No Banking Day not well observed

No Banking Day not well observed

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 10:35 pm

First Bank, Iju Road today

First Bank, Iju Road today

For one urgent reason or the other, many Lagosians transact business today, despite the No Bankin Day advocacy.

Funsho Balogun

Friday Alabi works with a private secondary school in the Ojodu area of Lagos. Being the school’s accountant, one of his main duties is to ensure that staff salaries are promptly paid at each month’s end. He told TheNEWS at the Guarantee Trust Bank branch in Ojodu this morning that although he is aware of the No Banking day campaign that should have kept customers away from

Access Bank, Fagba area

Access Bank, Fagba area

banking halls, his duty comes first.

While he claimed to sympathize with the course, staff in his school’s employ must receive their February salaries today unfailingly, because it is even coming late being the beginning of another month. ‘’Usually, we pay salaries before the end of the month and. People have bills to pay,’’ he said.

Like Friday, majority of bank customers in Lagos proceeded to various banks today to make transactions despite the No Banking Day protest that should have kept them away from the banks.

While many bank customers claimed to be aware of the No Bankin Day movement, the pressing need to make one transaction or another appeared to have been the bigger priority, ahead of complying with any solidarity call, even as they continue to groan, courtesy of the exorbitant and often inexplicable charges by banks.

Ibukun Oloyede, another customer who TheNEWS met after he concluded his transaction at the only Zenith Bank branch in Akute, Ogun State, came to pay his electricity bill. He had managed to raise the money to pay his N4000 bill which, unpaid till last weekend, translated to a weekend of no light as he was disconnected on Friday.

‘’ We know that some people are fighting the banks to stop them from high deductions being made these days, but we still have to use the banks for transactions that we cannot help but make,’’ he said. He revealed that while he was in the bank to pay the bill, he also seized the opportunity to withdraw a meager amount paid into his account by his cousin.

Indeed, in all the branches of various banks visited by TheNEWS today, it was business as usual. At The usually busy Zenith, UBA, and Guarantee Trust bank branches at Fagba, along Agege road from Ishaga, customers were busy making transactions.

And at Ojuelegba, down to the Masha area of Surulere in the heart of Lagos where TheNEWS also visited, nothing about the flow of customers into the banks suggested that the No Banking Day was being observed. From reports also gathered this afternoon from Ikorodu, transactions also went on without hitches at the banks.

This is contrary to the expectations of bank officials who assumed that they would have less transactions to handle today. Their fear, now somewhat allayed, was that the highly publicized protest would hold to emphasize the need for banks to stop the unpalatable deductions couched in sundry service charges to boost their earnings.

From what was witnessed today, the aim of those in the vanguard of the fight against high charges by banks may not have been fully realised, judging by the fact that customers did not really boycott banking activities in large numbers as expected.

A non-profit organisation, Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, CAFON, led by Sola Salako which is dedicated to advocacy for consumer rights and protection, is the leading force in the fight against the perceived exorbitant deductions by banks.

CAFON, in collaboration with the Coalition of Nigerian Consumer Protection Association, which have been carrying Nigerians along concerning the need to resist bank’s high charges, fixed Tuesday, 1 March 2016 as the day for a massive protest for the purpose.

Sola Salako

Sola Salako

However, for Salako, today’s level of compliance by customers has not been disappointing, considering the fact that a major awareness has been created which the banks can no longer take for granted. She claimed that at the banking halls she inspected around Ikeja and Ogba axis, customer traffic was lighter than usual.

As she put it: ‘’At different times during the day, I saw how banking activities were going on, and some banks have also confirmed that traffic flow was lower than normal. And even if it is only 10 per cent compliance, it’s alright,’’ she said.

While enthusing that customers have been sending twitter messages to ask for a No Banking Week or even a No Deposit week or a Withdrawal Only day, Salako also noted that all that all that has been achieved has been through public enlightenment in the conventional and social media only.

‘’We wrote to the Labour Union and they were excited about it, but they were more engaged with the electricity tariff issue. We would further contact them to so that there would be better impact next time,’’ she said.

Salako also said the claim by some bank customers that they were unaware of the campaign or today being the day of protest only suggests the need for the campaign to be intensified to create even more awareness towards galvanizing more customers to reject the prohibitive charges.

‘’For the bank customers who said they were not aware, we will take that as a lesson,’’ she said, insisting that the mission towards ensuring that the banks are made to review their charges downwards would be sustained.

Salako hopes the Central Bank of Nigeria would intervene by calling the banks to order. ‘’We have engaged Nigerian consumers who will not back down, and a town hall meeting will be held in the next one week involving consumers and regulators and we will continue from there,’’ she said.

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