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Old naira notes: Traders sceptical, want Buhari to address nation

Long queues at Deposit Money Banks as a result of naira scarcity are gradually disappearing in some parts of the country amid fear by traders…

Long queues at Deposit Money Banks as a result of naira scarcity are gradually disappearing in some parts of the country amid fear by traders and customers to accept the old naira notes.

Many Abuja residents are still complaining of cash crunch 48 hours after the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) directive that the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes remain legal tender.

Checks by our reporter yesterday in Utako District showed that almost all the Point of Sale (PoS) operators did not transact with either new or old naira bills.

This is despite the fact that all the supermarkets and retail shops visited in the area were collecting old notes.

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A few of the commercial banks have, however, continued to dispense the old notes at a limited volume with most of them pegging payment at N10,000 per customer via over-the-counter withdrawal while many others await supply from the CBN.

But the situation was different in Abaji Area Council and Kwali Area Council of the FCT where customers and traders rejected the old naira notes.

Our reporter, who visited a bank in Abaji, on Wednesday, observed that some customers were complaining over the issuance of the old N500 and N1,000 notes.

A customer, Bashir Aliyu, who spoke with our reporter, said he went into the bank hall to withdraw money but was given the old naira notes of N1,000 denomination at the counter, which he rejected because he would find it difficult to spend if he went to rural markets.

“I always go to Girinya Market to buy fish and other food items and the traders there don’t accept transfer talk of even giving them the old naira notes. That was why I rejected the old notes,” he said.

He said although he was aware of CBN’s directive to the banks to start issuing the old notes he would not be convinced until President Muhammadu Buhari would come out to address Nigerians to accept the old notes.

A staff member of a bank who pleaded anonymity told our reporter that the bank brought out N500,000 in old notes to give to customers but that the majority of them rejected the money.

He said, “In fact, out of the N500,000 that the bank brought out to give customers, only N150,000 was collected.”

He disclosed that there were no new notes in the bank, saying they were expecting supply from the CBN.

Similarly, some traders in Kwali Area Council also rejected the old notes.

A trader, Mrs Laraba Gwatana, said, “I can’t accept the old notes because we are only hearing rumours that the CBN has directed banks to issue the old notes, but I will not accept them until Buhari addresses Nigerians to collect the old notes as nobody wants to suffer losses again.”

Queues disappearing in Lagos

Daily Trust reports that most banks in Lagos have started loading their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and issuing old naira notes across the counters to their customers.

However, most of the banks are still rationing the cash in their vaults to meet the needs of their customers who have been faced with naira crunch when the CBN enforced its naira redesign policy which the Supreme Court has extended the deadline to December 31.

It was gathered that commercial banks as of yesterday were awaiting more cash from the CBN as well as deposits from customers.

Findings revealed that many are still sceptical about transacting with the old N500 and N1,000 notes despite the directive from the CBN that they are legal tender till December 31 in compliance with the judgment of the Supreme Court.

In Port Harcourt, some filling stations and shopping malls are encouraging their customers to make use of Point of Sale Machines or money transfer instead of using the old N500 and N1,000 notes. They claimed that while banks have started issuing the old notes, they have not been accepting them from customers.

A resident of Port Harcourt, Amaka Ike, said she found it very difficult to transact business with the old naira notes.

“We are finding it difficult to transact business with the old naira notes. Many of us heaved a sigh of relief immediately after CBN declared that old naira notes have become legal tenders.  But shops, filling stations and other business concerns are not accepting the old naira notes. Many of them are saying that they don’t trust the government anymore with their policies that government can change anytime,” he said.

In Awka, there is a substantial improvement in the availability of cash unlike in previous weeks when Nigerians were faced with scarcity.

Banks and PoS operators are issuing the old notes to customers. The PoS operators have also reduced their charges to the pre-naira scarcity era.

Despite scepticism by some traders, the old naira notes were used for transactions at Ekeawka Market in Awka South Local Government.

Traders reject old notes in Kaduna 

Many traders in Kaduna State yesterday rejected the old N500 and N1,000 notes, accepting only the N200 notes and below, Daily Trust reports. 

Our correspondent who visited the Sheikh Gumi Market in the metropolis reports that the traders are still wary that the CBN could reverse its policy on the old notes. 

Other traders our correspondent observed have armed themselves with Point of Sales (PoS) machines that customers use for payment. 

A trader who deals in tomatoes, Malam Lawal Ibrahim, said, “I have not started collecting the old N500 and N1,000 notes; the only one I collect is the N200.”

On why he is rejecting the old notes, he said, “This our government is not straightforward, I am afraid that once I accept the money, the CBN will reverse the money and I will be left to pay the price so it is safer for me not to collect the money for now.”

A vegetable seller, Mohammed Isa, said he would rather reject the old notes than lose his money. 

“The first time we were asked to return the old notes, I spent days in front of the CBN office just to deposit my N100,000 savings, it was not funny. That is why I am taking precautions now. It is better I do not sell than face that again.”

Activities picking up in Kano

In Kano, residents and businessmen are expressing a deep sigh of relief due to the recent directive of the CBN for the return of the old naira notes as legal tender.

Speaking, a businessman at Kwari market, Adamu Hamza, said business activities had started to pick up as people were increasingly going into the markets to buy goods.

“Business activities have changed from yesterday and today. The old cash has now started to circulate though not much but people are bringing it and we accept it also,” he said.

Daily Trust further observed that ATM machines across some banks in the metropolis have since Tuesday begun dispensing the old notes. However, the most available denomination is N500.

Our reporter also observed that ATM machines across banks in different locations known for congestion of people withdrawing cash have drastically reduced.

However, some banks are said to have run out of cash being the reason behind the non-queues at their ATMs.

 

 

By Kamarudeen Ogundele, Abubakar Sadiq Isah, Dalhatu Liman (Abuja), Abiodun Alade (Lagos), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Titus Eleweke (Awka), Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna) & Salim Umar Ibrahim (Kano)

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