Barely four days to the expiration of the deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria for old naira notes to fizzle out, banks across the country are running short of the new currency, Daily Trust can report.
The case is further worsened by the fact that commercial banks still give old notes to customers for Over- the- Counter Withdrawals (OTC) while very few Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) dispense the new naira notes.
A visit to some of the commercial banks in Abuja by Daily Trust showed that bank customers can only withdraw a maximum of N20,000 of the new notes while old notes are still being given to customers for withdrawals in the banking halls, against the directive of the CBN.
Daily Trust reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had directed customers to start rejecting old naira notes from banks, insisting that the old notes cease to be legal tender by January 31 as earlier stipulated.
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Our reporter who went to withdraw new notes was given old naira notes at a popular bank in the Garki Area of the FCT. The bank staff simply told our reporter that “The Central bank did not supply them and the little supply they have is what they load at ATMs in order to obey the CBN directive.
She said: “Immediately the ATMs are loaded, customers rush immediately to exhaust the little cash in it”.
Another bank Customer in Kano, Salihu Bello said “He was in the banking hall on Thursday where a customer was making trouble because he needed new cash to pay his own staff (labourers). The bank tellers said they didn’t have what they had expected to get today but they were not supplied. The bank is still paying old currencies”
Also another bank Customer, Ruth Tene stated that “Most banks today are claiming they don’t have cash to pay customers today, particularly Zenith Bank and GT Bank, Jabi all the same case,”
Meanwhile, Daily Trust observes that business owners in major markets and supermarkets have begun to reject the old naira notes.
At the popular Wuse Market in Abuja, Bashir Isa, a resident of the area who went to purchase some goods with the old naira notes could not do so as the traders there told him they won’t accept the old noted
The same scenario is playing out at a popular Chinese store in the popular Jabi Lake mall located in the Jabi district where attendants are outrightly rejecting the old notes.
Reps tackle commercial Banks over new currency policy
Members of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc committee have tackled commercial bank operators over the hardship being experienced by Nigerians over the new currency policy imposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Responding separately, the banks Chief Executives Officers (CEOs) revealed that the amount of new Naira notes allocated to the banks are not enough to meet the demands of their customers.
Speaking, one of the bank’s executives, Hadiza Ambursa informed that their bank collects about 10 per cent of what they deposit to the Central Bank.
On his part, Sterling Bank’s Orlando Umoren who corroborated what the Access Bank official said, noting that Sterling Bank received and disbursed varied amounts of the new notes.
He said: “We received a minimum of N150 million to be shared. In Kaduna, N150 million, in Kano, we received N100 million to be shared amongst the branches in the metropolis. They are being fed in the ATM only and not to be given to the customers across the counter. In Abuja here, what we are given is about 80 per cent. In Kano, it is less than 10.
“What we get in return is nothing comparable… The reason why the new naira note is not coming. It is in the furtherance of the cashless policy. The banks are still under pressure to ensure that they meet the deadline”.
The Regional Executive for Heritage Bank, Oniko Daniel called on the public to understand the policy as put up by the CBN and the position of the commercial banks as entities regulated by the apex bank.
He said, “If you load a cartridge, which is about 8 million, in less than 2 hours that 8 million is finished. It must be understood. People want to deposit N10 million and want to collect N10 million, but It is not possible. CBN is doing cash swaps in rural areas. The public needs to know the guidelines and what the CBN is saying. CBN guideline is more or less a rule to the commercial banks”.
While speaking on whether the policy and the deadline set by the CBN on the new currency is feasible, the Chief Executive of Retail and Commercial Banking, North, First Bank Nigeria Plc, Shehu Aliyu said, they are guided by the guidelines put by the CBN and cannot determine anything regarding the policy.
He said “We have seen an upsurge of people coming to open accounts and deposit money into those accounts. We have been handling this as much as we can. After this hearing, we will bring details. We have been paying out new notes across the country.
Speaking, the Chairman of the committee faulted the CBN on the policy saying that it violated the CBN Establishment Act by setting up a deadline of January 31st for the old currency to cease as a legal tender.
He said, “Section 20(3) made it necessary, mandatory on the CBN not at any point to refuse to accept old notes simply because of the expiry date.
“The position of the law is that our old notes must continue under every circumstance to have value. The values of the old notes must be respected and protected by the CBN and the commercial banks.
House threatens to wield the big stick against Emefiele
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila has threatened that the House will issue an arrest warrant against the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele over his refusal to honour the invitation of its Ad-hoc committee over the new currency matter.
He said, “The resolution of the House was predicated on information showing that the rollout of the redesigned naira notes has been an unmitigated failure. This failure has real and dire consequences on the ability of Nigerians to conduct business across the country.
“The refusal by the CBN to heed the invitation by the House of Representatives is evidence of a blatant disregard for the well-being of the Nigerian people who are their customers. It is also an insult to the authority and prerogatives of the people’s parliament.
“Therefore, I will, pursuant to the authority conferred by Section 89 (1) (d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Order 19 (2)(1) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives, not hesitate to issue a warrant to the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force to compel the attendance of the CBN or Managing Directors who fail, refuse or neglect to respond to the summons by the House of Representatives”.
CBN begins cash swap in Bayelsa, Sokoto, Kogi, others
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has begun a cash swap policy in Bayelsa State through agents to distribute the newly redesigned notes to unbanked persons in rural communities.
A Manager with the CBN, Abuja branch, Mr. Nweke Jude, during a visit to the commercial banks in Yenagoa to monitor compliance, said the critical part of the assignment was to actually assess the newly introduced cash swap policy to ensure that ordinary people and the under-banked, especially in rural areas, would also have access to new notes through super agents and the banks.
There was jubilation at Wamakko town in Wamakko Local Government Area of Sokoto State as the CBN brought redesigned naira notes for swapping with rural residents.
Speaking while flagging off the exercise on Thursday, the Sokoto branch comptroller, Dahiru Usman explained that, it was meant to ensure redesigned notes reach people living in rural communities.
The CBN also commenced the implementation in the three senatorial districts of Kogi State simultaneously in its bid to make more new naira notes.
The cash-swap exercise was carried out at Ojokutu, Kabba junction, Ohinoyi’s palace, Okene Market Square, and Obeiba – Ihima in the central senatorial district where hundreds exchanged their old naira notes with new ones.
By Philip Shimnom Clement, Balarabe Alkassim (Abuja), Bassey Willie, (Yenagoa), Abubakar Auwal, (Sokoto) Tijani Labaran (Lokoja)