The effort of the Central Bank of Nigeria [CBN] to drive and deepen financial inclusion strategy, provide easy access to credit, reduce the unemployment rate in the rural areas and reduce rural-urban migration, motivated the apex bank to launch the National MFB known as NIRSA MFB. But six months after, the MFB is yet to take off in Lagos.
NIRSA MFB was set up with the corporation of Bankers’ Committee and the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST). But six months after launch, the Lagos branch of the bank has not issued loan facility to any customer because the MFB hasn’t opened its doors to customers.
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Financial Technology Africa paid a visit to the Ikeja office of the Nigerian Postal Service where NIRSA has a branch for enquiries.
Aside the NIRSA signpost mounted at a vantage point for easy identification, there was no other sign that depicted business activities.
In the main hall, the rowdy scene was of NIPOST customers who were there to send and receive consignments.
On a closer examination of the partitioned and glass, tinted section of the hall, it is difficult to decipher that behind the glass curtain-wall was unarranged office furniture and cabinets.
One of the NIPOST employees who sat close to the entrance of NIRSA was not a good mood to answer my questions. She was not interested in anything outside her purview.
Another fair employee who chose to remain anonymous, however, volunteered to answer my questions. “You see, I don’t know when they [NIRSA] will commence operations, but I know that this is their office and where they want to use for their operations when they start”, she said.
She would not say more than that and to sieve more facts, I approached another staff and the following conversation ensued between us.
“Good afternoon, sir.”
“Good afternoon my brother, how can I help you?”
“I want to open an account with the NIRSA Microfinance bank. How can I go about it?
Pointing at the entrance of the bank, he said:
“That is their office but they have not opened for business and I do not know when they will start their business”.
The former anonymous woman directed me to meet another man. I obeyed.
“Ahh!” the man exclaimed after I have introduced myself.
“We don’t know when they will commence operations, but they have brought what they want to use for the operations.
“But we don’t know what is delaying them.
“Do you need employment with the bank or what?
“No, sir”, I answered.
“Because if you want to get a job here, you need to know someone that can recommend you before you could get a job,” he confided in me.
On the NIRSA website – www.nmfb.com.ng I got the customer service centre number and dialed the number.
The voice that answered identified her as Temitope. She declined to give her surname. She told me that the bank’s policy frown on employees of the bank giving their surname to an unknown entity.
She told me that NIRSA has not commenced operations in Lagos.
“We would start Lagos office before the end of the year, but we have started operations in Ibadan, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Bauchi, Kaduna, and Lokoja,” she told me
Temitope explained that anyone in Lagos who desires to open an account should visit the bank’s office in Ibadan, as that is the “closest place” to Lagos.
To open an account, Temitope said the regular KYC is required, namely, utility bill, valid means of identification, and a passport photograph and N2, 000 deposit.
“To open a corporate account, you need N5, 000 for cooperative societies or associations”, she explained, and added that after opening an account in the first six months, customers will then be eligible to access the loans and pay back 5% of the loan annually.
Temitope could not say if NIRSA would open branches in each of the NIPOST locations across Nigeria, but stated that if anyone desires to open an account with NIRSA in states where NIRSA is not located, “They have to come to our branch in the state capital. Our bank’s offices will only be located in general post offices of the Nigerian Postal Service (NPS)”, she said.