BVN: Making Money From CBN’s Policy The Nigerian Banks’ Way | Independent Newspapers Limited
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On The Prowl

BVN: Making Money From CBN’s Policy The Nigerian Banks’ Way

Posted: Jul 25, 2015 at 12:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Justin Akpovi Esade

I WAS copied in a petition online last week, which I have reproduced unedited here.

“The requirement to carry out the Bank Verification Process was brought up by the banks for the benefit of the banks and the CBN in Nigeria. This exercise is carried out free of any charge if you walk into any bank, and you only need to do it once regardless of the number of bank account you have across different banks.

“It is coming as a shock to me that Nigerian Banks are asking Nigerians in the Diaspora to pay around £30 to do this process. This is unjust and will not be allowed to happen. We have bank branches here in the UK, and we have Nigerian Missions in the Diaspora, these places should conduct the verification just like it is being done in Nigeria, otherwise the cost should be borne by the various banks. Please help stop this infraction NOW.”

The petitioners claimed to have copied the CBN Governor of Nigeria, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representative and president Muhammadu Buhari as well as the former Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri.

I decided to test the authenticity of petition by posting it on my Facebook Timeline. The reaction it elicited, especially from my online friends living in the Diaspora was better imagined. More than three of them living in the UK and France confirmed the attempt by banks to fleece Nigerians via the Bank Verification Number, BVN exercise.

One of them went further by sending me an email from Fidelity Bank sent to her when she enquired about the BVN fee.

Dated July 10, the letter after a brief education about the BVN informed the customer about the “service charge” of GBP 30 “per enrolment/per customer” while it gave two addresses in London and Leicester where the exercise would be carried out on Fridays (only) from 10am through 4pm.

Since this brewing scandal broke, none of the banks involved in this mess has issued a clarification on why it is charging Nigerians in the Diaspora as high as 30 Euro/pounds for an exercise that is free in Nigeria.

The excuse could be that the fee would cover logistics since the customers live abroad. But then, are these not same banks that proudly reel out cities in Europe, America and across Africa that they have branches in their bid to woo customers? Maybe now we know that what they call ‘branches’ in the UK and other countries in Europe are mere operational desks because the exercise is being done by a private firm in the UK contracted perhaps by the bank unlike the situation here where you just walk into any bank and get it done.

I knew it would come to this. The kind of aggression Nigerian banks display in sourcing for funds is alarming to say the least. Have you wondered why you get deductions from your money at the end of the month for ‘ATM Maintenance’? You were also charged over a thousand naira to be issued the card whether you want it or not. And after the exit of former Governor of the CBN, Sanusi Lamido who is now the Emir of Kano, customers are now being charged for also using their ATM to do transaction. So I knew it was just a matter of time for the banks to concoct a means to use this unending BVN process to make some money.

The silence of the Central Bank of Nigeria over this outcry by Nigerians living in Europe is unsettling. If we kept quiet, the banks will soon ask Nigerians living in African countries to pay a similar fee, perhaps lower than their Europe counterpart and finally, before the October deadline for the end of the BVN exercise, Nigerians living in Nigeria would be paying for it under one guise.

Na our banks way be dat.


NDLEA Vs Davido: Much ado about nothing

THERE appears to be a lull in activities of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and this accounted for the brewing showdown between the government agency and Nigerian pop star, Davido over the alleged investigation of hisFans mi video by the NDLEA which is perceived to be a promotion of narcotics.

There can’t be any other reason for the ‘investigation’. So maybe the drug agency should get busy and start arresting real drug traffickers instead of this ‘for the camera’ display mission it is embarking on at the moment.

The Director of Public Affairs of the NDLEA, Mitchell Ofoyeju was reportedly quoted in an interview recently that the agency had set up an investigative panel over Fans Mi video. “I am aware that a panel is working on it (the video). The panel was set up soon after the video was released few weeks ago. When our attention was drawn to it, we viewed it and we discovered that it was improper. There is no moral lesson in it and he was just advertising drug trafficking. In the video, he exchanged a brief case supposedly containing narcotics for dollars. He was displaying affluence (and what is wrong in displaying affluence in a musical video?) in the video. If it (the plot) had climaxed in an arrest and possible detention, we would have congratulated him for partnering with us.”

So Ofoyeju expects everybody to ‘partner’ with the NDLEA. I am laughing.

He continued. “But the way he portrayed drug trafficking in the video was a means to an end, which the end is a life of affluence which we disagree with. We are looking at the issue holistically. We believe that there should be a body that was supposed to censor videos before they go out. Those are the things we want to investigate and verify. Was the video submitted for approval? If it was submitted, why was it approved, with such content?’ Ofoyeju submitted.

The now controversial music video was shot by Sesan Ogunro and featured American rapper, Meek Mill.

Davido waved the ‘investigation’ away in a twitter response. Anybody would do that. The NDLEA is seeking cheap attention. The body should know that Davido is just copying the video trend of American music stars like Snoop Dog and 50 Cent among others where drugs are openly displayed. As a music critic, the video is very empty, lacks creativity and originality and should not be taken seriously. But the drug twist the NDLEA is bringing to it makes the whole thing laughable.

If they suspect Davido of drug dealing, they should have put him under surveillance in a clandestine manner and not alert him with this display of ‘over sabi’ which has warned the music star already. It shows how ‘effective’ the NDLEA are.

I have seen ‘Fans Mi’ several times on Pay TV and the only recommendation I will have is for the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, to place a viewer restriction on it on terrestrial TV. Nothing else.

The NDLEA should endeavour to do its job quietly and not usurp the role of the NBC in questioning what people should watch or not watch on TV.