They said I was a failure
when I couldn’t spell Austrailure.
Now I can spell Australia
and they still say I’m a falia.
by Michael Rosen
The above children poem on spelling sums up my feeling about this Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) going on in Nigeria. BVN is Nigeria Central Bank way of getting all customers identified, also to increase security on accounts by making sure all bank accounts are linked to identifiable owners, in the process hopefully get hold of public olojukokoro (thieves) with dozens of bank accounts stocked with public fund.
If you come up with a brilliant idea to curb corruption, then make it easy on everyone to comply, do not make it seems like our lives depended on it by giving mind-boggling conditions that only shows this initiative failed to do necessary ground work which includes thought-out challenges likely to pose to Nigerians at home and in diaspora.
To carry out this seemingly simple task, we are all expected to visit our banks, really? But why on earth do Nigeria government allows CBN to put a deadline on this important initiative?
Considering the huge number of Nigerians in diaspora where sometimes getting to the next Nigerian banks with oversea branch is additional travel expense, why can’t we do this online? And why do you keep treating 150M or so people like bunch of city idiots (village folks wouldn’t do this to people).
This week, Nigeria CBN shamelessly announced that over 5 million Nigerians have not done their BVN, and some folks were surprised, I am not sure why they were. I am one of those people who refused to jump on the silly rule. I have two bank accounts, one with Diamond and the other with GTB. The Diamond Bank one was dormant long ago but I still have a few thousand naira in it. I wanted to close it once to stop them bothering me with silly emails, they wanted my mother’s kidney (pun) to prove I am the true owner so I said, hell is your home and left them. I only had a few hours in VI that day and in no mood educating idiot on the counter.
My GTB one, there is no way I am wasting my day with them either in Nigeria or in London, I am sure next time I make a visit to the bank, they will yell at me and wondered if I was deaf to the news flying about. I plan to be quiet and be a good Omo Yoruba. When that day comes, if they refused to release my money then I will put on my Christian hat and say to them from the bottom of my heart that ‘God will judge all of you’ – that’s what you say to insane decision makers who refused to treat people like adults they are.
Why can’t I just find time and visit the banks? Not interested and here’s why. Our embassy in diaspora specifically London treats us the same way, but because we still have to visit them, we put up with their inconsiderate rules, I am not given banks that much power over me.
Here is a better way of treating bank customers. When I left Seattle years ago, I had $2k in my current account, the money was traceable to my college job. At a point, maybe 10 years or so ago, USA was doing this same exercise that Nigeria is doing now, I received a message to sign some paper work as they can tell the account was dormant and wanted to be sure a real human was behind the account, which I happily complied with. I later spent my money when I was ready. Imagine if they asked that I come to the States just to prove my existence?
Out of the 5M people who haven’t done this BVN, how hard is it to trace past transactions on every account, put restrictions so people get to verify when next they use the account?
Two years ago I had no problem depositing a ‘large’ amount in to my sister’s account, but when she wanted to withdraw, the bank demanded that she prove where she got this large sum because it was different from her normal transactions, she explained the money was from her sister, the bank refused to take her words for it, I was impressed.
I had to speak on the phone to a bank staff and then provide a string of email that links to Nigeria Stock Exchange guy because the cash was from a group share sale and on top my passport page sent to them. And all information provided were verifiable. They were satisfied.
Nigerian banks are very active with SMS and internet services – they should be made to learn from other banks around the world and treat us the right way.
Nigeria banks/government will throw tantrums for ordinary citizens having 500k naira in their accounts but ignore and waste limited resources before bringing just one obvious public thief to book.
I have no problem with account verification initiative, I wholeheartedly support it but given deadline is laughable, put restrictions and trace people with substantial amount in their account, it is not that difficult.
This is why I think this initiative is a falia in reference to the poem above.