Entrepreneurs in Nigeria are concerned about banks’ failure to issue new naira notes as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s deadline approaches in just a few days (CBN).
According to the Guardian study, less than 40% of the banks are already dispensing the new naira notes at the counter and through Automated Teller Machines (ATM).
A visit to a few commercial banks in Isolo, Lagos, and Ota, Ogun State, revealed that many clients, especially business entities, were regularly depositing outdated naira notes.
Surprisingly, some clients who went up front for large cash withdrawals were let down when they discovered that they were given old naira notes.
It was practically the same situation for individuals who utilized ATMs, as some users expressed disappointment when the machines were unable to dispense fresh notes. They consequently resorted to only removing a token in case of emergencies.
Residents told The Guardian in a conversation that they withdrew a few notes because the machines weren’t printing new ones and the deadline was drawing near.
However, sources in several of the banks claimed that CBN did not provide commercial banks with enough fresh notes to facilitate the switching procedure.
In Lagos State, a banker stated: “Currently, the new note isn’t available in our branch. We received just N1.5m in new notes the previous week.”
“The deadline is fast approaching, but we are not getting the expected quantity. We are suspecting that they will roll it out massively next week because there are no indications that the deadline will be extended.”
Another banker in Ota, Ogun State, said: “We are getting the new notes but in small quantity. What we are getting is not enough to go around. I don’t know what game the CBN is playing, but if truly the deadline is anything to go by, there should be a massive rollout of the money by now.”
The CBN has maintained that the deadline for the old notes of January 31, 2023, is inviolate.
Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, threatened to fine institutions that refused to accept the new notes during a visit to raise awareness of the adoption of the newly redesigned naira in Ikeja, Lagos.
He stated that the new naira notes were in the vaults of the apex bank and were ready for the commercial banks to pick them up.
Kofo Salam-Alada, the director of CBN’s legal services department, spoke on Emefiele’s behalf during the ceremony.
“We have been calling on the banks to approach the CBN across the country to pick up the new notes and we have even waived some of the conditionality for accessing currency notes to accommodate the banks.”
“The banks were being given slots, but now the CBN is bending backward to accommodate the demands of the banks in order to service them so that they can service customers for easy access to the new naira notes,”
According to him, the apex bank is currently visiting commercial banks to keep an eye on them and their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) to make sure that no longer were clients being paid in the new naira notes over the counter but rather through the ATMs.
Emefiele urged customers to deposit their old notes in order to avoid being taken off guard and reiterating that the January 31 deadline for the submission of the old naira notes was sacred.
Timmy David, President of the Coalition of Associations in Computer Village, pleaded with the CBN to make the fresh notes available before the deadline.
He stated: “All ATMs should be loaded with the new naira notes. As we are giving the old notes, we should be able to take back new notes. If the machines are not dispensing the new notes, then it will not circulate.”