By Chinwendu Obienyi
Acute scarcity of new naira notes continued on Tuesday as most Nigerians were still unable to get enough cash from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) from different bank locations in parts of the country, leading to anger and complaints from customers.
It was also tough getting money at Point of Sales (PoS) terminals as the vendors issued a mixture of old and new notes to customers at rediculously high fees ranging from N500-N1000 per N5000.
Daily Sun gathered that most buyers and sellers, especially in informal markets, were stranded as some of them found it difficult to agree on cash transfers terms. Furthermore, several banking halls were actually empty at some locations on Victoria Island, Apapa, Festac, and Orile, all in Lagos as banks were said to be paying N100 over the counter. While banks in locations like Ibadan and Aba were reported to have paid about N2000 despite customers insisting on huge amounts to be withdrawn due to huge queues at the banks’ ATMs.
PoS terminals which are a critical part of the payment ecosystem were reportedly paying a mixture of the old and the new naira notes to customers at a higher charges depending on the amount of cash withdrawal.
Speaking to Daily Sun yesterday, many of the operators said they had to use the “black market” to get both the old and new notes from unexpected quarters hence their resolve to charge a lot of money from people who were willing to withdraw cash.
Despite the extension of the deadline by 10 days, Daily Sun investigations found out that customers who visited banking halls for withdrawals were turned back as they were told that only deposits were accepted.
Customers responding to this development were very upset and accused the banks of hoarding these new notes with the intension of selling same to politicians who have started stockpiling cash for vote buying in February and March elections.
A visibly angry entertainer, Omotunde Adebowale-David, also known as Lolo 1, in a video posted on her Instagram page, said, “I am so tired and angry at the state of the nation. Even the rich are crying. I collected N10,000 from a PoS operator and the charge was N1000 and it was not even new notes. Is the country going to break completely before we see a way to fix it? It is more costly to rebuild. People are sick and there are people who cannot pay school fees because of this problem”.
A bank staff who agreed to speak to Daily Sun after much pressure said, “We are yet to get adequate supply of the new naira notes to meet up with the increasing demand of our customers. I cannot tell when these notes will get to us but once it does, we can now dispense via our ATMs according to the CBN’s directive but for now, the new notes are in inadequate supply”.
Meanwhile, Emefiele has said that banks will continue to accept old naira notes after the stipulated deadline.
Emefiele spoke on Tuesday when he appeared at an interactive session with the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the currency redesign and naira swap policy.
He said the CBN will also accept the old naira from banks after the February 10 deadline while making reference to the CBN act that mandates the apex bank to continue to accept old notes after its expiration.
He said, “Section 20 (3) of the CBN act states: “Notwithstanding sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section, the bank shall have power, if directed to do so by the president and after giving reasonable notice in that behalf, to call in any of its notes or coins on payment of the face value thereof and any note or coin with respect to which a notice has been given under this sub-section, shall, on the expiration of the notice, cease to be legal tender, but, subject to section 22 of this act, shall be redeemed by the bank upon demand”.