An estimated tens of billions of old naira notes remain in circulation and are predominantly the only means of conducting transactions in exchange for goods and services in many parts of the country.
This is just as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s January 31st deadline for phasing out the old currency is fast approaching. Late last year, the CBN introduced a redesigned currency for the 1000, 500 and 200 naira denominations and asked all holders of the old currency to deposit them in banks before January 31, 2023; which is now three days away.
The CBN has however been having a running battle with commercial banks over the unavailability of the new notes, accusing the banks of hoarding them. The apex bank has however not disclosed how much cash it has been able to print since it introduced the new currency and how much commercial banks have received.
CBN had also asked the banks to stop dispensing old notes from the Automated Teller Machines, while most bank branches, even in Lagos and the FCT, had drastically reduced the money loaded in ATMs because of the shortage of the new notes as of Friday. Some ATMs observed by our reporters had not dispensed for days.
The acute shortage of the new notes is however been felt mostly on the streets where commuters have been left stranded, markets are struggling to stay open while businesses are being forced to rely on electronic transactions.
Our correspondents were on the streets in major cities and report that the old notes in circulation are still more than the redesigned new notes, and yet are being rejected as a legal tender.
Old Notes Deadline: Banks To Open On Sunday
And with just three days to the deadline for old notes to cease to be legal tender in the country, commercial banks are opening up their branches today, Saturday, January 28 and tomorrow, Sunday, January 29 for customers to deposit old notes in their possession.
Although, the Central Bank of Nigeria had last year directed that banks open on Saturdays to allow customers ample time to deposit their old notes, only a few opened up their branches on Saturdays with some opening a few designated branches.
However, with the insistence of the apex bank that the January 31 deadline remains substantive, banks are opening all their branches for the whole of the weekend. Some banks had sent out messages to their customers urging those who still had old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes to make the deposit this weekend between 9am and 3pm this Saturday and Sunday. Amid complaints that there is scarcity of the new notes, traders had since Thursday begun to reject the old notes.
Also established businesses had requested that customers pay either with transfer, use the POS or pay with new notes. Similarly, informal businesses had resorted to accepting electronic payments for goods and services.
“The Okada (commercial motorcycle) I took today refused to collect cash from me” Obinna, a civil servant told LEADERSHIP Weekend. “It was strange but he insisted that I paty with transfer as he said he had no intention of going to deposit old notes in the bank.”
Similarly, a petty trader who also runs an agent banking centre, Mrs Ajoke said she stopped collecting the old notes on Friday afternoon as she had gone to make the last deposit in the bank. “The crowd in the banking hall was too much. I don’t think I want to do that again so I stopped collecting the old notes.”
A survey by LEADERSHIP Weekend around Lagos on Friday showed a large crowd in the banking halls, most of who were depositing cash. There were also long queues at the ATMs for those who wanted to make withdrawals and wanted the new notes.
FCT Residents Appeal For Extension, As Traders, Motorists Reject Old Notes
With barely three days to the CBN deadline on the validity of old naira notes, residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are appealing to the federal government to extend the deadline for the new naira policy, as most traders and motorists have started rejecting the old naira notes.
It was observed that most residents in the territory are presently confused about how to get the new naira notes which they said has been difficult to get, following reports of hoarding of the new notes by commercial banks.
Following the rejection of the old naira notes, LEADERSHIP Weekend witnessed an incident in Dutse Alhaji market yesterday, where a woman, who simply identified herself as Mrs Donald, bought foodstuff to take home to feed her family, but when she paid the trader, the seller rejected the money, saying that it is no longer a legal tender.
The woman angrily dropped the money on the table for the trader after telling her that Tuesday, January 31, is the deadline, saying that she had no other money and that she cannot afford to let her children stay hungry, which did not go down well with the trader who angrily ran after her to collect her wares back from the woman.
“The issue of this money is becoming embarrassing because you have your money but cannot spend it on what your need. I went to where I bank in Dutse but the cashiers refused to change the money I took there, with the excuse that they do not have enough of the new notes. This is wrong and should be corrected,” she said angrily and left.
Also, it was observed that on most major roads in the FCT, passengers were seen stranded, not because there were no vehicles to take them to their destinations or because they do not have money on them, but because commercial drivers were rejecting old naira notes from them.
One of the stranded passengers along Kubwa expressway, Mr Ephraim Chukwuebuka, said that most of the passengers spent hours on the road pleading with motorists to accept the old notes from them because the deadline is Tuesday but that they bluntly refused.
