Contract staffs bear the brunt, as banks lay off 8,584 members of their workforce in a year

Despite being one of the largest employers of labour in Nigeria, a mix of a socio-economic crisis largely induced by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced Nigerian banks to retrench a total of 8,584 members (mostly Contract staffs) of their workforce in 2020.

This is according to recent data released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, seen by

According to the disclosure, the total staff strength in the Nigerian banking sector decreased to 95,026 as at the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q4, 2020) as against a total of 103,610 workers recorded in the corresponding period in 2019, representing a decline of about 8.28% YoY.

It is pertinent to note that the decline is majorly influenced by the huge retrenchment of contract staff, which dipped from a total of 45,350 as at Q4 2019 to 39,798 in corresponding period in 2020, indicating a decline of about 12.24% YoY.

All categories of banks workforce recorded a dip except the Executive staff segment which experienced a growth of about 39.7% YoY. Others like Senior and Junior staff recorded a dip of 4.39% and 5.78% respectively.

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Beyond the numbers

Recall that at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were heightened fears over possible retrenchment of workers in the banking sector, given a decline in the profitability of most businesses during the aforementioned period. The Central Bank of Nigeria and some of the banks allayed these fears, assuring workers and Nigeria of its support to workers during the trying times.

Despite the assurances, recent data both from the NBS and the individual financial statements of the banks, showed that these banks actually laid off some of its workers during the period under review. For example between December 2019 and December 2020, First Bank retrenched about 674 workers, while GT Bank and Access Bank laid of a total of 412 and 117 workers respectively.

On the other hand, banks disbursed a gross loan of about N20.37 trillion to the private sector in the fourth quarter of 2020, with the Oil/ Gas and Manufacturing sectors getting a lion share of N3.93 trillion and N3.19 trillion respectively.