Monday saw me at one of the new generation banks to perform some transactions. While being attended to, I observed the teller who was attending to the lady next to me asking her why she had not done her Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration, and subsequently informing her that she was not allowed to withdraw from her account as a restriction had been placed on it following the directive from the CBN. I was waiting for the lady whose account had been restricted to offer some form of explanation as to why she was yet to get the registration done up till that moment, but she offered none. She just stood there, staring at the teller with that guilty-as-charged look. Then I thought…why are we like this? Why do Nigerians always take things for granted?
The BVN registration should have ended four months ago. But, the deadline was postponed to the 31st of October when it was obvious that most bank customers were yet to get the registration done. My sister was one of them and I can hardly forget the stress she went through that “initial” final day, before anyone knew the deadline date would be shifted. I felt sorry for her, but laughed at her too because I had told and reminded her to try to get it done before that day. But like the true Nigerian that she is, she left it till the last minute.
In July, I wrote a satirical piece on “How To Be A Nigerian” here where I mentioned leaving important stuff until very late as one of the traits of the typical Nigerian. Needless to say that the chaos in some banks towards the end of last week and this week as proved me right once again. After the last window period was extended, there was a popular meme making the rounds which predicted that Nigerians would be back at the banks on the 31st of October, being the last day of registration once again, many of us laughed it off, but that prediction has come to pass!
The stats have it that out of the 52 million active bank accounts in Nigeria, only a little over 20 million have been duly registered for the BVN. This means that less than half of bank customers are at risk of being barred from accessing their money or performing certain transactions on their account going by the CBN rule. Even though, strictly enforcing this rule will certainly not be expedient for banks and customers alike, it’s really difficult to place any blame on the CBN for any punitive measures taken now.
In fairness to them, the awareness for this BVN registration started since early last year, and virtually all media were employed to inform bank customers of its importance. I recall vividly seeing bank staff practically appeal to customers in those early days of the registration to fill the forms and get the process done, but many waved them off, promising to do it later. I was one of them, until I made up my mind to stop procrastinating one day. In fact, I had to repeat the process at another bank when the first registration I did didn’t yield any result for some reason. I figured there was no way I wanted be at the mercy of anyone over my own money. That was enough motivation for me.
This BVN saga has just left me bemused about why we are the way we are. Why do we like to cause ourselves unnecessary hardship when we have the option of taking the less stressful route? Maybe we are just wired that way. Sometimes, it’s funny, but trust me, anyone who has had their account barred would certainly not be smiling now, especially if they know within themselves that they have no genuine reason not to have done the needful at the right time. It is true that some bank customers who have done their registration and obtained their BVN still had their accounts barred; a situation that clearly absolves the customer of any blame and indicts the bank, but, the truth is that many have found themselves in this chaotic registration struggle today because of their lackadaisical attitude to things.
A nonchalant attitude is detrimental to almost every aspect of our lives. It is one of the reasons why many have not made progress in certain areas the way they should. Almost all of us of are guilty of it one way or the other. Someone has that persistent headache that has just refused to go away, and that never used to be there before, yet they shrug it off as stress induced until they pass out one day and tests reveal they actually have a brain tumour! I can’t remember the last time I went for my eye check up, something I shouldn’t be joking with considering family history, so I am very guilty too.
We may attribute our insouciant disposition to important things to a chockablock schedule all we want, but we must remember that these things add up at the end of the day. A word they say is enough for the wise.