“The whole thing is not funny at all. With the way things are going, there is no way I will go to work until I get the new naira notes which are presently like gold in Abuja because there is no way I can trek to the town where I work.
“The federal government should look into this new naira policy because it is now obvious that it is the poor masses that are suffering from it. When we go to the bank to change money, they will say that the new notes are not enough to circulate. So, how are we going to survive this?” he queried.
Another stranded passenger, Ms Cynthia Oluwole, appealed that if the new naira notes printed are not enough to circulate for public use, there is a need for the CBN and the federal government to extend the deadline until more new naira notes are in circulation.
“I do not want to believe that the banks are hoarding the new naira notes for their selfish reasons, or probably some rich and powerful Nigerians have collected their massive share of the money while they leave the poor Nigerians to suffer because of the policy.
“The CBN and the federal government should review the deadline and extend it so that many people will not die of hunger. Because since people have started rejecting the old naira notes, and it is difficult to get the money, that means the poor Nigerians are in trouble,” she said.
Hotels, Traders, POS Operators Reject Old Notes In Yobe
Yobe state residents have decried the rejection and non-availability of the redesigned N1000, N500 and N200 notes by traders and Point of Sales (POS) operators across the state.
Some of the residents who spoke with our correspondent said “it is unfortunate, that traders have started rejecting the old Naira notes even before the January, 31, 2023. Now, I wanted to buy some foodstuff but couldn’t due to lack of the new notes.”
A bank customer, Bukar Baba said “I was at the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) point, but only few machines were dispensing the new notes with long queues while others are still dispensing the old notes. Even the banking hall was filled to capacity as many people were trying to deposit their money ahead of the January 31 deadline.”
Another resident, Abubakar Musa said, “we don’t know what to do. The old currency is scarce and people have started rejecting the old ones. Except fuel stations, most of the traders have stopped collecting the old notes,” he said.
A trader, Mansir Ali said “yes, we have started rejecting the old notes because, we have only few days to the deadline and there are long queues in the banks. So, there is no way we can deposit our cash before the deadline.
“We, too, are in dilemma because if you go to buy goods, the dealers are rejecting the old notes. I don’t have many goods but due to scarcity of the new notes, I can’t buy goods that I don’t have.”
Naira Redesign: Traders, Businesses Rejecting Old Notes
A hotel manager who would not want his name mentioned told our correspondent that, “As I’m speaking with you, we are no longer collecting old notes because if we collect old notes, it will become difficult to deposit them before the deadline and the cash will become useless for us. So, we are accepting bank transfers.
A POS operator, Alhaji Musa said “yes we don’t want to collect old Naira notes because people have stopped collecting it from us and when we get to the bank, there are long queues and even at that, the new notes are difficult to get.”
Frustration In Edo
Anger and frustration best described the feelings of most banks’ customers and other Edo residents following the inability of financial institutions in the state to make available the new naira notes.
Some operators of POS are also not left out as most customers are refusing the old naira notes.
However, some commercial bus drivers popularly known as tuke-tuke still collect the old naira notes from commuters.
A POS operator who spoke with LEADERSHIP weekend, Ighodalo Festus appealed to the apex bank to extend the deadline on the collection of old notes.
“Government should do something about this deadline on old notes. This thing is killing our business. People don’t want to collect the old from us anymore and the banks are not giving us the new notes.
“I have close to N800,000 in my bag but can’t get new notes from the banks and people are rejecting it due to the 31st deadline, government must do something about it.”
Customers Panic Over New Currency Swap As CBN Gives Options
As bank customers besiege commercials banks in Delta State to beat the deadline for cash swap of new naira notes, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has advised that it should not result to panic and apprehension.
In Delta state, there is rush associated with the exchange of old naira notes with old ones amid CBN’s January 31 deadline.
Across the length and breadth of Asaba, it’s a dirge of agonies, woes, dilemma and confusion and frustration from commercial banks over the new naira notes debacle.
Traders are now skeptical and apprehensive on whether to continue their business transactions with the old naira notes or not. They are simply confused on how to handle the issue whether to stop transacting business with the old notes when they don’t have access to the new ones.
Gift Onaiye who sells crayfish, shrimps and other seafoods for customers said she was surprised to discover that the withdrawal she was to make was to be paid in the old naira notes!
A taxi driver at Koka motor park, Mr John Ohis had in his possession no fewer than N5,000 notes. He confessed to be in love with the new notes saying, “since the old naira notes were redesigned, I have never seen the new naira notes physically with my eyes. I only saw them online. Thus, I’m still using the old naira notes.
