Nigerians spend hours at ATMs, PoS centres over scarcity of new notes


MANY Nigerians today spent hours at automated teller machines (ATMs) and point-of-sale (PoS) centres in efforts to obtain the redesigned naira notes, which have been scarce across the country.

For many, the efforts were fruitless as most ATMs had no notes to dispense. The scarcity opened a window of opportunity for PoS merchants who had the new notes as they raised the commission on transactions.

“We currently charge N1,500 as commission on every withdrawal of N10,000 new notes. We are doing this because we don’t even get from the bank the commensurate amount we request. The currency is scarce. You can see the long queue at the Union Bank ATM,” a PoS merchant in Abuja, Memunat Musiliu, told our correspondent today.

Many bankers The ICIR spoke with in Lagos and Abuja complained of scarcity of the new notes, with an explanation that they were yet to receive them in amounts they requested from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The notes are stil scarce. Our ATM are not dispensing currently. We have run out of the few notes we were given. We cannot put the old notes in the ATM, lest we risk santion by the CBN,” a banker at a Stanbic IBTC branch in Abuja, who pleaded anonymity, told The ICIR.

At the Keystone Bank branch in Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, some people could be seen at the lone ATM there milling to get the new notes.

Crowd at Keystone Bank branch at Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, milling to obtain new notes

There seems to be no relief still for the citizens on wide availability of the redesigned notes after the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced on Sunday, January 29, 2023 a 10-day extension of the deadline for the use of old naira notes.

Emefiele Godwin
Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor announced deadline extension

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Emefiele, who said he had the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari on the extension, gave the new deadline as February 10.

FCMB ATM in  Kubwa, FCT with large crowd

He warned that the people must utilize the opportunity to swap their old notes because the deadline would not be extended again.

The CBN had in October 2022 announced introduction of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 naira notes and gave a deadline of January 31, 2023 for the use of the old notes.

The new notes were, however, scarce to obtain nationwide, necessitating a clamour for deadline extension to address concerns of poor circulation.

An industry analyst has expressed doubts the extension would solve all the issues raised about the redesigned currency.

Yusuf says extension won’t solve key issues

“Just got news that the deadline for the currency swap has been extended by 10 days. The CPPE believes that 10 days is grossly inadequate to make up for the glaring shortcomings of the apex bank in this process,” an economist and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprise, Muda Yusuf, told The ICIR.

Yusuf stressed that despite the extension, there were still shortcomings in the policy capable of dislocating businesses.

He said that the failure to give adequate time for the currency swap could put the N100 trillion component of the national gross domestic product at risk.

He saw the two critical sectors of Trade/Commerce and Agriculture as particularly vulnerable.

According to him, the crippling of business transactions at the distributive trade end amid the currency swap crisis would not only undermine the trade and agricultural sectors, it would also have a knock-on effect on the manufacturing value-chain and the services sectors.

He noted that the trade sector contributes about 14 per cent of the GDP valued at an estimated N35 trillion, while the agricultural sector contributes 25 per cent, valued at an estimated N62 trillion.

Most of the activities in these sectors, he said, were either in the rural areas or in the informal sector, adding, “These are the sectors that have been driving the resilience of the Nigerian economy amid numerous domestic and global headwinds. Any policy measure that would negatively disrupt these sectors should be avoided.

Yusuf argued that for an economy tottering on the brink, the capacity to absorb shocks and disruptions was severely constrained.

“With 133 million Nigerians in poverty, inflicting additional hardship on the citizens will be unfair,  insensitive and inconsiderate.  The reality is that, presently, in many parts of the country, more than half of the currency in the hands of citizens are still old notes. And it is on record that the banks are still giving out old notes even a few days to the CBN deadline. The citizens should not be made to pay for the incompetence, inefficiency and ineptitude of state institutions,” he said.


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