By Adetokunbo Abiola
Bolanle Agabi sits behind her POS stand along Oda Road in Akure. It was sometime in December before the New Year break when people enjoying the Christmas festivities were instead of charging one hundred naira for a one thousand naira withdrawal, Bolanle charged two hundred naira.
Asaju Obe stayed inside her POS stand, along Oba Adesida Road in Akure. It was also before the Christmas break. It before the fuel crisis, before the currency change wahala, when people expected sympathy from POS operators, to charge one hundred naira for a one thousand naira withdrawal, when people expected them to understand because everyone had to understand that people had spent their money on the Christmas and New Year festivities. Asaju charged two hundred naira per one thousand naira withdrawal, her body language says, “Take it or leave it.”
Paul Olube placed his stand in front of First Bank at Alagbaka. He wore frowns. He wore frowns while scrutinizing his customers the way a predator scrutinizes a prey. It was sometime before the fuel hike and Naira notes scarcity. Paul charged three hundred naira per one thousand naira withdrawal from a personal account.
The exorbitant charges of POS operators for withdrawals from personal bank accounts didn’t start with the recent ordeal of naira change and fuel hike. It took place before Christmas, when POS operators along Oda and Oba Adesida Roads saw customers as prey, when they saw depositors as disposable commodities to be hoodwinked, cheated and exploited. It is therefore not surprising that now at this period of naira change and fuel hike, they’ve turned monsters. They disregard their customers, charging them at thousands of naira over simple operations, meaning POS operators want to enjoy ten percent of your money, meaning people who were not a party to your success want to take a huge chunk of it. It mean you should be exploited, pushed against the wall, made to feel like you’re a beggar.
This is a crazy country. Everyone expects to take ten percent of your earnings. The bishop expects to take ten percent of your money, forgetting that you have a wife at home. The reverend wants to grab ten percent of your money, forgetting you have a wife at home, forgetting that you have children to feed, forgetting you need to pay school fees, forgetting you need to pay for transport fare, forgetting you need to pay for house rent and BEDC bills and pay tax and many other things.
Go to the people who change dollars to naira, it is the same mentality. The Aboki feels he is entitled to ten percent of your money. Because of the same mentality, he would hoodwink you, he would lie, he would con you. He would twist facts just to get a huge share of your sweat, just to get more than his fair share, just to take your pound of flesh.
The same entitlement mentality resides everywhere you find yourself. Friends want to take ten percent of your money. Distant relatives want to take ten percent of your salary, seeing it as their entitlement. People greeting you on the streets want to take your money, simply for bowing down for you, or cleaning your shoes, or giving you a ride, or stopping for you to pass. Everywhere you go, so many people want to take your ten percent.
It is therefore not surprising that so many POS operators want to take ten percent of your money. It is not surprising that they want this, seeing distant relatives have the same mentality, seeing that the Aboki who changes dollars for you thinks the same way, seeing that the reverend or imam or native doctor see it as their right to take your pound of flesh for services not given.
Unfortunately, the repercussions of this entitlement mentality has deeper consequences. If POS operators continue to get away with the present-day robbery, depositors will never get out of this trap of rampant and merciless exploitation. They would continue to be at the mercies of bankers and POS operators and other sharks who prowl areas where law-abiding people can get money to manage their live at this period of economic tribulations.
If POS operators continue getting away with the present extortion, the entire process of getting your money in the future will be compromised. It would be destroyed, along with the trust the common man has in the banking and financial sector, especially when bankers collude with other operators in the sector
If POS operators continue getting away with the present daily robbery, people in the other sectors would get infected with this entitlement mentality, with this thirst for getting ten percent of your money, with this idea that anything goes in this country, and that one should manipulate the system at any opportunity.
With time, this manipulated system where bankers collude with sharp operators in the financial sector will result in the process of getting your money to be compromised irredeemably, with POS operators continuing to get away with the present extortion.
For changes to take place, the entire POS sector should be reorganized. For other changes, the ten percent entitlement mentality syndrome should be jettisoned and abandoned.
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