The cancel culture in Nigeria is perhaps one of the fastest-growing phenomena. Unfortunately, it is mostly done with emotion rather than deep thinking.
Lately, there has been a strong resentment against Access Bank Plc for heeding the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on freeze order against accounts linked to #EndSARS protesters. Some have called for the youths to boycott Access bank for messing with the wrong generation.
In as much as there is no debate that the move by the CBN appears a crackdown against protesters; the order from the CBN is not a matter of convenience for the banks. Rather, it is an obligation backed by law through the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA). Forget the online tantrums, banks are scared of CBN directives.
This piece has no intention of justifying or defending either the CBN, Access Bank or even Bolt; but to focus on the cancel culture.
UPDATE: I’ve now written an order to @myaccessbank and submitted at my branch. In case you need a template, here’s mine. Attach the letter to the form, alongside a valid ID and you are good to go. Don’t let them get away with assisting our oppressors. #BoycottAccessBank #EndSARS pic.twitter.com/NoHZpArsYF
— Farida Adamu (@thefaridaadamu) November 12, 2020
On Tuesday, it was the turn of the ride-hailing app, Bolt, to come under the hammer of the cancel culture. A number of Twitter users had railed at the unprofessional conduct of some of the drivers on the platform. Also, they had accused the management of Bolt of choosing to pay influencers to launder its image; rather than fix the issues.
Bolt is not safe. Bolt is not reliable. Bolt is canceled. Stop using Bolt today.
— YT: Tiana Ladipz (@OloriOfOloris) November 17, 2020
Consequently, the brand had also faced the cancel culture. Nigerians were urged to stop using the app or even delete it from their mobile phones.
But before you trend a hashtag with the intent to hurt a brand; ask yourself, who is this action going to affect?
When in the moment of passion, Television Continental (TVC) studios was burnt; did anyone believe that it hurt Bola Tinubu financially? The answer is, not really. The people working in that establishment have more to lose.
In the case of Access Bank and other banks, or even Bolt for that matter; it’s a whole different ball game entirely. The 2008 financial crisis has taught the world one important lesson: banks are interlinked than we can ever imagine. The implication of a bank like Access failing will hurt Nigerians more than the management of the organization.
The domino effect will be staggering, with lot of fintech startups taking a hit as the bank will drag them all to the pit. Some banks are just too big to fail.
These banks are ruthless when it comes to obeying the law of profits without giving a second thought about its impact. In addition, the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) will still use public funds to bail out the bank.
Let’s even assume the campaign is looking at a PR dent on the bank, not the collapse of the bank. Even at that, lower earning bank staff will still bear the burden of any shortfall. Staff would be given crazy targets and those unable to meet such targets could find themselves in the labour market, joining millions already in the overstretched market.
However, it must be restated that this piece is not preaching docility and powerlessness; especially in the face of oppression by both the political and business elite. Far from it. But whatever action is decided should be properly reviewed and appraised.
There are costs and benefits to any action taken. Hence, the question that should be on the mind of those people pushing the cancel culture should be; is this cost acceptable for the goal?
With the growing cancel culture, one must bear something else in mind. Most of these decisions come from spontaneous reactions. In the world of social media and influencers, almost every tweet is probably a marketing stunt or strategy.
Unfortunately, what is critical is having a balance where the demand for legitimate rights will not cost others their livelihood.