Dr Olusuyi Adaramewa
Sir: Globally, banks occupy a prime place in the annals of commerce and business. In some jurisdictions, they are nicknamed builders or wealth makers. In addition, through their positive and aggressive interventionism, they can transform the fortune of a penniless being into that of a billionaire: not thanks to the fact that the client displays a purely financial idea, despite the lack of financial strength or resources. Therefore, whether or not it is consistent with the saying of the sages that: "ideas rule the world".
See the advantages that COVID-19 conferred to e-commerce or online businesses. Look at the fortunes that the pandemic has unleashed, or better yet, imposed pharmaceuticals, food vendors, dressmakers and confectioners. This is expected to deepen the fraternity between banks and their customers in this market segment.
On the other hand, imagine the traumatic pains that the pandemic caused in some businesses, such as music, entertainment, hospitality, tourism, airlines and others. In fact, according to Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika, the "aviation sector alone, is losing about $ 21 billion a month since the COVID-19 outbreak in the country".
That is why it is necessary to empathize with Nigerian banks due to the fact that they face many challenges and have not been able to fully meet the demands of their customers since the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19. With the blockade, ATMs became the darling of those who wished to withdraw money. Customers had no choice but to remain tenaciously in this environment. In addition, it is also necessary to praise the efforts of the Mobile Money Agents / Operators and of some traders who activated and instilled life in their hitherto dying PoS / money-back operations as real tools for withdrawing money.
Consistent with good corporate governance, coupled with the social responsibility of Nigerian banks, they responded quickly to the call for clarification to lift the country out of the pain of the pandemic. It is noted that the banking community was one of the leaders of the private sector initiative via CA-COVID to complement the efforts of the federal and state governments to revive Nigerian citizens from the burden of the pandemic. Under the leadership of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, bankers and other interested parties were able to set up an isolation center in Lagos, and more were expected across the country. There is an ongoing food program for some of the less privileged and vulnerable Nigerians.
On the other hand, if care is not taken, all the gains from these laudable efforts can be wasted unless banks are aware of the need to respond quickly to the plight of their many stakeholders. If decisive action is not taken by banks to close the gap between bank corridors and their customers, the banking sector will be indirectly responsible for fanning the embers of the exponential increase in the pandemic. It is disheartening to see that most ATMs do not have hand sanitizers, nor do they have security officers to enforce social or physical distance and the rest.
The banking sector must embark on some devolution of power to its TRUSTED mobile money agents nationwide to handle and process some basic banking activities, such as inquiries, complaints, etc., which can keep hundreds of customers out of the banking corridors. The telecommunications industry has absorbed this culture and the success story is there for everyone to see: its agents now register SIM cards, among other ancillary services.
It is appropriate to commend the Bankers Committee's bold steps to nip the black cloud of unemployment that was already hovering over bank officials' heads, despite its innocence in the emergence of COVID-19 in Nigeria. In addition to sending the wrong signals to the whole world in general and to the Nigerian state in particular, the massive reduction would give other employers the strength to enter into this hassle. This would have been incongruous with the nation's climate at that time. In other words, it would have raised serious doubts about the realism of any affection in the interactions between banks and declared interested parties.