A statement from Ecobank management indicates that Ecobank will now have more 600 branches, with 890 automated teller machines. The integration affords former customers of Oceanic Bank the opportunity to conduct business in any of the merged branch network. It added that the same applied to all existing customers of Ecobank Nigeria. This also indicates that “all customers of Oceanic Bank can use Ecobank” and vice versa, but the reverse is the case.
Findings however revealed that customers of Ecobank have the full edge over Oceanic customers. Whenever Ecobank customers visit any of Oceanic Bank outlets, they are attended to with promptly and with great respect because of the fear instilled in them by the management of Ecobank and due to the number of their colleagues that were sacked recently. But this invalidates the case with Oceanic Bank customers when they visit Oceanic Bank outlets. Customers have complained bitterly that the staff of the bank leave them unattended to whenever they discover they are Oceanic Bank customers.
The same thing also applies to the automated teller machines, ATM. An ATM of Oceanic Bank cannot be used in Ecobank and the ATM of Oceanic cannot be used in Ecobank; they just don’t recognize each other. And if one decides to keep on trying, the machines would seize the card, a customer lamented. In some cases they are debited without actually getting paid and when they complain, they are directed to Oceanic Bank. It has become a thing of embarrassment to customers because they are not even allowed to get to the ATM points once they signify they are holding Oceanic Bank ATM cards. In some instances the machine would charge N100, a surcharge that applies to interbank transactions.
Customers who want to collect cash often end up disappointed because the server is perpetually down; the same as people with cheques.
According to information at our disposal, the staff of Oceanic Bank cannot complain about all this for fear of losing their job. One of the staffers lamented. “They are not being fair to us; they are sending all Oceanic Bank customers back to old Oceanic Bank branches, while we will help in attending to their customers and at the end of the day, they still get higher pay than us.”
Weeks back, almost all Oceanic Bank branches were shut to workers and customers as customers could not withdraw or deposit due to the peanuts that Ecobank offered the disengaged staff of Oceanic. It will be recalled weeks back, Jubril Aku, the MD of Ecobank Plc laid off 4000 staff of Oceanic Bank a week after the bank laid off 1,500. Sources revealed that since the Human Resources officer of Oceanic Bank was sacked last year and Mrs. Ronke Wilson assumed as Group Chief Human Resources, it has been a different ball game. She is busy cleaning and clearing the bank of whoever is not in her good books, not minding the efficiency and years of service of the individual. However, enraged staffers who were sacked that day showed the old woman their true color. An insider revealed that while the staff of Oceanic were lamenting over the issue of sack, the staff of Ecobank were getting promoted to higher levels while juicier offers in terms of salary and bonuses also awaited them. The option of resigning or settling for a 50 per cent cut in their salary and allowances was thrown to Oceanic Bank staff.
This all indicates that the CBN Governor has forgotten the assurance that staffers’ jobs would be secure. Will CBN and Nigeria Labour Congress come to the rescue and support of these citizens? It must be noted that these people worked hard but were undermined by the “napkins loan approval process” of the executive management of former Oceanic Bank which destroyed all what they had worked for.
Several Oceanic Bank branches have been shut down without the hope of reopening. Recently Access Bank laid off 1,500 of Intercontinental Bank staff after it concluded its acquisition process. Steps taken by these two banks will boost the number of Nigerians out on the street searching for job.