Abuja — Alleged favouritism and politicization of appointments and promotion of staff by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, are reportedly causing tension and disaffection in the nation's apex banking institution.
Vanguard reliably gathered that majority of the 1,861 senior and junior employees hired by the bank in the last three years were recruited largely through the influence of top bank officials and political actors in the administration, who see the apex bank as a goldmine reserved for their kith and kin.
Similarly, no fewer than 18 directors, assistant and deputy directors, were hired by influential and powerful persons into its executive management cadre within the period though the bank claims that there are no vacancies in the top cadre to warrant the promotion of overdue principal managers into such positions.
Several appointments made by the new management are said to be causing bad blood in the apex bank including some made at the director level of the apex bank. In one instance a director was said to have been 'smuggled' from outside by a powerful clique into the bank recently even at a time the bank claimed there was no vacancy for qualified senior bank staff to fill at the director level.
Two new salary grades
Findings revealed that over 200 Principal Managers, who graduated in various disciplines from the universities and joined the apex bank between 1983 and 2007 and were due for promotion into the Directorate Cadre of the CBN years ago, have been denied promotion on the excuse that there are no vacancies in the Directorate cadre. However, in a bid to 'accommodate' the affected staff, CBN created two new grades: Principal Manager on CBN Salary Scale of 04.1 and Deputy Manager on CBSS of 06, which are not provided for in its staff manual.
With the new measure, Senior Managers, who would have automatically been promoted to Assistant Directors, have been pegged at Principal Managers while Assistant Managers will now spend several years as Deputy Managers before becoming managers, a development seen as unduly delaying their rise in the bank.
But in a dramatic twist, the grades of no fewer than 180 new employees of the bank were recently adjusted even while they were on probation without recourse to availability of vacancies, promotion interviews or examinations, raising eyebrow in the process.
Appeal for promotion
It was based on the noticeable lopsided nature of appointments and promotions, that the affected Principal Managers wrote to the CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, on June 16, 2012, pleading with him to cause them to be promoted to their respective grades, having served the bank meritoriously without blemish for over 20 years.
In the letter entitled, "A passionate appeal for the promotion of Principal Managers into Assistant Director Grade," the aggrieved staff wrote: "Our appeal is that you passionately look into the issue of Principal Managers who graduated from 1983-1987 and worked in other notable organisations before joining the CBN.
"We have further improved our skills and acquired additional qualifications and have served the bank meritoriously without blemish for over 20 years. We are not unmindful of the budget implications of this exercise and we enjoin the management to consider and approve the supplementary promotions without accrued financial benefits to us."
CBN ignores pleas
But the CBN management is reported to have tactically ignored the plea of those not promoted to their appropriate ranks on the grounds that many of them were actually due to be flushed out to create room for new hands. A source familiar with the development said the CBN governor did not believe that appointments and promotion of staff should be based solely on years of experience and one's year of graduation from the university.
The development has, however, generated mixed feelings from those familiar with the bank's history. For instance, in a letter addressed to the CBN, a former staff of the bank who was in charge of the staff Joint Consultative Council, JCC, warned that its deviation from laid down rules and regulations in the recruitment and promotion of staff was likely to destroy the core values of the apex financial institution.
Uke Harriman, who is now a CBN pensioner, wrote the letter to Sanusi, on May 31, 2012 and asked the bank to stop introducing strange measures capable of elongating the period of promoting qualified staff so as not to kill their spirit of creativity and productivity.
Harriman warned: "The haphazard promotion or appointment of employees without regard to seniority, qualifications, experience and performance will create self-seeking employees who will struggle to compensate in time for career advancement disruption caused by appointing an officer far junior in rank, age and qualification to them.
"As this expectation is gradually being impressed on the psyche of the employees, that any officer can be promoted to boss a senior officer who has been known to be qualified, dynamic and dedicated to his duties, there will be a negative adjustment to accept the situation."
CBN committed no infraction
But CBN's Director of Corporate Communications, Ugo Okoroafor, told Vanguard in an interview that the bank had not committed any infraction in its appointments and promotions, as it has always followed due process in such matters. Okoroafor, who defended the appointment of persons from outside into the bank over the years, said the apex bank was not bound by any known law to use only existing staff in its operations.
The bank's spokesman also dismissed as untenable allegations levelled against the bank's appointments at the director level saying that appointments made were based on the outstanding performance of those engaged in thier previous engagements.
Okoroafor pointed out that the bank had no option than to create the two special grades to accommodate the Principal Managers and Assistant Managers in the absence of available vacancies to place them.
He said: "There is no law in Nigeria saying that only staff who have spent eternity in a workplace should become the heads of such places. The CBN is empowered to recruit qualified Nigerian experts to meet its core mandate of rendering quality banking services to the nation," Okoroafor said.