15th March, 2012
Bank workers in the Ogun-East Senatorial District of Ogun State commenced an indefinite strike as from today, an official said in Abeokuta.
The majority of the bank workers observed the strike but a few of them were still offering skeletal services as at the time of filing this report.
Mr. Olusegun Olusola, the Chairman, Ijebuland Bankers’ Forum, told a press conference in Abeokuta that the strike was to protest the failure of the state government to deliver on its promise.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state government had promised to provide Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) to forestall incessant robbery attacks on banks in the area.
The Ogun-East Senatorial District consists of nine of the 20 local govern ments areas in the state.
The Chairman then directed all bank workers in the area to stay away from work until further notice, adding that no skeletal service should be provided.
He also said that there should be no loading of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) by any bank.
Olusola noted that any robbery attack arising as a result of culpability of any bank shall be viewed as a connivance with robbers.
“The Forum shall not defend or issue any statement to absolve any bank official who out of his carelessness allows his bank to be robbed through skeletal service rendered,” he said.
He said the directive would be in force until the government met their demands on security issues.
The bank workers’ union official said the union and its members regretted possible hardship their action might bring on members of the public.
He, however, called upon well-meaning residents of the state to prevail on the government to respond urgently to the security challenges facing banks in the area.
NAN recalls that bank workers in the state under the aegis of Ogun State Bankers Forum had on Monday met with representatives of the state government.
They had at the meeting registered their displeasure over what they described as insensitivity of government to the insecurity challenges facing banks in the state, particularly in the Ijebuland areas.
At the meeting, the bank workers decried the failure of the state government to deliver on its promise to beef up security around the banks through the purchase of APCs.
Ogun government, however, stated that payments have been made for the purchase of the APCs, and that they would soon be delivered to the state.
Meanwhile, commercial activities across Ijebu Ode have been paralysed following the closure of banks in the area.
P.M.NEWS checks revealed that banks in all the six local government areas in Ijebuland have been shut down for over a month now.
Banks in Sagamu and some towns in Remo have also been shut due to recent robbery attacks on two banks located within the premises of Babcock University, Ilishan Remo in Ikenne Local Government Area of the state.
However, the strike action called by the bank workers’ union in the state today to press home their demand from the state government to provide adequate security for them was partially ignored by some bank workers.
Checks round the gateway state this morning by our correspondent revealed that only banks in Ijebuland and Remo land complied fully with the directives while normal banking operations went on in banks within Abeokuta metropolis, Ilaro, Aiyetoro and other towns in Egba and Egbado.
Most of the residents who spoke with our correspondent lamented over what they described as ‘unbearable hardship’.
They called on the state government to urgently do something before things get out of hand.
Traders across various major markets in Ijebuland like Imushin, Iwopin, Ita Osu, Oke Aje, Ode Omi among others complained that business was not booming.
Speaking with our correspondent, one of the market leaders in Ijebuland, Alhaji Taiwo Animashaun faulted the state government for not taking security matters seriously.
According to him,” the state government has not done well in this area. The bank closure has affected everybody in the area, including our market men and women. Sales are at their lowest ebb now, hardly would you see somebody making a profit of about N1000 in a week now. I want to believe that the government is not doing what is expected of it and if care is not taken, things may get worse.”
Another trader from Ijebu Imushin lamented the loss she had incurred in the last one month, adding “ this is terrible. We cannot explain it again, the banks have closed down and we don’t know where to run to for small loans we always get from them to boost our businesses. Now we have finished everything we have, what else do we do? Amosun has disappointed us, why can’t he fulfil the promise he made to the bankers, after all, these people do pay their tax as at when due?” she fumed.
When our correspondent moved round some of the banks this morning, it was a different story as only First Bank ATM machine, along Ibadan road in Ijebu Ode was working and it was crowded with people who had come from far and near to withdraw some money.
One man who simply identified himself as Papa Sam disclosed that he had come all the way from Ilushin in Ogun Waterside area of the state.
“ I got here this morning around 8.30am, but to my surprise, I met over 300 people already on the queue waiting to collect money from the machine. It is only the First Bank machine that is working in Ijebuland and you people are saying that we have government, what has the government done since these robbers entered Ogun State? Nothing. All what we have been hearing is that they have ordered for armoured tanks,” he queried.
One of the officials from Skye Bank who pleaded anonymity told our correspondent this morning that the government is paying lip service to their plight. That was why they called for strike action to put them on their toes, vowing that nothing will make them to go back to work unless adequate security is provided for them.
“The governor has met on several occasions with us and we told him the conditions that will make us to open, but as I am talking to you, neither the governor nor any of his aides has come out to tell us any reasonable thing that would give us confidence in them. There is no going back on our decision, we have met and resolved to embark on the strike action until our demands are met by the government. We cannot continue to lose money and our staffs. Many of them are suffering from ailments ranging from heart attack, hypertension because of these robbers.
“ I believe that it is the responsibility of the government to provide adequate security for lives and property for its citizenry and if the government of Ogun state has not seen this as their sole responsibility, then the people will decide. We also have wives, husbands, children and relatives. Our issues must be taken seriously. The last time armed robbers went into the governor’s office, both the governor and the former Commissioner of Police in the state were saying many things as if they truly meant what they were saying. What do we see after, the robbers struck again in banks in Ijebu Igbo, Ijebu Imushin and Babcock University in Ilishan. Enough is enough,” the bank official said.
On what the government should do to solve the problem, a security expert, Chief Donald Adebola Adesanya advised that the government must declare a state of emergency in the security sector and fashion out strategies with all the security agencies including some security consultants to have a breakthrough.
According to the septuagenarian,” the government is putting the cart before the horse. What needs to be done now is to declare a state of emergency in the sector. Let the governor assess the security network of the state very well. I have been saying it since 2010 that the security network is bad, nobody listened to me. I even said back then that if something is not done before the 2011 general elections, things will be worse in Ogun state in terms of security lapses. What are we witnessing now?”
He further stated that “all the entry points into the state must be thoroughly checked, all the security agencies must meet with the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the governor, if one exists, at least once in a week. This will keep them on their toes. Issues raised at the meeting will form part of the blueprint to work on how to tackle the menace posed by robbers. The robbers are not spirit, they live among us and we too could be of help by promptly alerting the police of any suspicious movement in our area. But the police are funny a times, you understand me now?” he concluded.
Armed robbers have in the last two months been terrorising the gateway state with most of their operations carried out in the banks. Many lives have been lost while billions of naira have been carted away by the men of the underworld.
—Abiodun Onafuye/Abeokuta with Agency report