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What Critics Of BVN Forgot To Tell Us - Business - Nairaland

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What Critics Of BVN Forgot To Tell Us by Greycells(m): 1:42pm On Nov 10, 2014
It is easy to understand the hostility of vested interests towards the introduction of Bank Verification Number exercise by the Central Bank of Nigeria. This is because those who insist on the truncation of the BVN belong to the opaque family of professional critics who would rather prefer that Nigeria remains a backward nation where nothing works. They would wish that the nation continues to wait for the conclusion of the snail-paced National Identity Management Commission-led registration, regardless of the cost to the development of the nation’s economy.

These persons are quick to educate us that the NIMC has the mandate to “establish, own, operate, maintain and manage Nigeria’s identity database.” But in their haste, they forgot to tell long-suffering Nigerians that the agency also has a mandate to harmonise and integrate existing identification databases in Nigeria. If this were to be their only act of amnesia, they could have been excused and directed to thoroughly study the NIMC Act again. But this will be a disservice to ordinary Nigerians who have suffered the consequences of being saddled with banking institutions that have failed them for too long.

It is unfortunate that the usual dilly-dallying, cronyism and corruption that have been the hallmarks of government-initiated projects like the NIMC continue to hold back the development of critical sectors of the economy like banking, health, education and law enforcement where proper identification of persons are key to success. Rather than vilify the apex bank for conceiving the BVN project and starting off its implementation, the critics should redirect their energies towards educating Nigerians on why the CBN should hasten to conclude the BVN exercise ahead of time as part of its Know Your Customer project.

For the benefit of those who may not know, the BVN is designed to give each bank customer a unique identity that can be used for easy identification and verification at the point of banking operations across the banking industry. The system will capture facials and the 10 fingerprints of each customer that completes the registration at bank branches. It will address issues of identity theft thereby reducing exposure to fraud. Most importantly, the customer’s unique BVN will be accepted as a means of identification in all banks. So, a person who has an account with Fidelity Bank, for instance, will not need to supply fresh details if he wishes to open another account in First Bank. By supplying his BVN to the new bank, access to his details with Fidelity will be granted from the CBN’s BVN repository.

Although the frenzied push for the integration of the global economy has cooled down somewhat, one wonders for how long the Nigerian economy will remain in the doldrums rather than take to the centre stage. For some time now, global investors have focused on the Nigerian economy as the next big thing. They are eager to invest in the country in spite of its many shortcomings. By the time these investors join the fray in full force, where will Nigerian businessmen and women be if they are unable to compete due to lack of access to funding from the banking sector? Or, should we be glad to see foreigners take charge of every aspect of business life while Nigerians are reduced to mere bystanders and sheer consumers?

Even if Nigerians will be spoilt for choice with an influx of an array of brands, how will they be able to purchase the goods on offer if banks cannot extend credit facilities to them? Would they be able to buy household goods on deferred payments like their counterparts elsewhere? All of this brings to mind the Latin question, “Cui bono?” which means “Who benefits?” Or, whose interests are served by maintaining the status quo? Also, who benefits in an environment where banks are confident to grant loans to customers knowing full well that the customer cannot disappear into thin air? Answers to these questions are obvious or aren’t they? Clearly, with BVN, access to mortgages on housing for instance will become easy for the average Nigerian. The last time I checked, it was a luxury reserved for the one per cent.

The growth of the Nigerian economy has been stunted for so long mainly because banking institutions lack the needed information to confidently grant loans to customers. If banks are to perform their duty of wealth creation in the Nigerian economy as it should be, the BVN should provide the foundations for the proper discharge of this duty. And in fairness to the CBN, having waited for the NIMC to get its acts together for so many years, Nigerians should applaud its decision to go ahead with the BVN.

The memory of past bank failures or near failures is still fresh in the minds of those who were affected. Many will still remember the shameful newspaper publication of names of some wealthy Nigerians who nearly bankrupted some banks before the CBN intervened. If the BVN had been established, such brigandage could have been prevented. Ironically, one of the implementing partners being vilified by the NIMC apologists is the key driver of the BVN project and similar initiatives by some states.

Methinks the NIMC should proceed with its registration and harmonise with other Federal Government agencies that have implemented or are in the process of implementing biometric registration of Nigerians. This, to my mind, is the sensible thing to do.

Okoya, Editor, Marketing Edge Magazine, wrote in from Lagos via okoyaade@yahoo.com
Re: What Critics Of BVN Forgot To Tell Us by somtookeke(m): 10:06am On Dec 15, 2019

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Re: What Critics Of BVN Forgot To Tell Us by ebenezary(m): 11:58am On Dec 15, 2019
This is deep
Re: What Critics Of BVN Forgot To Tell Us by Justix10: 12:30pm On Dec 15, 2019

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