No banking protest records low compliance

CBNBank customers in the country yesterday boycotted banking activities to observe the “No Banking Day” protest against what they termed multiple charges by banks, among others.

Although the boycott had been scored low due to non-awareness and non-commitment by few customers, the effort, according to respondents, has shown that bank customers can devise means to seek redress for poor services.

The Sola Salako-led Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON), in collaboration with the Coalition of Nigerian Consumer Protection Associations, led yesterday’s protest against the assessed excessive charges, unexplainable fees and unfair contracts by banks.

The Guardian investigations in different branches of 11 banks visited yesterday showed that banking activities were running smoothly with the usual long queues.

A majority of the customers interviewed in the banking premises said they were not aware of the protest, saying they would have joined as the multiple charges call for “serious measures to curtail banks’ excesses.”
“Although I am not observing it, I am aware that as many that are aggrieved like me are doing their best to do it. It is actually difficult and that is why they are taking us for granted,” a customer said.

Meanwhile, customers in Ebonyi State yesterday ignored the directive as banks offered full services to their customers.Most of the banks visited by The Guardian showed that customers were seen in their numbers performing one transaction or the other.

At banks along Waterworks Road, banking activities were in full scale as customers were seen doing their transactions.Speaking with The Guardian, one of the bank managers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that though there was a call by a non-governmental organisation that customers should shun banking activities, but as you can see, our customers are in their numbers performing their normal banking transactions.

The banks did not initiate this process, the directive came from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that some deductions should be made and we are just complying with CBN’s directives.

One of the customers, who gave his name as John, said he was not aware of the protest, saying that the awareness was very low.Another customer, a businessman, Mr. Otobo Nwaokerukwu, said he was not aware of the said protest but quickly added that no matter the level of awareness, no businessman will want to keep a large sum of money in his house.

He called on the Federal Government to reverse its decision, noting that the current economic hardship in the country is biting hard mostly on low class citizens of the society.

In the same vein, banks in various locations of Enugu State opened for businesses yesterday as customers thronged them for various
transactions.

At the Nkponkiti junction on Presidential Road where customers besieged the ATM of one of the new generation banks, there were divided opinions on why they did not observe the boycott.

A customer said he did not hear about the boycott, but insisted however, that something needed to be done to check arbitrary charges by the banks.
“They send unsolicited good wishes to you and indirectly collect the money. There is stamp duty charge, account maintenance charge and as well as debit card charge, among other online transactions that attract commissions which are not fair at all”, he said.

Executive Director of Finance at BGL Capital, Femi Ademola, said it is good for consumers to come together to protest their rights, especially as there seems to be no active voice for consumers in the country.

He, however, expressed pessimism that the plan would work given the level of awareness and the nature of banking relationship with their customers.

Also, Head of Investment Research at Afrinvest Securities Limited, Ayodeji Eboh, noted that unregulated charges are cases more pronounced in the country, which is still a function of regulatory oversight with the moral burden to help the consumers.

“I don’t think the protest has gathered any momentum. Protests are more effective before implementation than when it has taken off. Even as it is now, businesses will look at what they stand to lose than what they will gain and that will dampen the morale to comply,” he said.



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