Leaders of NUBIFIE, the National Union of Banks, Insurance, and Financial Employees, have expressed their worries about what they see to be a lack of transparency in the purchase and sale of Polaris Bank and Union Bank Plc and have threatened to sue to stop the sale.
The issue of 10 percent statutory shares that should be distributed to employees in the sale of the banks, particularly Polaris Bank, which includes the shuttered Afribank held by the government, is one of the issues brought up by the leaders of NUBIFIE.
The President and General Secretary of NUBIFIE, Anthony Abakpa and Ishiyaku Sheikh, respectively, announced the communique issued by NUBIFIE after it’s National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Abuja to a cross session of Journalists weekend in Lagos. They asked “the Federal Government, the Bureau of Public Enterprise, BPE, and other government agencies that midwifed the sale of Polaris Bank, to “explain to NUBIFIE members what happened to their statutory shares We haven’t abandoned the shares, nor have we forgotten about them. It belongs to the workers, so we will ask for it. We’re going to ask the government and BPE for it. It is a legal requirement under the Privatization Act.
The NEC-in-Session evaluated the sale of the two banks, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc and Polaris Bank Limited, respectively, and noted that some important points had not been addressed, according to the communique that was read by the president of NUBIFIE among others.
The NEC-in-Session struggled to understand how a deal of this nature could be completed without the public’s knowledge or visibility after learning that over one trillion Naira in taxpayer money had been invested in Polaris Bank.
The Union is worried that such a transaction, in which N50 billion was paid up front and the remaining N25 billion was spread over 25 years, is more likely to be perceived as patronage and is unlikely to inspire public confidence, which such a bank urgently requires.
The Union is similarly concerned about how the bank’s enormous fixed assets will be managed or whether the sale of all of the bank’s movable and fixed assets earned the N50 billion that was reported in the media. If so, that would support the idea that the sale was anything but an open and transparent exchange.
The union keeps questioning whether the goal was to turn a supposedly weak bridge bank into a sort of powerful megabank. Where were the other banks with a proven, reliable history of success and institutional knowledge? Could it be that nobody wanted to buy such a large bank as Union Bank Plc?
The NEC of the Union is researching all options it has regarding the sale of the two banks, and it is prepared to defend workers’ rights regardless of their employment status as well as to challenge the entire procedure in a court of law in order to demand equity, justice, and fair play and to defend the voiceless majority.