Madam Romoke fears that armed robbers might attack the bank, imagining sporadic and thunderous gunshots while she is trapped inside.
She is fifty years old, trades farm produce and owns a variety store. Romoke started trading over thirty years ago before she got married. Particularly palm oil and kola nuts.
“I buy the harvest from farmers and keep it in stock because these farmers do not have storage facilities or other sources of livelihood other than their products.” So the farmers sell, she buys and stores in small quantities until the items fill a truck. Then she transports the goods to an urban centre for sale.
The business is seasonal. When the farm commodities are not in season, she switches back to her variety store, selling provisions and school items for children.
Madam Romoke lives with her husband in a small town near Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, where there is no bank. The population is less than a thousand. She travels weekly to restock her shop or conclude transactions for her farm commodities business.
Despite Madam Romoke’s trade volume of ₦150,000 to ₦250,000 in revenue per commodities truck, she does not own a bank account. Even more, her variety store brings in an average of ₦35,000 in revenue weekly. Visiting the bank, she says, is a tiring exercise. In her words, the stress is too much, they take much of your time. In addition, she cites long queues and the ‘uppity’ attitude of bank officials as a turn-off. The fear of being caught up during a robbery attack is just another one of those reasons. Although she laughs at this, she worries about it enough that she looks around twice and increases her pace whenever she walks past bank premises.
However, she does carry out bank transactions, acknowledging that almost everyone has a bank account nowadays and that it is increasingly dangerous to keep or carry cash. How does she transact when she does not have a bank?
“Thank God for my last child,” she said. She has a young son who undergoes what she calls “banking stress.” He opened a bank account in his name and helps his mother use it for her transactions. When she needs to send or receive money, she calls on him. “I transfer, receive payments and get notified promptly.” Her son also visits the banking hall when necessary.
Will she open an account in the future?
Yes, she wants to have her bank account soon. Her son would soon leave for higher education, moving out of the town, and available. Before that happens, she hopes to open a bank account number and manage her transactions by herself.
Madam Romoke owns a basic mobile phone and knows about “using codes to bank” (USSD codes). “When I get my bank account, I will transact on the small phone, for now, the way other trading women like me transact on their phones.” Eventually, she plans to get an Android smartphone, having seen the incredible capabilities of these devices.
24/7 access to the internet can lead to a bubble in which we are oblivious to the way of life of others who do not own smartphones and are not connected to the internet. No-Internet Diaries is a peek into the life of these everyday Nigerians who do not use the internet on a daily basis.
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