“I don’t have the new naira notes as none of my customers have paid me with them. So, how can I stop using the ones I have? I can’t just carry all my money to bank and be waiting for them to give me new notes. What will I use to buy my personal needs if by Monday, the deadline comes? I don’t know what to do.”
A POS operator, Mrs Theresa said she went to a bank on Friday to deposit all her old currencies in exchange for new ones but she was only able to return home with few new N200 notes in the midst of plenty old naira notes.
She expressed her dilemma: “I only have three 200 hundred naira notes of the new currency which I have kept aside. When I went to bank today to deposit all my money thinking if I withdrew some, they would give me new currency notes, it was still the old currency notes.”
But the director, Banking Services, CBN, Abuja Mr Sam Okejere and the CBN branch controller, Delta State, Mr Godwin Okafor, allayed the fears of the masses, saying there are several payment methods.
During a sensitisation programme on cash swap and facilitation of the circulation of its new naira notes, Mr Okafor mentioned some of the payments to include instant payment, online transfers, bank verification number (BVN), debit/credit cards, international bank transfer, among others.
While saying that the cash swap programme is in partnership with super agents and deposit money banks (DMBs) at different parts of the country, “The agent shall exchange a maximum of N10,000 per person. Amounts above N10,000 may be treated as cash-in deposit into wallets or bank accounts in line with the cashless policy. BVN, NIN, or Voter’s card details of the customers should be captured as much as possible.
“To promote financial inclusion, this service is also available to anybody without a bank account. Agents may, on request, instantly open a wallet or account, leveraging the CBN Tiered KYC Framework. This will ensure that this category of the populace are able to exchange or deposit their cash seamlessly without taking unnecessary risk or incurring undue cost.”
They said the super agents refer to companies licensed by the CBN to recruit for the purpose of agency banking and will sensitise customers on opening wallets, bank accounts and the various channels for conducting electronic transactions.
“Designated agents are eligible to collect the redesigned notes from DMBs in line with the revised cash withdrawal limit policy. Agents are also permitted to charge cash-out fees for the cash swap transactions but prohibited from charging any further commissions to customers for this service,” Okafor said.
While revealing principals (super agents, MMOs, DMBs) shall be held accountable for their agents’ adherence to the above guidelines, they said these agents will render weekly returns to their designated banks regarding the cash swap transactions while the banks shall in turn render the same to the CBN on a weekly basis.
The exercise was performed on Friday in Asaba, lllah, lbusa, Ogwashi-Uku, in Oshimili South, Oshimili North and Aniocha South local government areas of the state.
A’Ibom Residents Groan Over Poor Circulation Of New Notes
Transporters plying inter and intra-state routes in Akwa Ibom State have expressed dismay at the new currency regime, lamenting that it has come to compound the already tense atmosphere chocked by the prevailing fuel crises with a litre being sold for N400 in the state.
Commuters were stranded in parks and some major bus stops in the capital, Uyo, as most bus operators refused to collect the old notes as transport fares to different locations in and outside the state, blaming the new monetary policy and the January 31 deadline for the three naira denominations (N200, N500 and N1,000) to cease to exist as legal tenders.
“We don’t have the time to leave our work to go and queue at the bank to deposit the old notes because the banks are already overcrowded with the approaching deadline,” a mini-bus driver plying Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road, Udo Ekanem explained.
“I already have a lot of old notes piled up and I had to tell my wife and children to help me go and bank them, but some of them returned without depositing the cash,” he added.
Calling on government and the National Assembly to intervene by impressing it on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, to extend the deadline, a commuter, Effiong Inyang lamented that “today, I could not board a bus to Eket because the driver pointedly told me it’s either the new notes or perish the thought of joining my bus.
“As it’s now, if the CBN cannot yield to the voices of reason to extend the deadline, most of my reserves at home running into about N250,000 that my wife gave to store in our joint account, I can’t bank them because of my job routine as a permanent cook to a politician.”
In the same vein, a commuter, Anietie Ukpong lamented that “the situation could create crises of hunger in the land if you have the money and it’s difficult to spend or bank it.
“I was stranded yesterday traveling from Uyo to Eket. The driver suddenly stopped midway to demand for fares, but was disappointed when nearly every passenger thrusted the old notes. He rejected them and offered to coney only those with the new notes to their destination in Eket.”
Bauchi POS Operators Increase Charges For Transactions In Old Notes
Less than four days to the deadline for the redesigned naira by the CBN, some Point-of-Sale (POS) operators in Bauchi State who are still using the old currencies have increased charges for transactions in the old banknotes.
