From Martins Oloja, and Marcel Mbamalu:
IT was a mixed grill of panic and excitement in the public finance sector during the week, as hints that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) may have resolved to effect implementation of 2006 Bankers Committee Code of Conduct filtered in.
The Corporate Governance policy document, when fully enforced, could send most of the best hands in the executive management cadre of the nation’s banking industry packing.
Sources at the Central Bank, the Finance Ministry and the Presidency told The Guardian that another human resource management trouble could have been stirred by the decision of Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) to implement the Code of Conduct. The bank had, in a bid to enhance its corporate governance profile, begun to implement the Code of Conduct, which had remained comatose for nearly four years.
It was also learnt that GTB’s compliance, which was officially communicated to the apex bank, would affect most of its executive management officers and non-executive directors, including the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Olutayo Aderinokun.
The 2006 Code of Conduct, a major corporate governance document, was designed by the Bankers Committee under the supervision of the Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo-led CBN and signed by all the managing directors of the consolidated banks.
It stipulates that banks should have succession plans for chief executive officers, and non-executive directors. It also provides that non-executive directors are not expected to spend more than 12 years (or three terms of four years each).
The CBN recently issued a directive to banks, which chief executives have served for 10 years and above to leave office by August this year, an order that had elicited criticism from various quarters.
Meanwhile, apprehension has gripped the operators in the Nigerian stock market as they await the release of 2009 financial reports of banks. It was gathered, at the weekend that, three months after the end of the 2009 financial year, more than 50 per cent of the banks are yet to submit their financial statements to the apex bank for approval and subsequent publication.
Industry sources said the banks are not in a hurry to release the results in the public domain due to perceived losses recorded in the 2009 financial year. It would be recalled that the apex bank’s new policy on disclosure had forced banks to make provisions for margin and energy sector loans. Most of the banks had argued that the loans were not bad as they could be recovered when the stock market rebounds.
Head of Corporate Affairs of the CBN, Mohammed Abdullahi, yesterdy said only a few of the banks had submitted their reports for approval out of which a few had been approved by the CBN.
Besides, the Code also provides that banks must change auditors after a maximum of 10 years.
This development has already been communicated to the Bankers Committee at its 298th meeting held early in this month.
The CBN was said to have read out a letter reportedly written to it by the GTB management announcing its compliance with the Code of Conduct that would affect even its managing director, Aderinokun, Chairman, Owelle Gilbert Chikelu, and non-Executive Director, Mr. Victor Osibodu.
The announcement at the Bankers’ Committee meeting has, therefore, triggered off a chain of events that could lead to the exit of a large pool of experienced bank managers from almost all the major banks.
According to industry experts, the implications of the new deal – diminished in the media by the current cabinet reconstitution politics – four top directors in First Bank, including the Chairman, Oba Otudeko, will be affected.
” The result is that, by December, the Chairman of First Bank, London, Rasheed, may be the only face who can be chairman in First Bank,” hinted an insider last night.
The Guardian also gathered that the Finance Ministry officials, as well as the CBN executive management are excited with the development, as “the reform that may soon sweep away so many Lagos-based bankers, has come from inside the bank.”
A source at the apex bank said ” the affected bank managers and directors are not being chased away from the industry as they could go to other banks if they so wish.
“But the important thing to us is that if the CBN Governor had been the whistle blower, this time, there would have been another uproar that he has come again with his ethnic agenda and politics,” said the source.
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