Naira re-design: GTBANK charges customers for withdrawal of new notes
Even when they are coy to admit it, truth is a casualty in the business parlance of Nigerian banks.
However, if truly a bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain, then, GTBank might be getting drenched in torrential doses of the proverbial bank’s poison. The sweet simplicity of the steep per cents has deserted the bank like a spent era of prosperity and pliant luck.
The leading new-generation bank is currently being garrotted by angry Nigerians that are unable to access cash due to the naira re-design policy of the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN. You would recall that the apex bank had initially set January 31 as the deadline for Nigerians to deposit their old naira notes in their various banks declaring without equivocation that the policy had come to stay.
As with everything about Nigeria, there is pervasive panic in the system as the average Nigerian cannot access cash whether in the bank, ATMs, or POS.
Incidentally, the new notes are not available while the old ones are being rejected.
Even after Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, announced a 10-day extension of the deadline, there is still an acute shortage of cash as the new notes are not in circulation. Worse still, ATMs are not dispensing and where they do, it is a mix of the old and new notes. In other parts of the country, the queues, struggles, and fights to access ATMs are numbing and perplexing.
A cross-section of Nigerians banking with GTB alleges that it is selfishly exploiting the situation with the insistence of its staff to charge money on every new notes withdrawal.
A public affairs analyst who experienced this harsh reality wrote on Facebook, “So, early this morning, I walked into GTBank Ogba branch to collect shikini money. It got to my turn and lo and behold, the bank staff, a young lady, had the guts to tell me boldly that, for the 20k withdrawal, I’ll have to fork out a whopping 2k. Not as bank charges o, but as a ‘tip.’ If my calculation is correct, that translates to 100 naira for every 1k. Tip kee you dia, I yelled at her. You guys are just bloody thieves.” The bandit simply smiled and said, “next customer please.” That was the third bank I had gone with none of the ATMs dispensing neither the old or new currency notes. How could you be making money from people’s miseries and yet feel cool about it?”
The post opened a flurry of comments with many responders sharing their own varied experiences in the bank’s other branches.
The bank was also variously described as having the most callous and insensitive set of staff in the financial industry as every responder to the post seemed to have experienced the same or worse since the policy took effect. While the post has since gone viral, the bank has yet to respond.
However, it is often said that there is no animal in the world, other than the gentle human, who is so dominated that when asked to labour while hungry for even the smallest amount of food that is poor in nutrition, they do it gladly.
And that, perhaps, sums up the situation of the security guards at GT bank branches. Hungry and broke, they seek food unabashedly and with a predatory instinct. At one of the Ikeja branches of GT Bank, the situation is even worse as the security guards are lords unto themselves this trying period.
According to a customer who gave her name simply as Omolola, she had strolled into the branch to withdraw from the ATM when one of the guards walked up to her, offering to help her operate the machine. Embarrassed, Omolola said she politely turned down the offer. When she was about to leave, she claimed that she was accosted by another security guard who pointedly told her to “drop something for the boys” from the money she had just withdrawn. Even more embarrassed at this point, Omolola said that she told him with a disarming smile that she had come to empty the peanut in her account but that did not work.
“The guards had padlocked the gate and insisted that I had to part with ‘something’ although in a friendly tone. The one that had earlier offered to assist with the withdrawal said I should not call N15, 000 a peanut. I was enraged,” she recalled. According to her, she attempted to educate the security guard that he had breached her rights to a private transaction by revealing how much she withdrew. Omolola said she probably was allowed to leave the premises after they noticed that her voice had risen and she was speaking in legalese; “E be like say she be lawyer sef. Carry your wahala dey go,” the second security guard said in vernacular, according to Omolola. After TheCapital investigation, we discovered that a lot of customers were victims of this unholy act.
That scenario, other respondents have told this medium, is what plays out in many banks in Ikeja; the likes of UBA, Fidelity Bank and Access. No less, first-generation Wema bank branches where customers have complained about their security guards being overly beggarly and unprofessional. An insurance executive who preferred not to be named explained how she had gone to the Town Planning Way, Ilupeju branch of Wema Bank to make a withdrawal and was scared shitless by her experience.
As she made to drive out of the parking lot, she said that a security guard came to her side, tapped on the window and reminded her that they were the ones watching over her car. “He didn’t stop there,” she recalled, adding, “hethen said that it would be wicked of me to leave without tipping them. I was shocked, of course, but I gave him N500. I don’t know what gave him the boldness to talk that way. But I quickly reflected that these people could arrange with outsiders to rob me on my way. I plan to register my displeasure with the bank.”
Indeed, no Nigerian bank, customers allege, is immune from this untoward trend which they concur is borne out of the pocket-money wages they receive. “These are grown men and women with families and they earn what I’d give my kid for tidying their bedroom,” she said. She implored bank CEOs to look into the situation before it turned ugly saying, “At the rate these guys are going, they might be the ones with guns robbing people openly at the ATMs.”
Another respondent posited that the banks should not be blamed for this unwholesome practice as many of them sub-let their security operations to private security outfits and as such, might be oblivious to how bad the situation had degenerated at their gates.