand and its leadership positively and makes a mockery of its much-vaunted CSR positioning. Just may be the government should return their contribution because you cannot attempt to save lives with your right hand and take lives with your left. This should not be allowed.

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