Access Bank, Nigeria’s biggest bank by assets, has come under fire from Nigerians after it revealed plans to dismiss 75 per cent of its workforce due to the economic disruption caused by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Herbert Wigwe, Chief Executive Officer of Access Bank, had communicated the financial lender’s plans in a video conference call with staff, which was leaked out.
In the now-viral two-minute video, Wigwe said the bank will no longer require all its security personnel, office assistants and tellers – which he said constitutes 75 per cent of staff – to resume operations when the lockdown is lifted on Monday as the institution may still not be able to operate at full capacity due to the crisis.
He also stated that the bank will need to cut down its professional cost in order to sustain its operations and remain in business.
The CEO indicated that he will take the biggest pay-cut, as much as 40 per cent, and urged other employees to be prepared to get a slash in their salaries.
Wigwe insisted that although the decisions are difficult, they are to be taken for good of the institution.
He maintained that Access Bank must remain standing even if other financial lenders go down as a result of the pandemic.
Access Bank MD. smh. pic.twitter.com/xsBjGRDDPm
— Poju (@pojugreat) April 30, 2020
However, Wigwe and the bank got a lot of backlash from Nigerians, particularly from social media, over the planned decision.
Many social media users questioned the banks N1 billion donation to the private sector coalition against COVID-19, noting that such fund could have been used to cater to the salaries of staff for such period.
Some others, however, said the planned decision is purely a business decision and that the COVID-19 donation will not, in any way, affect the bank.
Access Bank, which acquired rival Diamond Bank Plc last year, had 6,898 permanent staff at the end of 2019, according to a presentation on its website.
The acquisition partly contributed to a 31 per cent increase in operating expenses, according to Bloomberg.
See reaction from Nigerians on social media to the planned decision by Access Bank:
Last month, @accessbank_help gave FG N1 billion, money that 95% will be looted.
This month, same bank cut salaries of employees.
— Adetutu Balogun, MBA (@Tutsy22) April 30, 2020
Dear Federal govt.
On behalf of Access Bank staff, kindly refund the 1billion naira donation they made to you.
It was a donation under duress as the staff are either going to loose their jobs or take a pay cut.
God bless you pic.twitter.com/3llfHC5XsT
— Oga-NEPA (@AsiwajuAdesina) May 1, 2020
Access Bank to lay off 75% of its staff, -MD Herbert Wigwe.
D mass retrenchment is due to d outcome of d COVID 19 lockdown.🙆
Why 🤷 would Access give millions of #N 2 Govt. & turn around to lay off poor staff.
— PrinceSaintˢᵀ🤴Of Brekete🔱 (@PUdemson) May 1, 2020
One thing i know is Access Bank can't sack those staff who haven't paid up the money for their Kia Cerato 🤣
— 🛡The Mayor of Ibadan🛡 (@Iam_mayorkush) May 1, 2020
You donated 1 billion to FG but you can't pay staff salaries- Nigerian woman tackles Access Bank.
Useless bank.people should start withdrawing from this evil bank
— Zolex facts (@ZReporters) May 1, 2020
Whoever recorded leaked that Access Bank Employee townhall meeting done Microsoft teams is a FOOL, and a big one at that.
Why should you expose your company to public ridicule and scorn. The same company that pays your bills?
Some of you don't think sha o. Sigh.
— Bankole Akintunde Adebayo (@AdeBanqie) May 1, 2020
Access Bank donated 1 billion to FG.
In the name of fighting Covid19.
Then this month, they cut salaries of employees. In the name of hard times.
Donate money to people that didn’t ask.
Starve people who work for you.
What is the colour of this kind of insensitive wickedness?
— #OurFavOnlineDoc 🩺🇳🇬🇬🇧💎 (@DrOlufunmilayo) April 30, 2020
I believe they have a reserve account to fund situation like this, I believe there’s more to the layoff… my heartfelt message to the staff affected… Better days ahead.. #accessbank
— Victor💕 (@victor_shoo) May 1, 2020
After unnecessary donations to an over-financed govt, tea girls, tellers and cleaners have to go! How much in aggregate do you even pay this class of workers monthly? FG should refund donations from private coys to secure jobs. #accessbank
— olafare kunle (@kunlefare) May 1, 2020
Donated 1 Billion,
About To Lay Off Staffs,
Debited All Customers N53.73k To
Recover The Donated 1 Billion At The Expense Of Customers And Staffs.
Access Bank Ndewo, Unu Di Too Much.
— ✊🏿 GỌZIE ✊🏿 (@CallMeGozie) May 1, 2020
So everyone one is blaming Access bank's MD for wanting to lay off 75% of his staff.
His staff o,not their staff😂
So if na una papa business you go gree make them they pay full salary till the pandemic ends.Pandemic wey we no sabi when e go end.
— ASHABI SHA DOLLAR💸 (@lactosedrop) May 1, 2020
The 1bn Access Bank gave towards the COVID-19 effort has been of benefit to many people.Nigeria tests&treats COVID-19 patients for free. That money comes from somewhere.I understand the outrage at people losing jobs but their donation as fodder for anger is completely misplaced.
— Babanla (@biolakazeem) May 1, 2020
Access bank lay-off is a tricky topic, and obviously, pay cut would have been a better option but the donation is not the issue
Access bank 2019 reported staff cost is about N61billion, that’s an average of N5billion a month. Did they donate up to a month’s staff cost?
— Yommss of Lagos✌🏽#EndSARS (@yohmie_) May 1, 2020