I read about the news on the 22nd of October 2017 of the Federal High Court ordering the CBN and the 19 Commercials Banks to freeze accounts without BVN. In as much as I do not like making comments of certain Government policies and directives, I actually do think that this particular order could have been better handled.
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I remember vividly the destabilization that came with the introduction of BVN (Bank Verification Number) The horrible experience by most banks and customers alike could have been averted or better implemented if the right decisions were made. The public was not adequately informed or sensitized about the activity, many bank staff were not even properly trained for the exercise and as a result, could not communicate the right information across to customers. Many bank customers understood it as them being required to register their BVN with all their banks. The system then, didn’t even have a way of detecting a customer who had registered before, and so many other issues. Till this very moment, many customers and banks are yet to get over the problems surrounding BVN. A good number of bank customers are still unable to access their accounts even after the registering their BVN. We discover that the banks most times got their information wrong at the point of registration; either as a result of wrongly spelt names or wrongly arranged names or even Date of Birth and many other information. These have prevented customers from accessing their accounts or even opening new ones. Unfortunately, the process of correcting these errors are and have remained cumbersome. It entails getting a court affidavit, submitting a valid means of identification and in some cases, getting a newspaper publication of name change.
Many Nigerians in diaspora are yet to register their BVN due to one reason or the other. Others that are registered still have their accounts on PND (Post No Debit) and are unable to make withdrawals because of the aforementioned issues. Yet, the Government has ordered a freeze on these accounts. I do understand that all these are attempts towards cubing financial crimes in the system and better secure the public of their information but I still believe that there are smarter ways of achieving this without putting the public through so much stress.
The Government should think of better ways of correcting the already existing challenges being encountered by the already registered individuals. By so doing, the order to freeze accounts without BVN could be better justified. More so, Nigerians in diaspora should also be given simpler options for registering their BVN especially in this era of technological advancements; creating a means to allow for people to register themselves online would be a more effective way of achieving this aim.