By Umar Audu
There is disquiet in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, over plan by the new management to fully relocate major departments from the Abuja headquarters to the former headquarters in Lagos.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that members of staff of the apex bank, especially married women are grumbling over the decision.
This newspaper gathered that the departments penciled down for relocation by the CBN governor Yemi Cardoso are: Banking Supervision, DBS; Other Financial Institutions Supervision, OFISD; Consumer Protection Department, CPD; Payment System Management Department, PSMD and; Financial Policy Regulations Department, FPRD.
It was also gathered that 1,533 staff would be affected by the massive redeployment.
A source who preferred anonymity said the policy had already forced some members of staff to consider resignation.
“The affected departments are the major departments of the CBN. They are the only departments mentioned in the BOFIA Act [Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act].
“Moving them entirely will only further strengthen Lagos and weaken Abuja. When you move all these departments to Lagos, then what is left of the headquarters? It will become almost useless.
“Women colleagues that are married can’t cope with this decision, especially those from the North,” said the source.
The source alleged that the new management under Mr Cardoso had been hostile to the staff since his assumption of office.
“Since this management assumed office, every week an average of two staff members resign because of the hostile environment they created.
“This is on record and can be verified. The HR unit maintains the records of CBN staff, from recruitment to exit.
“The entire atmosphere of the bank is that of gloom and unease, as the staff are working in a state of fear and uncertainty due to regular threats to their jobs by the new management,” the source added.
While questioning the rationale behind the decision, the source said the move raised suspicions of a plot to elevate Lagos above Abuja and downsize staff.
“When the new management assumed office, there were rumours of plans to downsize, which it dismissed.
“But with this indiscriminate transfers of both married women and people with medical needs, the suspicion of workers is that they want to downsize through the backdoor, knowing full well that a lot of these married women will rather resign than be transferred away from their families.
“And some are saying it’s a Yoruba agenda of strategically moving units of government from Abuja to Lagos because a similar incident happened in the NNPCL Retail,” the insider added.
Another source told our correspondent that some heads of department had already briefed their team members to begin preparations for transfer to Lagos, adding that some affected staff had already received their transfer letters.
The source, therefore, appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the management of the apex to rescind its decision, saying it will affect their productivity.
Although the acting director of Corporate Communications of the CBN, Hakama Sidi-Ali, could not be reached for comment at the time of filing this report, an internal memo released Friday said the massive redeployment was aimed at decongesting the headquarters.
Excerpts from the memo obtained by DAILY NIGERIAN 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.
“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:
“1. 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.
“2. Reduced Efficiency: Crowded workspaces are negatively impacting productivity and collaboration. Additionally, overstretched facilities have led to increased maintenance costs.
“3. Structural Integrity: The building’s integrity can be compromised by exceeding its designed capacity.”
The memo further said the decongestion would also improve the apex bank’s operational and workflow efficiency.
“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,” the memo added.
But an insider said the immediate-past governor, Godwin Emefiele, had made provision for the construction of an annex office and multi-level car park opposite the head office building (behind Sahad Stores) in order to decongest the head office building.