NPF MICROFINANCE BANK ABUJA IS A HUGE DISAPPOINTMENT
By Moses Yohana
When the Nigeria Police Force Micro Finance Bank got its operating license validated as a full fledged micro finance bank sometime ago, many of us heaved a sign of relief. As one of the leading Micro Finance Banks in the country, the celebration among her customers could be understood. However, happenings within and around the bank have not portrayed it as one that is ready to operate in this century. Banking activities are still being carried out on a daily basis as it were done before the Soludo consolidation. I will expatiate on this assertion.
First and foremost, the physical environment is not conducive for banking in this era of civilization. The bank is reputed to have the harshest and most hostile hall at least as far as Abuja metropolis is concerned. The air-conditioners are not functional and on any good day they do not perform better than ceiling fans. The news making the round is that substandard split air-conditioners were installed. Ceiling fans would even perform better than those garbage called ACs. At least, fresh air would not be shut out completely as is currently the case when the splits ACs are switched on.
It is not uncommon to see customers in their inner vests having pulled off their wears when the heat becomes unbearable. The air-conditioners are of no value. The heat oozing out of the banking hall can be comparable to that of a mini-sized local bakery in most of our villages. The apt description of the bank is to call it a village market square. Dugbe market in Ibadan or Kantin Kwari market in Kano is even friendlier to customers than NPF MFB Abuja. This is what NPF Microfinance bank has to offer Abuja , the capital city of the giant of Africa . The attendant health risks associated with such an unhealthy environment can not be over-emphasized. Tuberculosis, meningitis and other communicable diseases may be let loose in this circumstance.
The management of the bank does not even consider it necessary to provide safe drinking water to its numerous customers via modern water dispensers as is the case with most banks across the country. There are no decent television sets to keep the customers busy. Also there are no enough seating materials for the hapless people that are compelled to do business with the bank.
In the area of operational banking, the bank¢s performance is abysmal. Ordinarily, transaction that shouldn¢t have taken twenty minutes in a normal situation takes hours in NPF MFB. In other words, the average service time per customer is unbelievably too much. Several reasons can be adduced for this. One, there are no enough cashiers to service the customers. On any good day, few cashiers pay while only one receives. How do you reconcile this with a bank that has a large volume of customers? We even sympathize with the cashiers as they are inhumanely overstretched. And most of the time, impatient customers rain abuses and curses on them for faults that are not necessarily theirs.
Secondly, the so called currency counting machines supplied by the Branch Manager are nothing but mere decorations. They have all broken down soon after they were supplied. Cashiers have to make do with the older ones since they perform better than the ones supplied by the Branch Manager. It is common knowledge that there are imitations of such items and it appears the management of the bank is always interested in supplying substandard materials to the bank. When a customer has to withdraw or make deposit of huge sums in N100 or N200 denominations, the result can better be imagined. DeLaRue or Glory GFB or Glory GFB-800 counters are the leading brands in the market, but NPF Microfinance bank went for the imitation of the Glory brand, and by extension the cheapest brand in the market i.e. Glory, without any model number. At the end, it is the customers who suffer and the unfortunate cashiers who are always at the receiving end.
When the bank upgraded its system late last year, it was a nightmare for its customers and staff alike. The members of staff were closing not earlier than 9pm. There was nothing like weekends for them. The software used by the bank has long been discarded in the banking industry. Only the management of the bank knows what informed them of their choice.
The manager of the bank seems not to be interested in the progress of the bank. He is hardly seen around the bank and whenever he comes in, he confines himself to the luxury of his office which is tastefully furnished. The air-conditioner works perfectly and the furniture is state of the art. Rumour has it that the manager spends most of his time at Force Headquarters pursuing contracts. He has the choice to resign his appointment and go into full business so as to pave way for those that are genuinely interested in managing the bank. You can¢t eat your cake and have it. Should the greed of one man be allowed to kill the bank to the detriment of its numerous customers while the same man is advancing his own business interest?
The next issue that is so appalling is that of branch operations and provision of Automated Teller Machine (ATM). NPF MFB Abuja is the only bank in Abuja that does not have a single ATM point at the bank premises or anywhere for that matter.. The bank does not even consider it good business to put one at Force Headquarters or Police Command Area 11 where the bank has a sizeable concentration of her customers. Ironically, UBA and Union Bank both have an ATM point at the Force Headquarters. It has not embraced the ATM technology. NPF MFB has just one branch in Abuja Fortis, a competitor in micro financing, has branches at the following locations: Garki 2, Wuse Market, Emab Plaza , Utako market area, Area 11 along Ahmadu Bello, Nyanya and many more. They are even present in a remote village called Kabusa in Abuja . Can anyone sincerely describe NPF MFB as a serious entity?
If nothing is done about these anomalies within a reasonable time, I may be compelled to close my account as several others have done. My account may be a small component in the bank but wise counsel has it that the unit components put together make the larger part.
Moses Yohana (For Concerned Customers)
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