Confusion, uncertainty in Nigeria as supermarkets, traders, petrol stations reject old naira notes


Nigerians have urged the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, address the nation in a nationwide national broadcast on the suspension of the deadline for the old naira note swap.

On Saturday, residents of Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, who spoke to journalists in separate interviews, said the appeal became imperative due to the rejection of the old naira notes by traders and petrol stations across the state.

The residents who expressed worry about the development noted that the refusal by the business community in Abakaliki amounted to a contravention of the recent Supreme Court ruling suspending the February 10 deadline issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Lawrence Onwe, a lawyer, said Nigerians deserved to know from the government the actual position of the naira swap to avoid the confusion, chaos, and panic the development has generated since the deadline elapsed on Friday.

“People are confused; there was a sudden stop by traders, filling stations, transporters, and even most of the corporate business entities in the metropolis.

“I was at the filling station yesterday to fill my car, but when I offered the petrol pump attendant an old naira currency of N1,000 bill, she flatly rejected it, saying that they were instructed not to accept old naira notes again.

“There is an urgent need for the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Information, Ministry of Finance, or the CBN, to address the nation to stem the panic,” he said.

Silas Nkpuma, a civil servant, said he almost got into a physical brawl with a commercial motorcyclist (Okada rider), who insisted on being paid with a new naira note.

“I hadn’t any new naira notes on me, and the man refused a mobile transfer, and I was held hostage by the cyclist until a good Samaritan intervened and bailed me out.

“The rejection stemmed from apparent ignorance, and what is more worrisome is that the filling stations and big business organisations started rejecting the old money yesterday,” Mr Nkpuma said.

Chika Iteshi, a foodstuff dealer at the Ophoke-Abba, Kpiri-Kpiri Market within the state capital city, said she stopped collecting the old naira because ‘Okada and Keke riders’ refused to collect it.

“Yes, they said that the Supreme Court suspended the deadline, but we know that the federal government hardly obeys a court order that doesn’t favour it, so, If I hear that government has publicly said we should go ahead and collect, I will do that,” Ms Iteshi said.

She lamented that the business and other commercial activities in the city had been brought to a standstill due to a lack of new naira notes in circulation.

“Government should make the new notes available to Nigerians to end the agony and sufferings of the ordinary people of this country,” she added.

The CBN had earlier announced January 31 deadline when the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes would replace the old bills and hence would cease being legal tender, but the apex bank further extended the date to February 10.

However, the Supreme Court ruling in an exparte application brought against the federal government by three states government suspended the February 10 deadline.

The Council of State had advised the CBN to allow the new and old naira notes to co-circulate to ease the pains and sufferings of Nigerians. 


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