Zenith Bank in internal crisis over alleged failure to pay staff Productivity Bonus

The recent resignation of the Zenith Bank’s Information Technology, IT Officer climaxed the internal bickering, commotion and frustration being experienced by the staffs of the bank.

Last month, the bank’s IT officer quit and joined another bank over his former employer’s failure to pay his full entitlements and bonuses. One of such unpaid entitlements according to investigation is Productivity Bonus. The money, as explained by the aggrieved staffs is payable annually to all staffs based on their productivity assessment.

“Zenith Bank failure to pay us our Productivity Bonus is an unconcealed disregard to the terms of our engagements as stipulated in our appointment letters”, a senior staff of the bank told Journalists on condition of anonymity.

 

Otherwise called Profit Sharing, PS, the Productivity Bonus is said to be an annual benefit for each and every staff member based on their branch’s performances. Multiple sources within the bank said that “since we joined Zenith Bank many years ago, everybody got his or her PS bonus annually. It’s a kind of money that boosts the morale of a banker to work harder in the presiding year. Depending on the performance of each branch, some of us used to get over a million naira and so on. But all these came to an end when Peter Amangbo became the MD/CEO of the bank”.

“Zenith Bank is no more in our own interest”, says a 56 years old staff of the bank who added that the PS is now been paid on the basis on whom you know”. He alleged that “in 2015 when Amangbo came on board as the MD, a form of confidentiality was served on all staff. The bank compelled the staff to sign an agreement not to disclose any information to anyone. And that is why when in early April, 2021, the bank paid PS to selected staffs, most of them kept mute without telling any of their colleagues. The PS is now for the friends and allies of senior directors and zonal managers. Staffs now exhibit lackadaisical attitude towards their official job, resulting to too much queues and system collapse in our banking halls, very sad,”

 

It was gathered that not a few staff of the bank is considering the option of quitting their job over what they describe as “injustice and scandalous system” occasioned by the bank’s failure to be transparent in the disbursement of the Productivity Bonus. Some of the bankers who speak on condition of anonymity said that they felt relieved when Ebenezer Onyeagwu became the MD, assuming that he will right the wrong but according to them, “we were once again disappointed as the injustice and existence of class among the staffs continue”.

 

Even when Reporters were presented with copies of appointment letters where PS was conspicuously stated, the bank’s corporate affairs officer, Ayoola Kusimo denied the existence of such policy, stressing that “if the management promise you something and they change their minds not to do it again. What’s the big deal? Ayoola further stated that the resignation of any staff will not affect the operation of the bank.

 

THE BITTER TALES FROM THE CUSTOMERS

 

In April, 2021, Zenith Bank allegedly paid productivity bonus to selected staff and the IT Officer of the bank was unlucky not to be paid. He was said to have left in anger. Sources within the bank confirmed that the IT Officer shut down the bank’s entire system before he left.

 

This, according to findings was why the bank experiences system failure and transaction delays in recent times. Last week, customers of one of the branches in Ota axis were at the bank’s entrance for more than three hours after which a bank staff came out to address them and begged for time to salvage the situation. “We’re very sorry. We have technical issue with our network system. Please go and come back later in the day’’, he said.

 

The same situation is experienced in virtually all the branches of the bank in the country. Customers experience difficulties in fund transfer, withdrawal, etc.

 

A visit to any of the Zenith bank’s customer service center, online portals and social media handles in recent times depict uncontrollable crowd of customers with bitter narratives, ranging from difficulties in fund transfer to cash withdrawal. That has been the ordeal of the Zenith bank’s customers for the past two months.

 

THE FRAUD:

 

Amidst the PS crises, the resignation of the IT Officer and its consequence on the bank’s network apparatus, an Ilorin branch Customer Officer of Zenith bank changed customer’s alert line and kept debiting the account without the knowledge of the account owner. She was subsequently caught and sacked immediately.

 

Similar situation was recorded in Benue, the bank recently fired a customer service officer who altered the bank’s customer alert number for the purpose of defrauding the customer.

 

At the same time, a dollar account with Zenith’s bank branch in Deidei area of Abuja was under EFCC investigation. So, a restriction was placed on the said account. It has to do with a case involving the bank’s auditor and its lawyer. But the branch manager got a fake court injunction to remove the restriction.

 

Its therefore suggests that there is mutual mistrust between the staff and the management of Zenith Bank as more cases of fraud and manipulations of customers information to perpetuate fraud were exemplified during the bank’s recent Fraud and Policy Awareness Training.

 

Founded by Jim Ovia in 1990, Zenith Bank has since grown to become one of the leading financial institutions in Africa with about 500 branches and over 7,544 staff strength.

 

The bank’s current MD/CEO, Ebenezer Onyeagwu is an experienced banker and financial expert, trained in reputable institutions of learning in Nigeria, the United Kingdom and United States of America.

 

Onyeagwu replaced Mr. Peter Amangbo on May 31, 2019. Mr Amangbo was alleged to be the initiator of the PS crises. He leaves the bank at the end of a successful career spanning over 27 years, with the last five years as GMD/CEO.

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