An international wave of mergers and acquisitions has swept the banking industry as boundaries between financial sectors and products have blurred dramatically. There is therefore the need for countries to have sound resilient banking systems with good corporate governance, which will strengthen and upgrade the institution to survive in an increasingly open environment. In Nigeria, the Central Bank unveiled new banking guidelines designed to consolidate and restructure the industry through mergers and acquisition. This was to make Nigerian banks more competitive and be able to operate in the global market. Despite all its attempts, the Central Bank of Nigeria disclosed that after the consolidation in 2006, 741 cases of attempted fraud and forgery involving N5.4 billion were reported. In the light of the above, this research examined the relationships that exist between governance mechanisms and financial performance in the Nigerian consolidated banks. And also to find out if there is any significant relationship between the level of corporate governance disclosure index among Nigerian banks and their performance. The Pearson Correlation and the regression analysis were used to find out whether there is a relationship between the corporate governance variables and firm’s performance. In examining the level of corporate governance disclosures of the sampled banks, a disclosure index was developed guided by the CBN code of governance and also on the basis of the papers prepared by the UN secretariat for the nineteenth session of ISAR (International Standards of Accounting and Reporting). The study therefore observed that a negative but significant relationship exists between board size, board composition and the financial performance of these banks, while a positive and significant relationship was also noticed between directors’ equity interest, level of governance disclosure and performance. Furthermore, the t- test result indicated that while a significant difference was observed in the profitability of the healthy banks and the rescued banks, no difference was seen in the profitability of banks with foreign directors and that of banks without foreign directors. The study therefore concludes that there is no uniformity in the disclosure of corporate governance practices by the banks. Likewise, the banks do not disclose in general how their debts are performing, by providing a statement that expresses outstanding debts in terms of their ages and due dates. The study suggests that efforts to improve corporate governance should focus on the value of the stock ownership of board members. Also, steps should be taken for mandatory compliance with the code of corporate governance while an effective legal framework should be developed that specifies the rights and obligations of a bank, its directors, shareholders, specific disclosure requirements and provide for effective enforcement of the law.
1.0 Background to the Study
Given the fury of activities that have affected the efforts of banks to comply with the various consolidation policies and the antecedents of some operators in the system, there are concerns on the need to strengthen corporate governance in banks. This will boost public confidence and ensure efficient and effective functioning of the banking system (Soludo, 2004a). According to Heidi and Marleen (2003:4), banking supervision cannot function well if sound corporate governance is not in place. Consequently, banking supervisors have strong interest in ensuring that there is effective corporate governance at every banking organization. As opined by Mayes, Halme and Aarno (2001), changes in bank ownership during the 1990s and early 2000s substantially altered governance of the world’s banking organization. These changes in the corporate governance of banks raised very important policy research questions. The fundamental question is how do these changes affect bank performance.CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE OF BANKS: A STUDY OF LISTED BANKS IN NIGERIA