By Chinwendu Obienyi
Despite the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s recent directive on the validity of Naira notes, Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Microfinance Banks (MFBs) across the country continued to ration bank notes to customers.
The CBN had in a directive on Monday, stated that it met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023. “Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly”, it said.
However, Daily Sun findings on Thursday, revealed that some customers in some banks were once again left seething and engaged in brawls as huge queues were seen in the banking halls and their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
Some customers were still writing their names and asked to pick numbers according to their arrival time. A bank staff at one of the new generation banks at Lekki Phase 1, said that the earlier directive had led to the small amount of old notes that was still left in their bank vault and added that the banks are still awaiting the supply of the old and new notes from the apex bank.
Furthermore, MFBs who had earlier stated in recent emails to customers that they had started accepting and dispensing old naira notes at its branches, could not keep up with the demand from customers and hence were forced to pay customers N10,000 over the counter.
“We had to pay the customers N10,000 so that the money can go round because the ones we have here cannot be enough for the huge presence here”, a staff at the bank said.
Johnson Mercy, a hair stylist and a bank customer said, “I have been here standing for an hour and they are paying some customers N15,000 and N10,000. We have been asking why it is so and we were told that the money is being rationed so that every person here can have something to go home with”.
Reacting to the development, Fiscal policy partner Africa tax leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Taiwo Oyedele, said the CBN should go back to re-strategizing and tap into data to solve the problem. Oyedele said, “The CBN should tap into data to solve this scarcity. They can also partner key stakeholders and involve relevant agencies from the government and especially from the tax system as tax is a primarily objective and anti-graft agencies, infrastructure providers and get to know how much time they need to get this problem done. Data is absolutely key to this current development, if they have clear details of the amount of the notes (both old and new), then they can go about the solution in the right way and everyone will be happy again”.