A check by LEADERSHIP Weekend showed that the operators increased deposit charges by about 50 per cent.
The operators are now charging between N150 and N200 for N5,000 and N10,000 deposits as against N100, while others simply refused transactions in the old naira notes.
A POS operator, Mrs Grace Simon said she rejected the old naira notes because it was difficult for her to deposit it in the banks due to long queues.
“There is a multitude of customers in the banks, you have to spend several hours in the queue to deposit the old naira notes.
“Honestly, I don’t have the strength, and that is why some of us increased charges for old naira notes.
“The charge for a transaction in the new banknotes still remains the same,” she said.
On the other hand, some Okada riders in Bauchi are rejecting the old naira notes, insisting that passengers must give them the new notes for their services.
Musa Imran, 26, who rides Okada in Bauchi metropolis, said he insists on cash transfers from his customers.
“At the moment, I accept cash transfers into my account after rendering a service to a customer.
“I cannot afford to be accepting old naira notes when I know if I took it to a bank, it is a hellish wahala to deposit the money into my account before the 31st January deadline.
Scarcity Of New Notes Hits Imo
The exchange of the old naira notes for the new notes appears to have created tension and anxiety among the populace in Imo State.
A POS operator, Uche Uwakwe expressed astonishment in respect of what he is passing through in the process.
According to him, the new notes are not readily available. He narrated that all efforts to obtain the new notes from the banks to satisfy his customers proved abortive.
He stressed that the ATMs are empty and those dispensing still dispense the old notes, submitting that he may likely stop operation until the situation normalises.
Nwakwe revealed that over 30 percent of cash outlay with him are of the old notes and intends to pay into his account waiting for further details.
A transporter, Chima Ibezim, expressed dismay in respect of the hardship he is passing through, according to him, the new notes are not in full circulation as commuters still pay with the old notes.
He appealed to the Federal Government to extend the deadline so as to save the citizenry from further sufferings and untold hardship. He urged the CBN to make available the new notes in larger quantities.
New Currency Shortage In Yobe As Traders, POS Reject Old Notes
As the dateline for the naira notes swap draws nearer, people in Yobe State have continued to express concern over the shortage of the new currency while traders as well as Point of Sale (POS) operators have started rejecting old one thousand, five hundred and two hundred naira notes, LEADERSHIP Weekend can report.
Many traders who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend said they have stopped collecting the old naira notes while others resolved to stop collecting this weekend.
A visit by LEADERSHIP Weekend to many POS operators in Damaturu, the state capital, revealed that many are rejecting the old naira notes while few others still collect it.
Filling stations, taxi and tricycle operators in Damaturu also collect the old naira notes while artisans such as shoe menders popularly called “shoe shiners”, among others, exhibit different opinions on the collection.
“I collect the old notes because our ogas said they don’t have problem till on Sunday but, many artisans that we roam about together in the town, reject the old notes,” a cola nut seller, Mohammed Nura said.
In another development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has dispatched agents to local governments especially those without bank branches.
Governor Buni had in a statement issued by his director-general on Press Affairs and Media, Mamman Mohammed sought the extension to the deadline as only 4 out of the 17 LGAs have banks.
Commercial Activities Paralysed In Jigawa
Commercial Activities have been paralysed in Jigawa State as people spend days on cues to withdraw money from ATM while old notes are been rejected ahead of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) deadline.
Local markets, traders, food vendors as well as other small and medium business are virtually shut down which has consequently thrown families into untold hardship.
Going round the state, people seemed confused as new notes were difficult to get to meet their family needs while many lamented how the CBN policy is unfriendly to rural communities.
A trader in grains, Bashir Maidaura narrated how he kept going to an ATM point for two days to get money for buying grains at local markets as old Naira notes are no longer accepted there.
“I have been joining the queue for two days but I was only able to get N100,000, while I need N2 million as usual to go to Soro market in Bauchi State to buy rice from local farmers.
“My account is an individual account and the withdraw limit cannot give me access to the amount I needed while my business partners (local farmers) have no bank account and literacy to accept transfer. So, we are all in unprecedented dilemma,” Maidaura lamented.
Saifullahi Ibrahim of Kudai town Dutse local government who was found standing frustrated on a queue at an ATM point said he was very exhausted as he spent more than 12 hours without getting the new note to feed his children.
“This CBN policy is very disgusting, unfriendly and unfair to us the electorate who voted this government into power.
