There is disquiet in the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, over plan by the new management to fully relocate major departments from the Abuja headquarters to the former headquarters in Lagos
This initiative, contained in a circular dated January 12, 2023, from the director of the human resources department to all staff is designed to align with building safety standards and enhance office space efficiency.
The circular noted that the decision was prompted by safety concerns, increased health and accident risks, and the need to comply with building regulations, following repeated warnings from the facility manager and recommendations from the committee on decongestion of the CBN head office building.
With the current occupancy level exceeding the optimal capacity, the CBN plans to relocate 1,533 staff to other facilities within Abuja, Lagos, and understaffed branches. The move addresses critical challenges such as safety concerns, reduced efficiency, and potential compromise to the building’s structural integrity.
The decongestion is expected to improve operational and workflow efficiency through strategic alignment, skill distribution, embracing geographical mobility, and process optimization. Strategic alignment involves redistributing departments and staff based on the functions and objectives of the bank. This includes optimizing collaboration by placing certain departments in proximity to financial institutions’ head offices, predominantly located in Lagos.
Recognizing the importance of diverse and specialized talents, the CBN aims to distribute technical skills across all branches, addressing shortages at the branch level. Geographical mobility becomes a key focus, emphasizing staff rotations between branches to broaden perspectives, enhance adaptability, and foster collaboration.
The ongoing reorganization is not a random shuffle but a targeted effort toward process optimization. Collaboration with Branch Controllers aims to tailor department placement to the unique strengths and needs of each branch, enhancing overall operational effectiveness.
While change can be unsettling, the CBN is committed to keeping staff informed throughout the process. Individual notifications will be provided to affected departments and personnel by their respective directors.
However, some staff of the CBN see the planned decongestion as “a ploy to shed weight”.
A source told The Nation that some politically exposed staff of the bank have either resigned or been moved to locations outside Abuja. “More are already considering throwing in the towel because they cannot function well outside Abuja or Lagos”.
Already about 80 percent of the staff of the Banking Supervision Department of the CBN have been transferred to Lagos. The official reason is that the Head Offices of the banks they’re supposed to supervise are located in Lagos. Only a skeletal number of staff of the Department are left behind in Abuja.
The same has happened to the Payment System Management Department (PSMD) because “the department deals mostly with entities based in Lagos. The Payment System Management Department (PSMD) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) oversees various entities involved in the payment system.
Some of these entities include commercial banks, microfinance banks, payment service providers, mobile money operators, payment terminal service providers, payment solution service providers, and electronic money issuers. These entities play crucial roles in facilitating secure and efficient payment transactions within Nigeria’s financial system.
As part of the decongestion exercise, the Director Medical Services Department has been moved to the FSS Department in Maitama, a development that has many staff of the CBN questioning the rationale behind her movement.
Generally, there is anxiety amongst staff of the apex bank as every week staff are being transferred out of the Headquarters.
The circular reads: “This is to notify all staff members at the CBN Head Office that we have initiated a decongestion action plan designed to optimize the operational environment of the Bank. This initiative aims to ensure compliance with building safety standards and enhance the efficient utilization of our office space.
“This action is necessitated by several factors, including the need to align the Bank’s structure with its functions and objectives, redistribute skills to ensure a more even geographical spread of talent and comply with building regulations, as indicated by repeated warnings from the Facility Manager, and the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Decongestion of the CBN Head Office Building.
“The action plan focuses on optimizing the utilization of other Bank’s premises. With this plan, 1,533 staff will be moved to other CBN facilities within Abuja, Lagos and understaffed branches.
“Our current occupancy level of 4,233 significantly exceeds the optimal capacity of 2,700 designed for the Head Office building. This overcrowding poses several critical challenges:
1. Safety Concerns: The building’s infrastructure was designed for a specific number of occupants. Exceeding this capacity has raised safety concerns, increased health and accident risks – and hinders efficient emergency evacuation.
2. Reduced Efficiency: Crowded workspaces are negatively impacting productivity and collaboration. Additionally, overstretched facilities have led to increased maintenance costs.
3. Structural Integrity: The building’s integrity can be compromised by exceeding its designed capacity.
Decongestion will also improve our operational and workflow efficiency in the following ways:
1. Strategic alignment: The decision to redistribute departments and staff is rooted in a strategic approach to align the structure of the Bank with its functions and objectives. Certain departments may be better suited to operate in proximity to Financial Institutions’ head offices, which are predominantly located in Lagos. This strategic alignment ensures optimal collaboration and efficiency.
2. Skill distribution: The concentration of technical skills in the Abuja Head Office has led to a shortage at the branch level. Recognizing the importance of diverse and specialized talents across all branches, the reorganization seeks to redistribute technical skills to ensure that each branch has the necessary expertise for its specific operational needs.
3. Embracing geographical mobility: Given the CBN’s extensive network of branches across the nation, the reorganization also emphasizes the importance of staff rotations between branches. By experiencing new environments, stakeholders, and opportunities, staff members will broaden their perspectives, enhance their adaptability, and foster stronger collaboration across the organization.
4. Process optimization: The ongoing reorganization is not a random shuffle but a targeted effort towards process optimization. By collaborating with Branch Controllers, the Management aims to tailor the placement of departments to the unique strengths and needs of each branch, thereby enhancing overall operational effectiveness.
We understand that change can be unsettling, and we are committed to keeping you informed throughout the process and providing timely updates on the decongestion plan. Affected departments and personnel will receive individual notifications from their respective Directors.
By implementing this plan, we will: Improve the health and safety of all staff; Enhance productivity and collaboration; Extend the lifespan of the Head Office building; Optimize our resources and reduce costs; create a more comfortable and enjoyable work environment for everyone.
In the meantime, if you have any inquiries, kindly reach out to the Human Resources Department at the following extension numbers:
> EXT: 16552
> EXT: 18314
> EXT: 16513
Thank you for your continued dedication to the Central Bank of Nigeria.