An aged woman, about 70 years old with the aid of a walking stick, recently entered a banking hall in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. As she leaned against the wall, a young lady who accompanied her anxiously moved around the banking hall to get a seat for the aged woman who looked quite stressed up. It was later gathered that the woman, came for the bank verification as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. She was compelled to sit long hours to be verified and issued a number subject to confirmation thereafter, depending on success or otherwise of the exercise. One wonders how many times the old lady has to visit the bank before she obtains the all-important BVN to safeguard her age long earnings.
The big question however, is why women are always at the receiving end of any tight spot? Can’t they be given preferential treatment in such cases because they have other responsibilities on their shoulders?
Other women struggling to be verified even after several visits to the bank were nursing mothers, who gave their children breast milk in difficult situations, (a nursing mother in trying to calm her child who was wailing, breast fed and placed fingers of the other hand on the machine to be captured) there were also those with babies strapped to their back despite being pushed by other customers. Then there were young school girls who operated bank accounts for their school fees and other allowances, but had to forego their lessons and other school activities because of the exercise.
Nigerian Pilot Saturday went into town to feel the pulse of some women concerning the BVN and here’s what they said;
Mrs. Adegbite Adeolu, a business woman said she closed her shop for three days just to get the BVN done.
“I have not experienced this kind of stress in my entire life. I had to close my shop for three days before I could get captured but up till now I have not received the BVN, or number despite the fact that during the period, my business and family suffered because I had to leave the house in the morning only to come back in the evening when the bank closed. We automatically turned to bankers even though we were not their staff.
According to her, women were not even given any special treatment. She cautioned that CBN should be mindful of the fact that women have businesses, their homes and children to look after. She expressed disappointment at men’s lack of respectability in cooperating with women to enable them do their verification on time and go home to their families. She narrated an incident which led to a fight between a man and a woman.
“A woman who had been standing on the queue had pleaded with the person in front of her to preserve her space as she went off to pick her child from school. When she got back the person standing behind her, when she left briefly refused to allow her gain her position. He said she had to re-join the queue which had grown longer during her absence. It took the bank’s security personnel about 10 minutes to settle the matter,” Adeolu said.
Mrs. Maureen Okike, is a Sales executive. She said in her own case, she nearly lost her job during the BVN exercise.
“‘If not for God I for don lose my job’ she said in Pidgin English. “I spent four whole days going to the bank, while I was at the bank one of our clients who came to collect her goods did not meet me as I was not in the office so she called my boss to complain. My boss called my mobile phone but because the banking hall was noisy I did not hear my phone ring. He had to come all the way from Gwagwalada where he went for a meeting, to attend to the woman. He immediately asked the gate man to shut me out. It took the grace of God and my uncle who pleaded on my behalf to restore my job,” she lamented.
Okike further said. “To bank your money is not easy, withdrawing is another problem, now you have to deal with this BVN issue. With all the stress of banking you cannot easily get bank loan to start a business without them asking for huge collateral that someone cannot provide. If I have my way I will not put my money in the bank”.
Stating her experience, Hajia Memunatu Abdul Rasaq, spoke bitterly on how she spent days trying to get captured for her BVN in a bank, only to be rushed to the hospital due to her health condition.
“I was rushed to the hospital due to my ulcer because of the long queue. Though my ulcer had subsided for a long time, after staying in the bank a whole day without eating and because of the fear of not getting captured I refused to go and eat. And CBN had said that day was the last day and that if we didn’t get verified, we might lose our money. I was happy CBN extended the date it will enable people to do it with more ease,” she said.
For Mrs. Betty Okon, a banker, she had a word of advice for Nigerians. ‘Get your BVN done; it is for your own benefit”. She emphasised that the order is from the Central Bank of Nigeria, for safety of their money. She however expressed dismay at the way Nigerians take things for granted, saying they would not have gone through so much stress if they had adhered to the deadline issued by CBN earlier. “Nigerian are fond of doing things at the late hour as BVN was introduced since 14 February 2014, but most people did not bother about it until they heard of the closing date.
“It is not only the customers that have been going through stress, bank staff have not been finding it easy too, because of the massive crowd.”
In a bid to develop safe, reliable and efficient payment system in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, in conjunction with the Bankers’ Committee, undertook some major initiatives that prompted verification of all bank accounts- Bank Verification Number or BVN as commonly called.
According to Central Bank of Nigeria, BVN is to ensure that fraudulent transactions were minimised, if not totally eliminated and also to ensure unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian Banking Industry that is not peculiar to one Bank.
Other significant benefits are: Bank Accounts to be protected from unauthorised access; it will address issues of identity theft thus reducing exposure to fraud. BVN will enhance the Banking Industry’s chance of being able to fish out blacklisted customers and reduce queue in Banking Halls.

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