I woke up this morning feeling very refreshed giving myself kudos on how I had come up with a beautiful plan to get the new naira notes. Although, the initial plan was to wake up at 5am but I quickly removed that from my head. “Haba! E never reach like that na” I thought to myself.
As soon as it was 6:30am, I went to the bathroom, washed my face and other parts I deemed necessary. I wasn’t excited about this naira quest I was about to embark on. This was partly because we miraculously had Power. “Omo! make my phone just enter 50%, I go dey alright”, I said aloud. Once my phone was at 50% percent, I began to dress up.
I wore a top and a short and I spoke out, “Leni leni je, ama ti werey bo”. Don’t mind me! I just always like to pride myself in the fact that I can go from 0 to 100 real quick when it’s needed. ( A skill that comes naturally if you are born and brought up in Lagos).
I got to the bank at 7:25am and was flabbergasted. For lack of a better word Apa mi jabo mehn (I was humbled). Ashe I wasn’t the only one that had the same idea. As I came down from the Keke napep, all eyes were on me! I went closer to 2 people who were sitting on a pavement (They seemed like siblings). I began to speak with a fake smile on my face, “Good morning o! Please, what is happening here?” One of the siblings responded, “We are waiting for them to open the bank so that their staff can put cash in the machine”. I replied “wait o! I don’t understand. Are you saying that all these here are waiting for the bank to open”? She smiled at me and said “Yes! Go and take your number from that woman standing over there”. I replied, “oh! thank you o”.
I carried myself to the woman’s side. “Good morning ma, I want to collect the number ma”. Emphasis on the “ma” o.
I was so determined to be nice and sweet to anybody as long as it meant I got what I needed. She looked at me and tore out a sheet of paper. On it, I saw no 145. I just started sweating all of a sudden. Is this playing or what? “How can it be?” I thought to myself. The woman didn’t even look at my face; she just continued attending to others. I walked back to the girl that gave me the information and began to complain to her. She just looked at me. “Do you know when I got here?” I responded, “No!!”. She continued, “ I got here 6:30am and I’m number 80”. I screamed and laughed at the same time. Basically, I screamed-laughed. (If you want to learn how to scream-laugh, please let me know after reading).
Did I mention that on my way to the bank, I had told myself give or take, I wasn’t going to spend more than 3 hours at the bank? Well if I did not, I’m telling you, that was THE PLAN!
We stood and stood at 8, 9 and 10 am, yet no one from the bank attended to us. They announced through the security guard that they were ready to attend to people over the counter but could not give more than 2k. As expected, many people ignored their offer and preferred to queue at the ATM.
By this time I had joined a group of people (there were other groups, kinda based on age range). They looked young and vibrant. We began to rant about Nigeria and the shege our eyes have seen. Trust me! Conversations like this can be very annoying and fun at the same time. You go just dey vex as you dey share your experience and then you end up laughing at either yourself or someone else’s narration. Haha so pitiable!
I noticed one guy in this small group, he looked too calm for my liking. I began to watch him. “How will someone be this calm in this present situation🤔 with no single worry? I thought to myself. I went closer to him. “Hi, what’s your number?” he responded, “Number 3! What’s yours?”. I looked at him and smiled “I can’t tell you, I just can’t say it with my mouth”. He looked at me and continued, “is it that bad?”, I looked at him with a sad face and replied, “Yes”.
“Can you please help me withdraw when it’s your turn?”, I said to him. He looked at me with a serious face and said, “Oh, you don’t know how it works at all. I was here yesterday and no one was allowed to use more than one card. Also, you can only collect the sum of 10k and once you do you are to leave the ATM”.
“Why are these people just making life hard for Christ’s sake? It’s not fair! Nigeria is already hard enough, why make it harder!”, I began to rant. He looked at me like he felt my pain and said, “If you don’t mind, follow me to a nearby bank. I have collected a number there as well and the crowd is not as many as the one we have here”. I followed him, not caring if he was about to kidnap me. I asked him what number he got at this second bank, he looked at me and said “number 3”. It was there it dawned on me that I wasn’t taking this money issue as seriously as others were.
Nigerians always find a way around the system 🤦♀️. If there’s a system to beat, trust Nigerians to find the way! . It didn’t take long for me to put 2’s together that this was what POS operators were doing too! He (never asked his name) waited for me to collect my own number then we went back to the first bank together. Don’t bother asking me what number I was given this time. It was discouraging!
We went back to the first bank and joined our group. By then a new person had joined. He looked at me and asked what my number was, I told him it couldn’t be said. He asked if I wouldn’t mind if he gave me a number. “Ha!!! I don’t mind sir. What number do you want to give me?” He replied, “number 27”.” Do you want anything in return?” I asked quickly. He responded, “No! I just want to help you” Omo!!! I started raining prayers on him. In fact, I embarrassed him with prayers. The guy was just laughing!
A few minutes later, we began to hear sounds from the ATM. It was here the real battle began! It was the battle of the fittest. Even the charming prince that was by my side left me o. People began to push and push and many didn’t want that “numbering” system to work. Their numbers were either too far or they were just being impatient! I immediately put my phone inside my bag and hung it around my neck (to avoid it being stolen).
It got to my turn, and I was told “Because I don’t have an account with the said bank, I won’t be able to withdraw more than 2k”. I first traced the angle that voice was coming from. Trying to decide whether I should fly on the person or remove my cloth. (As per, na wetin these banks staff understand be that). I quickly had a rethink when I remembered instablog9ja might put me on their blog. Fast forward to a few minutes later, I was only able to withdraw 5k. The disappointment! 🤦♀️
I left there to go to the second bank. In my mind if I could just get 20k, it would really make a lot of sense.
You remember that prince charming? The one that was looking too chilled? I met him again at the second location and by this time he had gotten more cash. I looked at him with that sad face again. I think he felt bad. That’s when he told me he has another number with him. This time, number 21. I thanked him and discreetly collected the number from him.
We are thinking the same thing right? Was I going to fool people who saw me when I arrived? How?
As a Sabi girl, I stationed myself where some guys were. You know those kinds of guys that people are afraid to behave anyhow with, that’s where I stood. I was just laughing at every joke they were making. Omo! After a while, one of them asked what my number was and I said number 21. He said “ You done dey here since morning abi? I said, “Yes” but I have been having running stomach so I had to go back and forth from home to the bank. One of them responded “sorry sis! Na Buhari cause all these stress” I replied “Na so we see am…after this coming election, things gats change o”.
“Next!!! Number 14 where are you?” . This was the last thing I heard before I noticed that everyone was running 🏃 helter-skelter. Some people were even crossing the road to the other side. I asked the closest person beside me “Bros what’s going on, why are they running? ”. He responded “A motorist just dropped an information that there’s riot going on everywhere and we should leave the ATM because they have been burning ATMs all day” I replied “Ha! Are you serious?”. He did not even wait to respond to me 🤣. He left me there to answer my question myself. The bank closed its gate and turned off all their machines.
As you know, Ondo people can be very stubborn. I did not move an inch o. “I must withdraw this money today”, I said to myself. I looked around, and everywhere seemed normal to me. Gratefully, I was not the only one with the coconut head there! We Plenty!!! “Na me know wetin my eye done see today” , I thought to myself. “I’m not moving an inch Until I withdraw tod…”. I had not finished my sentence when we started hearing noise and people running away. I did not just move, I disappeared ( Mo po ra).
It was at this point, I knew it was over! I had tried and it was time to go home! Na 2k follow me reach house sha!
Thanks for reading!