The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC fully identifies with the Nigerian people in their legitimate and fundamental right to have access to their funds illegally withheld in the banks.
It is harrowing for millions of our fellow countrymen and women to stand in long queues for hours at banks and Automated Teller Machines, ATMs in their effort to retrieve their legitimate funds from the banks.
Our hearts go out to ordinary Nigerians and their families who are forced to undergo hardship including inability to buy food, basic medicines or pay for transportation because their monies are hanging in the banking system.
It is also understandable that in some cases, the patience of people is worn so thin that they have resorted to protests and publicly demonstrating their feelings and frustrations.
However, some of these protests are wrongly directed at bank workers and other staff of financial institutions. The TUC states publicly before our fellow compatriots that bank and financial institution employees had no input whatsoever in the naira redesign policy nor were they consulted. They also have no hand whatsoever in the printing of the new naira notes nor are they responsible for the release of the new currencies by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the bank workers themselves do not have these cash.
The Bank and Financial Institution Employees at junior and senior staff levels are mere workers who distribute only currencies made available to the various banks by the regulatory agencies.
Even the CBN which initially claimed that banks were hoarding the new currencies has admitted that it has been unable to provide the new notes in sufficient quantities to meet public needs. Unfortunately, the initial dummy sold to the public that the banks were hoarding the new bank notes, was bought by some members of the public who have come to see the banks, bank staff and even ATMs as legitimate targets of attack.
Congress appeals that this misdirected anger should stop. Our fellow compatriots should realize that bank staff are like other Nigerians, victims of the poor implementation of the new currency design policy. They suffer like other Nigerians as they also have families to cater for and personal financial needs to meet. There are some allegations of a handful of bank staff withholding the new currency notes; if this were proven, we would not oppose the law taking its course. This however, can be no basis to find all bank workers guilty.
We assure members of the public that the TUC, to which the Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions ASSBIFI belong, is doing everything in its powers to find a solution to this financial crisis. It is also ready for peaceful solidarity actions with other Nigerians in collaboration with market associations, youth and student groups, professional associations and civil society organisations. We are willing to participate in exerting pressure on the various governments and financial regulators to return the country to normalcy.
The TUC utilizes this opportunity to once again warn the Buhari administration that it has no right to use maximum force on Nigerians peacefully demonstrating against the failure of government to produce depositors’ money on demand. The use of live bullets against defenseless Nigerians as the first line of response is criminal. The Presidency, members of this government including the chiefs of police and other security services must know that the TUC can compile evidence of such atrocities and seek to bring them to justice if not in Nigeria, then outside the country. They must also realize that crime has no statutory limitation, so they can be made to account for their deeds as individuals even after leaving office.
Congress does not in any way encourage miscreants, and those destroying public/ private infrastructures, looting the valuables of innocent Nigerians and shops under the guise of protest, if caught and investigated, they should be made to face the law.
The TUC appeals to the Nigerian masses not to be provoked, and where they choose to publicly demonstrate their feelings, which is their human right, to do so peacefully.
Comrade (Engr) Festus Osifo, Comrade Nuhu Toro,
President. Secretary General.
20th February, 2023