“The new Naira notes are not even available; I don’t have it. For three days now, I can’t feed my children let alone paying their daily transportation fair to school. Please, Baba Buhari, we beg you in the name of God to reconsider the extension of the deadline for the old notes,” Saifullahi pleaded.
Mustapha Sulaiman of Kuma town Buji local government revealed that, there was no single CBN or any commercial bank agent providing the people with new notes in exchanging with old notes.
“Please, we in villages lack access to the new notes. Life is becoming very unbelievable for us as the old notes are rejected. We are calling on the CBN governor to extend the deadline to avoid total breakdown of law and order in our society. The security situation is already very alarming,” Mustapha stated.
For a rural woman, Hajiya Talatu who is also an APC woman leader in Dangayami village, Taura local government, “the old Naira notes deadline must be reviewed without further delay to rescue the situation.
“We are politicians. This policy has potent negative impact on our campaigns.
Please Baba Buhari and the CBN governor should look into our future and the difficulty our rural people are facing. Extend the deadline and increase the withdraw limit for the sake of God,” Talatu called.
Ilorin Residents Groan As Traders Reject Old Naira Notes
Residents of Ilorin, Kwara State are going through difficult times due to the twin-problem of acute fuel scarcity and rejection of old naira notes by petty traders.
Commercial drivers, including motorcyclists and tricyclists, have hiked transport fares as only a few filling stations that dispensed fuel as at the time of filing this report now sell a litre of petroleum at N350.
The hike notwithstanding, there were long queues at the filling stations.
Black marketers were making brisk business as they sell a litre of petroleum for as high as N500.
Most poor residents were also starving because of the rejection of the old naira notes by food sellers.
LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that food vendors, especially in the downtown in Ilorin were insisting on collecting new naira notes or N100, N50 and N20 notes.
Three residents of Okelele, Alagbado and Oja-Oba area of Ilorin, Alh Mubaraq Salahu, Raheem Onibembe and Alhaja Adenike Khadija confirmed the rejection of the old naira notes by food vendors and marketers.
Worse still, the commercial banks were still paying their customers with the old naira notes.
A bank customer, Alh Umaru Yerro said:”I was at a bank at Taiwo Road, Ilorin this morning (Friday) to withdraw money. The bankers offered me the old naira notes which I rejected. Apparently, they didn’t have new naira notes. I left the bank dejected.”
A seller of beans cakes popularly called akara, Alhaja Salamat AbdulGaniyu said, “I cannot take the old naira notes again from my customers as the January 31 deadline is fast approaching. I don’t want to be caught unawares.”
On the rise in transport fares, transporters blamed the hike on astronomical increase in the price of petroleum and the man-hour spent at the filling stations queuing to buy fuel.
Shortage Of New Naira Notes: Kebbi Traders To Close Market
A group of traders in central market and other places in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State capital have threatened to close their shops due to the constant shortage of the new naira notes in banks across the state.
Chairman of the traders association of the state, Umaru Danguwa Gwadangaji who lamented the development during an interview with journalists yesterday said there is no option other than for all traders in the state to close their shops since there is no availability of the new notes in the banks not to talk of customers.
Gwadangaji added that some people have started rejecting the old notes due to the deadline which would elapse on Tuesday.
He called on the federal government and the national assembly members to quickly intervene before the worst happens.
When LEADERSHIP weekend visited some ATMs at UBA, Unity, Zenith and Access banks along Ahmadu Bello Way in the state capital, customers were on long queues waiting for the management of the banks to put new notes in their ATMs.
Our Correspondent gathered from some customers that most of them were at the banks from as early as 5:30am till midnight.
Benue: Banks Still Dispensing Old Naira Notes
In Benue State, most banks are still dispensing old Naira notes to their customers, even at the ATM points.
In an interview, one of the customers who vowed to return the old notes he withdrew from the ATM in one of the banks in Makurdi metropolis, appealed to the CBN to extend the time for the usage of the old Naira notes since the new notes are limited in circulation.
Our correspondent who went round to monitor some of the banks observed that most banks were overcrowded because customers who came to withdraw money were rejecting the old notes.
In an interview, one of the bank staff who pleaded anonymity said for over three days now, their bank is yet to get the new Naira notes from the CBN. So, they were dispensing what they had – old notes – to customers.
He said, “We don’t know what is really the problem but most of the commercial banks including ours, since the beginning of this week, are yet to get the new Naira notes from the CBN and our customers are rejecting the old ones.”
A POS operator who did not want her name in print informed that instead of collecting 10 per cent for every amount deposited or withdrawn, they were collecting 20 per cent for anyone that is collecting new notes and 10 percent for new notes.