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Nigerians lament scarce quantity of new Naira notes

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 Nigerians lament scarce quantity of new Naira notes
Cbn New Naira

Two weeks into the release of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), millions of Nigerians have not physically seen or transacted business with the notes.

Many of those who spoke to Daily Trust in Abuja, Kano and Lagos are worried over the scarcity of the new notes, especially at banks’ Automated Teller Machine (ATM) points.

This concern is coming less than 28 days to the January 31 deadline CBN fixed for phasing out of the old naira banknotes.

The CBN introduced the redesigned banknotes on December 15, 2022, saying it was part of measures to control inflation, mop up currency outside the banking system, fight corruption and discourage payment of huge cash to kidnappers and bandits among others.

Lagos

Checks at ATMs across Lagos indicated that the old notes are still being dispensed.

Customers who visited the banking halls before the holiday also disclosed that they were issued the old notes. One of them, Miss Iyunade Phillip said, “I was given old notes at the bank on Thursday, December 29. The new notes are very scarce. I am not sure if they can keep to the January 31 deadline because the notes are not available.”

It was learnt from some bank workers in Ojo, Ikeja and Agbara in Lagos and Ogun states that they have not been issued new notes while others said the CBN was rationing the new notes.

“We don’t have any new notes and have not been dispensing any in the last one week because CBN has not issued us any since the last one was disbursed,” said an Access Bank staff member at GRA Ikeja.

A Point of Sales (POS) operator in the Ogba area of Lagos, Mrs Zainab Ajibade, said she was still collecting the old notes because the new ones are hardly available. She said that banks are still issuing the old notes to them.

“They are still issuing the old notes to us and in some cases if you are lucky, you can get N2, 000 worth of new notes if you are making a withdrawal of N50, 000 or N100,000 depending on availability,” she said.

READ ALSO: We don’t know quantities of new naira notes printed, says CBN

It was also observed that most customers who paid with cash at shopping malls and stores during the festive period used the old notes.

Hawkers make brisk business

However, Daily Trust gathered that currency hawkers are profiting from the few redesigned notes in circulation.

In some areas, they charged as high as N10, 000 on a bundle.

A bundle of new N200 notes which is N20,000 is sold for N30,000 while N500 and N1,000 which are N50,000 and N100,000 are sold for N60,000 and N110,000 respectively.

A currency hawker who spoke on condition of anonymity said the charges are their gain.

“There are very few new notes in the market. It was a difficult task getting them during the festive period. We would have made huge gains if they were available. We also paid for the few new notes we got so we have to put the charges,” he said, noting that they couldn’t meet the demand of their customers who wanted the new notes for the celebration of the New Year.

Abuja

Some of the banks visited by our reporter in Abuja showed that the new naira notes were not yet inputted in the ATM machines.

Despite the GTBank in Jabi having seven ATMs in its vicinity, all were not dispensing the new naira notes.

When our reporter visited the bank yesterday, a security guard said the machines were yet to be loaded with the new notes.

A customer of the bank, Danladi Isah, who withdrew from one of the machines, said he was not concerned about the type of money available.

He said since the old currencies were still a legal tender, he was not worried as he will spend the notes he collected before the CBN’s policy takes effect.

Another customer, Philip Abu, said it was tough at the bank he visited as everyone was requesting for the new banknotes. “What they did was to give a piece of the N1, 000 notes to everyone making withdrawal; we even asked for the N500 note but they said it has been exhausted.”

The situation was the same at Zenith Bank in Jabi as it was observed that people who withdrew from the machines left with old notes of N1, 000.

While a security guard confirmed that, a user of the machine, Paul Obinna, said since the old notes could still be used for transactions, he had nothing to be afraid of as it was little funds he came to withdraw.

“People that need to be worried about the new notes are those that engage in huge transactions. For me, if I should withdraw N50, 000, all in old notes, I will spend them before the deadline takes effect,” he said.

Some bank customers however said that shortly after the December 15 roll out time, some banks issued pieces of the new banknotes.

Halima Musa, a Jaiz Bank customer in Gwarinpa, Abuja, said, “I went to withdraw N50, 000 from the bank and they added just two pieces of the new N1, 000 banknote to it.”

Kano

The scarcity of the new banknotes was also being felt in Kano. Some residents who use ATMs frequently said they were not yet dispensing the new notes.

Likewise, those patronizing PoS and the operators expressed similar views.

Audun Ghali is a marketer in the popular Singer food market and he said: “I went to ATM almost 10 times since when the new notes were released but yet it couldn’t dispense even a single N500 note of the new money.

“The only place one can get money is in the bank when you withdraw a huge amount. Even that is only if you are on good terms with the bankers,” Ghali revealed.

Nazifi Sani, another resident, said he withdrew N70, 000 from the ATM in the early hours of Monday, but all were old notes.

“In fact, they gave me new banknotes but it is the old version, not the new ones.”

Alhaji Nuhu Danliti, also a marketer, said the last time he withdrew money from the bank he got about two per cent in new notes from the total money. He also said his friend got N300, 000 when he withdrew N1 million from the bank.

“I used to do a lot of transactions as a marketer but I got the money once from the bank. For ATMs, it is not even there. I have never seen anybody that got the new naira notes from there. I withdrew N500, 000 from the bank and they gave 2%. My friend also got N300, 000 out of N1 million. That was the only time I got the new naira notes. And to tell you the truth, they are not qualitative. Some people are even rejecting it,” he said.

Jibrin Aminu, who operates a business centre including a PoS machine, said he has only seen the new naira notes once and it was brought by a customer who sent money to his relatives.

He said although he receives and sends money, he neither gets the new notes from the bank nor from people who come for transfer.

‘January phase-off sacrosanct’

The CBN had last week in a circular assured that “The current N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes will circulate side by side with the redesigned banknotes till January 31, 2023, when the current notes shall be withdrawn from circulation and cease to be legal tender.

“The current banknotes remain legal tender till January 31 and should not be rejected as a means of exchange for purchasing goods and services.”

CBN also emphasised that there will be no extension after the January 31, 2023 deadline. It said: “There will be no extension, so citizens are advised to ensure they deposit all the N200, N500 and N1, 000 banknotes in their possession before the deadline of January 31, 2023.”

On December 22, 2022, the Deputy Governor of CBN, Aisha Ahmad, while briefing the House of Representatives on the redesigned naira on behalf of the Central Bank governor, Godwin Emefiele, said 500 million mint notes were ordered by the bank.

She however, did not state how much those notes were worth.

“I am unable to share that now, only because I want to give an accurate figure,” Ahmad responded to the lawmakers’ enquiries.

Efforts to get new information from CBN was not successful as the spokesman, Osita Nwanisobi, did not respond to the enquiries put to him yesterday most likely because of the public holiday.

Daily Trust

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