Poor circulation of redesigned naira notes worries PoS merchants, others as January deadline draws close


WITH barely a month for the old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1000 to cease as legal tender, many point-of-sale (PoS) operators are worried that the newly redesigned notes are poorly circulating in the face of the January 31, 2023 deadline.

Many of the operators who spoke with our correspondent expressed concern that banks and automated teller machines (ATM) were still dispensing the old notes, with the new notes coming out sparingly from banking halls and the ATMs.

They warned that over 41 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) could be affected if the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not enforce its monetary policy tool and inject more of the redesigned notes into circulation.

Emefiele Godwin
Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor

“I own five PoS businesses. I went to Access Bank and applied to get N2 milliom worth of the new notes. Guess what, I only got N10,000 and the rest were the old notes,” a PoS operator in Abuja, Emeka Onyemaechi, who is also a retired banker, told The ICIR.

Onyemaechi explained that the poor circulation had been fuelling rejection by customers, especially traders, who were yet to be convinced of the originality of the few new notes they had been getting because they were not seeing them in wide circulation.

“Some customers are rejecting the notes, telling us it looks like a counterfeit currency. The circulation is poor and many people are yet to get acclimatised to the new currency,” he added.

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Yomi Akintola, who runs his PoS business in Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja, corroborated that banks were sparsely dispensing the redesigned notes.

Akintola was also worried that barely a month to the expiration of the old notes, the redesigned notes were still poorly circulating.

A commercial motorcycle rider in Enugu State, Emeka Onyegbule, told The ICIR that most of his passengers had been rejecting the new notes, describing them as counterfeits. According to him, PoS operators in Enugu were still dispensing the old notes more, with the new notes coming in trickles.

“I get the new notes from my customers more than I do from the PoS and even banks. I don’t know why the money is too scarce. Maybe that’s part of the reason why some of the customers are describing them as counterfeits,” Onyegbule said.

To the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Monday Osasa, the policy was being weakly enforced as a result of poor social mobilisation.

Osasa said, “If there’s going to be naira redesigning with set dates of enforcement, and we have not heard the National Orientation Agency and the CBN being aggressive on social mobilisation of the policy, then there’s a problem.”

A food seller in Kubwa was disturbed about how the poor circulation of the notes would affect her business.

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“I go to the market everyday, and the old notes remain mostly in circulation. Since December 15, I had been paid with the new notes by only two customers. This is almost a month to the expiration of the old currency, and the money circulates poorly. It worries me,” she said.

Onyekpere: expresses worry over banks’ payment rationing

The Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, questioned the rationale behind payment rationing by banks at counters to depositors, even with the old notes.

Onyekpere saw a huge disconnect in the coordination of policies and programmes of the government, a situation he said had made the country rutherless under Buhari.

“Let’s look at the naira redesign: why are people still being largely paid with the old currency, despite the 31st January deadline? The new notes are still scarce and banks are rationing payments even with the old currency, as I witnessed in banks in Owerri,” he said.

Addressing the numerous concerns trailing the new notes, the Senate has urged the CBN to extend the expiration of the notes being rested  as legal tender from January 31 to June 30, 2023.

National Assembly seeks extension of 31st December deadline

The Senate’s resolution was sequel to a point of order raised during plenary on December 29 by Mohammed Ndume (APC-Borno).

Raising Orders 41 and 51 of the Senate Standing Rule, Ndume said that the call for extension of the date should be considered as a matter of urgent national importance “in order to forestall imminent hardship for Nigerians.”

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He said, “This senate notes that many Nigerian banks on Thursday, December 15, opened their vaults to customers and depositors to exchange their old currency for the newly redesigned currency, which has a stipulated deadline of January 31.

“Some Nigerians are already envisaging long queues in the banking hall across the country as a result of people trying to get access to the new naira note.”

The ICIR had reported on the possible dislocation of the economy by the currency redesign if the CBN insisted on the January 31 deadline. The publication cited lack of banking operations in many local government areas and wards across the country.

The ICIR contacted the Director of Corporate Communications at the CBN, Osita Mwanisobi, for his comments on the development, but he was yet to respond to its inquiries at the time of publishing this report.


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