Despite her booming economy which is heavily dependent on Agribusiness, the biggest town in the Afijio Local Government Area of Oyo State known as Ilora is still without a single commercial bank. Sadly, the first commercial bank in the community known as African International Bank had been forced to round down by a twice successive, bloody robbery incident.
A passerby who claimed anonymity said he was an SS2 student of the Ilora Baptist Grammar School, a public school opposite the bank when the last robbery attack on the bank happened.
He said, “It was during the break time, we were playing on the field, then, the gunshots’ echos that traveled down our earlobes dispersed us. They would have wasted us but they considered us young that was why they only shot intermittently in the thin air to scare us.”
He added that being a group of boys on the field, they were able to maneuver a bit and valiantly rain stones on the thieves from afar but get dodged. He learned that security guards were killed.
According to one of the bank’s staff who wants his name to be withheld, there was a controversy between the directors before the robbery attack.
He narrated, “There was a misunderstanding between the directors before the last robbery attack. It was the armed robbers that scattered us. I was an ordinary staff member of the bank, then. After the incident, the management promised to give us our salary but we haven’t been paid.”
Finding reveals that the Central Bank of Nigeria had revoked the license of the bank’s branches making them cease to operate on September 2, 2013.
Raji Abdulrasheed, a small-scale business owner who sells Jersey wears although he has a personal motorcycle, laments the amount of stress he goes through.
“Whenever I need just N1000.00 cash or any amount above that from my account, or there is a network glitch during the online transfer on my mobile phone, I will have to dash to the neighboring town (Oyo) to withdraw.
“It is a disfiguration for this town to have just one ATM stand despite its gigantism. It is embarrassing. Even some smaller communities around have banks there” he said.
For Abdul-Lateef Olayemi, who does printing for a living, whenever he wants to deposit money or withdraw money his customers send him for the jobs, he has to set out for United Bank for Africa (UBA) branch in Oyo town being the bank he uses.
“If it is Okada I want to take there, I must prepare N400.00, for to and fro. This lingering problem is tiring. It is affecting us a lot. The amount we do spend on transport and the stress would not have been there” he lamented.
Lateef also claimed to know of a farmer who was robbed of the proceeds he got from crop harvest by a gang of robbers because he kept the money at home. “If a bank is available will he not save the money immediately?” He queried.
However, some of the people who could not afford the stress of going to a neighboring town have taken to the Points of sale (POS) system as an alternative, though they are not comfortable with the amount charged per transaction.
People queue to withdraw at Access Bank in Oyo, miles away from their community. PC: Jimoh Abdul
An Oyo State-based financial expert, Mr. Adelere Victor said that before a bank branch is sited in a particular area, the level of safety of the environment based on CBN policy has to be considered.
“For security reasons, CBN normally approves before any branch is sited. So they normally do a survey and if the branch is not safe, there won’t be up to 2 or 3 banks within the area to cover based on the population” he said.
He moreover noted that some of those places without banks may not pull the kind of volume that can make Banks locate themselves there in terms of population and economy.
The Chairman of the Ilora Development Association Mr. Kayode Adio, while responding said that they have been working underneath on the lingering problem but it has not yet yielded a positive result.
“The issue of not having a commercial bank in the town is worrisome. We have contacted several people and banks like Zenith bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) most importantly, Ecobank that took over AIB but nothing yielded any results.”
He also stated that the community is ready to welcome any bank that may come to their rescue as a small piece of land has been prepared.