On 25th of January 2011, I came across a Press Release on Page 27 of the Monday, January 24 2011 edition of THISDAY Newspaper. The advert was from the Committee of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria (CCCOBIN) titled UPDATE OF BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION.
The Press Release was in apparent support of the Central Bank of Nigeria Directive directing all bank customers to update their bank accounts’ information on or before January 31, 2011 without failure. The CCCOBIN urged all Nigerians to support the exercise, warning that “the CBN has directed that operations on the accounts of customers who fail to update their information would be suspended”.
I went to to the website of CCCOBIN as given on the Press Release www.cccobin.org and tried to get a contact detail for them in order to register my protest at the lack of consideration given to the millions of Nigerians who live outside Nigeria and who have accounts with banks in Nigeria. The email address given in the website is email@example.com , so I sent my protest to this address.
Wonders of wonders, the email bounced back. I had urged over 2000 people on my Contact list to register their protest to this email address, and many of then responded to tell me their messages bounced back undeliverable.
When are we ever going to learn to do things the way they should be done, for crying out loud?
How can we get the CBN and Governor Lamido Sanusi, who has just been conferred, and deservedly too, the Man of the Year Award in Nigeria for 2010, to listen to Nigerians abroad, and review this directive to at least ease the concerns of these set of Nigerians?
Below is my message sent to CCCOBIN and just a few of the many responses I received.
I have no exception to your support for the CBN Directive regarding the update on bank information of their customer. In fact I applaud this directive.
However, the CBN, and with your support have fallen victim of the so called "Nigerian Factor", the usual "fire-brigade approach" to very serious matters, and a deficiency of thoughtfulness and lack of concern for the society at large.
It does not matter that the date for the update has been extended to 31 January 2011, but the fact that in proposing this exercise, careful thought has not been considered for the millions of Nigerians living outside the country and who have at one time or the other opened all kinds of accounts in all the banks operating in Nigeria. And this even includes those with Domiciliary Accounts with foreign currency in them.
Obviously, the Central Bank of Nigeria has not thought of the inconvenience and impracticality that this will cause to these millions of Nigerians. Throughout this exercise, not once have I heard or read of the CBN's consideration for these set of Nigerians
Is the CBN and yourselves saying that these millions of Nigerians should come to Nigeria simply and only because of updating their account details with their banks, while spending hundreds of dollars, pounds, etc. just to come and participate in this exercise, so that they will be able to operate their accounts?
Are you now saying that failure of these Nigerians to come to Nigeria to update their accounts will result in the suspension of their accounts with considerable sums of Naira in such accounts?
If this is so, all the banks in Nigeria will have a fight on their hands as you cannot legally bar these Nigerians from operating their accounts.
I submit that whenever such matters of national interest are considered, due consideration MUST be given to the millions of Nigerians, who are living abroad and still have a stake in the well-being, economic development and socio-political issues of this country.
Nigerians are not living in isolation. Nigerians are no longer confined within the boundaries of the entity called Nigeria - we must have a voice.
Nigerians living outside the country have not voting rights; and the CBN wants to deny us access to the millions, if not billions of money we despatch home everyday.
I would therefore call on the Central Bank of Nigeria and you, the Committee of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria (CCCOBIN) to do a rethink on this issue and come up with a satisfactory solution to this problem. Nothing is written in stone and we do not have to re-invent the wheel. This exercise could have been thought of and implemented in an entirely different manner that will eliminate concerns and inconvenience not only to those Nigerians in Nigeria, but also to those scattered all over the world.
This message has been Bcc'd to over 2000 contacts who will perhaps be getting in touch with you to protest
Akintokunbo A Adejumo
Responses from Concerned Nigerians, Home and Abroad.
I am in support of this memo 110%. Please let me know what others in Diaspora want to do, if consideration is not given to us. If not for committed citizens like you, most of us are not even aware of such exercise.
Thanks for your commitment to make Nigeria a better country to call home.
Mojisola Ogunsina Odegbami
United States of America
Good cause, valid points.
For those of us living in Nigeria, it has not been bed of roses either. You can hear of Banks telling us that the address on NEPA bill is not in tandem with the address quoted on the form or that ONLY driving license, National Passport or National I.D is recognized for this exercise. Must all of us know how to drive, carry a national passport with all its attendant hiccup at securing or a National ID exercise that was not concluded and making millions of us not possessing the card?. I am still waiting for my account to be suspended and you can be sure that a lot of litigations will have to follow.
I just hope that sense of reason will prevail and things will be done normally.
That's why NEPA, NITEL, WATER WORKS or so are NOT working.
I support CBN but they must give Nigerians living abroad time to get complete the exercise.
CBN, Please, Consider us and give us more time.
Announce it on CNN, SKY, Fox News and other suitable networks to reach millions of Nigerians.
I consider the CBN directive (account updates) an ill advised policy especially for us living overseas. How could you/CBN give a deadline, when most of Nigerians in Diaspora have not even hear about the on going process. I do not hesitate in asking you/CBN to come up with proper arrangements that will take into account those of us living overseas or maintain the status quo for us in Diaspora.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
Hello Mr Adejumo
Thanks for this very important message which you have sent to these people
Do you think they don't know what they are doing? In actual fact, they know quite vividly that Nigerians who live abroad account for the biggest percentage of savings/investments in Nigeria. The investments have been rising from one year to the next for the past decade or two. It is quite obvious they are very much up to a trick! That indeed is my opinion. If they are not, tell me what they may do with billions of hard earned money of Nigerian who live and work abroad after the deadline of 31st January.
Quite rightly, you have made it clear to them that this set of people will not just keep quiet and watch them take away what is not theirs. Even if people want to travel out to Nigeria for this reason, the timing may be another factor. In my case, I may not be able to take time off work until after June. Are they saying I will forfeit my money?
They surely need to think again.
Best wishes, Mr Adejumo
This is very thoughtful of you on behalf of Nigerians in Diaspora. In the very essence every body has at one time or the other provided these banks resident addresses overseas and the know this. Nigeria thinking is always very short-sighted and I wonder if Nigerians in Diaspora are no longer Nigerians? Last year Nigeria in Diaspora remitted legitimate over USD10B. Does this not make them think how to maximise the potential of this group of people when the reverse is the case for those inside the country?
To even think of it the banks have not written anybody in this regard instead one have to contact them for situation update as if their service is a privilege.
Thank you very much
To add to what Mr. Adejumo has written here. Some of us in diaspora have been trying to get in touch with our various banks for more information on the on-going exercise.
All to no avail, this so saddening, and so discouraging when we contribute so much to the Nation's economy. Kindly help us look into this, as this is a serious cause for concern.
In fact when I opened my accounts, one in 2003/4, a couple of others in 2006/7, these Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements were in place (definitely 2006/7) and I complied with them at the time. Why do we have to go through this process again? I really struggle to see the reason for this messing about!!!
The Trumpet Newspaper, UK