Indeed, some Nigerian banks are manned by full grown tares. They’ve almost choked out the wheat. If that is the case all the banks, then, the country may be flailing right at the edge of the deadly precipice. The facts are mean and the statistics loom grotesquely like tragic integers of an economy in the chokehold of penury and devastation.
With their crass ineptitude and cavalier attitude, two Nigerian banks, Zenith and UBA, have morphed into cankerworms killing small businesses and compounding the plight of Nigerians who are currently battling the twin problems of fuel and new naira notes scarcity.
If Nigerians are groaning under this gruelling scarcity, it is multiple jeopardies for Zenith Bank and UBA Plc customers who are cliffhanging between life and death. Both banks seem to have connived to make life very unbearable for their customers.
Just last week, the video of a half-clad woman inside a bank branch went viral. She was bitterly lamenting her inability to withdraw money from her account, which had prevented her, she claimed, from feeding and sending her children to school. “Please, close my account; I am not using your bank again. My children cannot go to school. I am done with your bank,” she ranted in Yoruba.
Almost in tears, a retiree, who claimed to be 82 years old, stormed a UBA branch and spoke with palpable pains in a mixture of English and the Igbo Language; “I started banking with UBA in 1971. Now you people do not want to give me my money to eat. Pray that you get to my age.”
Reacting to the video, popular sports journalist, Godwin Enakhena, tweeted, “This is how far we’ve gone as a nation just to withdraw monies that we deposited in banks. I just had my share of the madness in our banks. I can’t withdraw from any ATM and can’t transfer money from my Zenith Bank account to another. Which way Nigeria?”
On a visit to the UBA branch at Ogunlana Drive, Surulere, Lagos, Joe Igbokwe, the spokesperson of the Lagos State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, lamented that he could not make a withdrawal. “I came to take money and they said they have not received (the) new money and they are not giving it out. I had to come here to verify all that I had been hearing. I noticed that nothing is going on here, no transaction. What is going on? This is complete sabotage. Few days to the presidential election, who is doing this to Nigerians? Was this (the new policy) not planned well?”
Igbokwe, who currently serves as Special Adviser for Drainage & Water Resources to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said further, “Those in charge must as a matter of urgency do the needful. Why are big banks Zenith, UBA and others not getting money when Jaiz Bank with few branches in Nigeria has money? This is complete sabotage and I cannot take it. If gold rusts, what will iron do?”
Similarly, Sam Hart, the Director-General, Abia State Marketing and Quality Management Agency, posted this on his Twitter account, “Dear everybody at Zenith Bank, what is going on upstairs? The number of negative reviews I have seen in recent times is alarming and they can’t all be wrong. I am a long-standing customer & also a shareholder of this bank so I demand that you all get your acts together pronto!
“I know a few people following me have direct access to Jim Ovia and the brass. Kindly do us all a favour and tell them that the street is not happy with them at the moment. And no, not the industry-wide challenges. These complaints are peculiar to Zenith Bank.” Ovia is the founder and chairman of Zenith Bank.
On the streets, it is one tale of woe or the other. The mobile apps of the banks are not opening. Where they open, transactions are not completed successfully in real-time. Sometimes, accounts are debited, but money never gets to its destination until many days after, thus, crippling many Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs.
Many such businesses have had to stop operations until the situation normalises. Tunde Wearitall, a popular clothier, posted a screenshot of a failed transaction on his Zenith Bank app with the caption; “The worst bank ever (is) Zenith Bank Plc.”
The hardship is even more punishing for those who actively use the SMS-based mobile banking services of Zenith (*966#) and UBA (*919#). Active customers are brazenly told that their numbers are not associated with the service! Tragic irony! “Zenith bank is the most useless bank in this country.
The painful part is the unceasing reoccurrence of the problem. The app wouldn’t open, USSD wouldn’t work and the card will be declining,” wrote Piroll, a Twitterati.
Despite these harrowing experiences, both UBA and Zenith Bank managements have maintained aloof, cavalier posturing. This has made customers resort to self-help by breaking down gates and barriers and forcing their way into banking halls. As the crisis heightened last week, irate customers stoned and broke the glass coverings of a UBA branch in Lagos.
Videos of such breakdowns are all over social media. Still, their mission is never accomplished as the bank staff maintains that there is no money.
Indeed, it is now easier for a man to get into the Kingdom of Heaven than it is to do a bank transaction with UBA and Zenith Bank.