Osun microfinance banks’ officials flee as customers threaten protest
Many customers of microfinance banks operating in Osun State have threatened to storm the streets to protest their inability to withdraw money from their accounts.
In some of the microfinance banks visited in Osogbo by our correspondent on Wednesday, many officials of the banks, were not on seat, as many of the customers waited endlessly to withdraw from their accounts.
Some of the customers claimed to be salary earners, who get paid their monthly salaries through their accounts domiciled in the microfinance banks.
The customers while speaking to our correspondent during visits to Olubasiri Microfinance, Ibuaje Microfinance and Osogbo Microfinance Banks -all located within Osogbo metropolis- threatened to embark on protest if the situation persisted.
During separate interviews with our correspondent, Radeke Gbadamonsi and Rafat Adelu, who have accounts with a microfinance bank in Osogbo, said they could not withdraw from their accounts and called for immediate intervention by relevant authorities.
Gbadamonsi, an employee of an event centre in Osogbo, who said the money she wanted to withdraw was her January salary, further said, “I have been here since 9 am and they are yet to attend to me. They told me cash to give me was not available. Office hour is almost over. If this persists, it will lead to serious protests. Some of their officials were scared after some people threatened to attack them. They have sneaked out of the premises.”
In all the banks visited, a handful of the officials met refused to comment on the situation and referred our correspondent to the leadership of the National Association of Microfinance Banks in Osun state.
But an official of a microfinance bank in Osogbo, who spoke under condition of anonymity said the refusal of the Central Bank of Nigeria to include microfinance banks in its plan for the replacement of old naira notes with new ones was responsible for the collapse of operations of the banks.
He said, “In the last three weeks, commercial banks that are giving us money to run have stopped doing that. Each of us operators of microfinance banks has commercial banks working with us to ensure that we have smooth operations.
“But in the last three weeks, those commercial banks have not been giving us money. They told us that the CBN had directed them to stop giving us money. In Osun here, we have 22 microfinance banks and our officials met CBN officials in the Osogbo branch of the Apex Bank and they told us we can’t get money.
“They said we can only get money through some super PoS operators that they have assembled. Imagine licensed microfinance banks getting money through PoS operators that are not licensed or regulated by anyone. Many of our officials did not come to work to avoid being attacked by our customers. That is the situation we have found ourselves in.”
When contacted for a reaction, the chairman of the National Association of Microfinance Banks, Osun state chapter, Mr. Tunde Lawal, confirmed the collapse in operations of many of the banks which he blamed on a lack of cash to pay customers.
He however referred our correspondent to the national leadership of the group for further comment.
“It is true operations in most of our microfinance banks in Osun have collapsed over lack of cash to pay customers. But I will not want to comment further. You can contact our national body for more reaction,” Lawal said.