During my first few days of In Country Training we were advised by VSOs Big Man on how to open a bank account so we can be paid our allowance. At this point the new volunteers had no idea how difficult this would be.
You will be proud to know that I am actually the only VSO I know of in Nigeria that has managed to open an account, and it was pretty easy too!
Cutting a very long story (of 4 visits and several text messages from the bank manager) short I now have, not only a bank account, but also a chip and pin :0)
I have highlighted 4 points to give you a sense of UBA
• I have no idea why I find it so difficult but I always have trouble entering the bank. Only one person is allowed to enter or leave the bank at a time and for a few moments you are enclosed in a capsule and you have to surrender your phone above your head! I somehow manage to always step in wrongly and delay the procedure. I have discovered it is best to leave your bag (including phone and purse) in the car.
• The most shocking part was that, on my 4th visit, as soon as I had collected my debit card from one assistant and my pin number from a another, the banks guard (who is now my friend, Harry) took them both from me and proceeded out through the door first, leaving me inside, while he was outside with my card and pin number!!! This would never happen in England. When I joined him outside he then took me to the ATM and showed me how to use it step by step! I think he thought that because I always have trouble getting through the electronic door that I also needed help with withdrawing cash!
• There was no sense of order. I handed over passport photos on the first visit and then on the second, when they were needed, Jayne, the assistant emptied an A4 brown envelope of small passport photos onto the desk and proceeded to sift through them until she found mine. Also 2 huge piles of pin numbers were flicked through until my name was found! Ever heard of alphabetical order?
• My last highlight is that my colleague, whom I had never been to the bank with, was told on his visit to the bank that my debit card was ready to pick up! I have no idea how they know we work together. Also another time, when I was in Abuja, a text said ‘when you are back in Jigawa. . . !‘ How did they even know I had left Jigawa? Now I realise that I am living in a small town!
VSO office and other volunteers are all amazed that I have managed to open a bank account. Temporary visas and photocopies of passports were not accepted by the bank managers in their towns. I feel honoured to be accepted here in Dutse.