By Rasheed Bisiriyu
The Chairman of Kakanfo Inn and Conference Centre, Ibadan, Dr. Lekan Are, has said the October 31, 2015 deadline for bank customers to obtain the Bank Verification Number is not feasible.
He said only about 40 per cent of bank customers in Nigeria had so far been captured in the BVN registration, less than a month to the expiration of the deadline.
According to him, if the Central Bank of Nigeria must enforce the BVN, it should be a continuous or an open-ended registration.
He said the BVN was an unnecessary burden on individuals, firms and other entities operating bank accounts, and warned that it could create liquidity problems for the financial institutions.
Are spoke with our correspondent in Lagos on Monday.
The CBN has said there will be no further extension of the deadline. And by implication, any bank customer without the BVN after October 31, 2015 may not have free access to their bank account balance.
According to the CBN, with about 52 million active accounts in the various banks, only 14 million accounts have been linked to the BVN out of 20 million bank customers that had undertaken the registration as of September.
Are, a foremost agronomist, said people already had several means of identification, which could serve the purpose the BVN was meant to achieve.
“I believe there should be no Bank Verification Numbers for people because many already have national identity, driving licence, international passport, voter card, even some have ECOWAS card. If the idea is for the purpose of identity and to ascertain that the person who comes to the bank is the right person, there is no need for the BVN because all these listed items are enough to identify anybody,” he said.
He noted that the BVN policy was alien to global banking. For instance, in the United States, the most important thing to identify anybody in a bank is the driving licence, according to him.
He also faulted the argument that the policy would curb fraudulent activities by some bank customers.
Are said, “I was a bank director for 16 years. When there is going to be fraud in a bank, there must be an insider within the bank for the fraud to take place; like they say, it takes two to tango.
“In other words, it is a human element; they need to have enough control systems within the banking system to prevent bank workers from aiding and abetting frauds. The fact that people have the BVN does not mean that there will not be fraud. The bankers also steal our money.”
Are also urged the CBN to consider Nigerians in the Diaspora who would likely be shut out of the BVN registration due to the logistic problems involved in the exercise.
For instance, he said only three centres were opened in the United States, making it difficult for those far from the registration centres to take part in the exercise.
He also said the BVN would enable unauthorised groups and individuals to have access to other people’s accounts, which he described as a violation of the right to privacy.
Are added, “Nobody should have access to other people’s accounts. But with the BVN, several agencies will have access. The privacy is no longer there. They have no right.
“The BVN thing does not happen elsewhere. The process of opening a bank account here in Nigeria is long and cumbersome. You are given a long form to fill.”