Sympathisers of procrastination often advance funny defence for their attitude as ‘it doesn’t matter when a task gets done, so long as it’s eventually accomplished.’
Their attitude may also be as a result of ‘rebellion’ against authority or an institution that they feel is making an unreasonable demand or coercing them into performing a task.
Description above fits exactly the attitude of Nigerians to many of the noble programmes of government. Going back in history, Nigerians’ last minute rush in accomplishing or keying into any project initiated by government or an organ of government for their well-being did not start with the Biometric Verification Number (BVN) initiated early last year by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Bankers’ Committee, as the attitude of Nigerians has made government on several occasions bend backward in frustration to suit their whims so as not to allow such projects or programmes fail.
Classical examples abound and one could recollect Nigerians’ attitude to issues of National Census Programme registration; the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) voters’ card; the National Identity Card project by the National Identity Management Commission, and now the BVN.
Prior to the last general elections, the government was practically begging Nigerians to go and register essentially for their constitutional civic right and responsibility to vote for their preferred candidates in the general elections. This was the only way to avoid the usual complain of short-changed to ensure that an unpopular candidate other than the preferred choice does not emerge winner. The deadline by INEC was on a number of occasions shifted to get an appreciable number of Nigerians registered to have credible and fair elections.
The procrastination bug has equally caught up with the CBN/Bankers’ Committee’s BVN project. The BVN project was initiated and launched by the Bankers’ Committee in conjunction with the CBN on 14 February, 2014 with a deadline of 30 June, 2015.
But as characteristic of Nigerians, they have been displaying their lackadaisical attitude and waiting till the dying minutes to rush to their banks with the resultant commotion.
As stipulated, one of the milestones of the BVN was that by 30 June, 2015, all Deposit Money Banks (DMB) customers should have BVN registration, and any bank customer without the BVN linked to his account would be deemed to have inadequate requirement with respect to the Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines.
As a centralised biometric identification system for the Nigerian banking industry, it is to ostensibly give a unique identity that is verifiable across the Nigerian banking system which is not peculiar to a particular bank, thus customers bank accounts are protected against unauthorised access.
The apparent lukewarm attitude to this noble course aimed at addressing issues of theft and to reduce exposure to fraud remains rather baffling. It is also to fish out those chronic and blacklisted customers, reducing long queue in the banking halls and enhance efficiency in banking operations.
It is thus surprising that Nigerians with knowledge of these inherent benefits have not responded as expected. This made the CBN and the Bankers’ Committee to graciously extend the deadline to 31 October, 2015. The extension seems not to be having much impact. Typical of Nigeria banking customers, particularly the elite they are waiting for the last week or the last day of the expiration to besiege their banks for the exercise, the key to their accounts.
There is no doubt that such ugly incidence of commotion and harassment of bank officials which was witnessed prior to the 31 October extension may resurface. However, shock awaits them as there would be no further extension as reiterated by the Bankers’ Committee.
The issue then remains, why do we always wait till the eleventh hour to do things? This attitude is not only to government programmes, but even in our domestic or personal affairs.
The CBN’s bid to make access to banking facilities easy and all inclusive, is being frustrated by the attitude of Nigerians as if what the BVN entails is a task too arduous to accomplish. 31 October is some few days away and millions of Nigerian bank account owners are yet to register with their banks for the BVN, in spite of enlightenment programmes, newspapers and radio/television advertisements by the Central Bank of Nigeria. They are waiting to register by the 99th hour. Why are we like this?
Nigerians need a change of attitude, and now is the right time to do things and have respect for our institutions. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.