Lack of Naira notes shutdown the Nigerian economy

The Nigerian economy is almost at a standstill as millions of Nigerians find it difficult to access both the old and new Naira notes.

NigerianEye gathers that the lingering scarcity of both old and new naira notes has crippled economic activities nationwide and inflicted enormous pains on Nigerians, even as an aide to the President Muhammadu Buhari revealed that his principal was misled by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Ajuri Ngelale, in an interview monitored on TVC News, described as false the report by the CBN that it had supplied all bank branches in the country with sufficient amounts of the new notes.

Prior to the extension of the deadline for the exchange of old naira notes from January 31 to February 10, the President had defended the CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, for adopting unorthodox economic models that put people at the heart of the apex bank’s policies. “Because the governor follows a model outside of the economic orthodoxy, he is labelled political, but the orthodoxy has proved wrong time and again,” Buhari said.

Owing to the naira redesign and the renewed cashless policy of the CBN, the non-availability of both the old and newly designed naira notes at all channels, including banking halls, Automated Teller Machine points and Point of Sale terminal operators across the country, has subjected majority of Nigerians to serious hardship, with many finding it difficult to access cash to buy basic things or transport themselves from one place to the other.

In what many have described as unprecedented in the history of the country, Nigerians now pay exorbitant charges to get the naira notes from PoS operators. As of Saturday afternoon, in some parts of Lagos, N5,000 old notes attracted N1,000 commission while N6,000 new notes attracted as much as N2,000 commission.

In the interview however, Ngelale said, “They (Nigerians) feel that the Federal Government of Nigeria is unintentionally or intentionally impoverishing them overnight. That is the perception they have, whether it is right or wrong.

“What we are working to do is to ensure that Mr President is given effective and true information and that the report that was given by the CBN that they have supplied all bank branches in the country with sufficient amounts of the new naira notes is absolutely false and it is evidential at this point.

“Mr President, being the pro-people defender and defender of the masses that he has always been and an upholder of social justice, did the right thing when intelligence reached him that he was getting false intelligence from the CBN, which was to extend the deadline from January 31 to February 10.

“Now, clearly, with the adjustments in the deadline, it was also announced that other agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission are also actively involved in the oversight of the distribution of the new naira notes to banking branches across the country as well as rural areas with cash swops with the over 30,000 super agents that are being sent out.

“So, there is an extra level of oversight and monitoring that is being done now and added to the process.”

He said the President would defend the masses no matter whose ox is gored, adding that he wouldn’t be opposed to an extension if it became necessary.

He added, “If he gets any intelligence that during the length of this 10-day window that the wrong things have been done or the right things have not been done and that the new naira notes have not been distributed among the people, Mr President has that option on the table of extending that deadline and that will be left to his discretion. Certainly, it is going to be based on what he sees happening across the country in the course of these seven days.

“We are heartened by the new information we received from the CBN that now over-the-counter collections of the new naira notes will now be made available to banking customers.”

Even though the President on Friday asked for seven days to solve the naira scarcity, many Nigerians are apprehensive about the extent to which the crisis could have degenerated at the end of the seven days.

As protests and anger continue to spread across the country over the scarce naira notes, coupled with pockets of attacks on banks and their staff members by furious customers, bank workers have expressed concerns over their safety.

The President, National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institution Employees, Anthony Abakpa, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday said bankers were stressed due to the situation, noting that their work had become hectic.

He added, “Honestly, the situation is hectic, it is not a healthy environment at all. Even as a bank staff and an individual, the masses are angry because there is no cash available and their money is in the bank. The situation is worrisome.

“We will continue to engage and ensure that the safety of every individual working in the bank and insurance sector is upheld, and that is our demand.”

Similarly, the Association of Senior Staff of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions called on security agencies to ensure the safety and security of bank workers and property.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that ASSBIFI President, Mr Olusoji Oluwole, in a statement on Saturday condemned recent attacks on some financial institutions, saying such endanger the lives of bank workers.

Oluwole stated, “We strongly condemn this act which is borne out of the propaganda against banks as the sole cause of the inability of the public to have access to cash across the country. We have seen a few videos of bank branches allegedly hoarding cash in their vaults.

“While we do not hold brief for these isolated cases or condone any verified bad behaviour, we expect the same sources of these videos to also project the many locations that have continued to provide cash to customers or have empty vaults due to the unavailability of cash. Unfortunately, we do not deem it security conscious for us to share videos or pictures of our vaults with the public as professionals.”

He said bank workers had in the past few weeks worked tirelessly, every day for long hours against the prescribed work hours, noting that such sacrifice was to ensure customers were able to deposit their old currency notes and make the new ones available for withdrawals at Automated Teller Machines.

He added, “This exercise has taken its toll on their health, work-life balance, and families while being faced daily with the fear of physical assaults by irate customers. While we assure the public of our commitment to ensure their pain is ameliorated, we appeal for calm and understanding at this time as we call on the security agencies to ensure the safety and security of our lives and bank property.”

Following the violence and protests that erupted in states like Ondo, Oyo, Delta, Enugu and some other parts of the country, the Nigeria Police Force has urged citizens to eschew violence.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said, “We appeal to our people to be patient and eschew violence as the government and all relevant agencies and stakeholders are working on how to resolve this problem.

“We also urge bank customers affected by the naira scarcity to be patient, and those attacking bank facilities should desist from such. It is illegal. Nigerians should be patient and not resort to violence. No one asked people not to protest; they could have held their protests with decorum and maturity without resorting to violence or attacking a police station.”

He said the violence in Ibadan on Friday would have escalated but for the timely intervention of the police.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Saturday urged Nigerians not to vote for any candidate supporting the manner in which the currency redesign policy is being implemented.

Speaking at Opobo during the state chapter of the PDP’s campaign rally, he stated, “The primary target of this policy is to provoke Nigerians to embark on civil disturbance which they will capitalise on to say they cannot conduct election and push for enthronement of an interim government.

“No matter the provocation, I urge everyone to be calm. This election must hold because nothing will stop an Opobo man from becoming governor.” The governorship candidate of the PDP, Siminialayi Fubara, is from Opobo.

He also asked a former Minister of Transportation, Dr Abiye Sekibo, whom he had been at loggerheads with to explain why former President Olusegun Obasanjo sacked him from his cabinet.

The Governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum, has warned that any commercial bank that refuses to dispense the new naira notes will have its land revoked by the state government.

He issued the warning on Friday afternoon in Maiduguri, the state capital, after visiting some banks to assess the difficulties residents have while trying to access the new notes.

He stated, “Any bank in Borno State that is not willing to ensure their ATMs are fully dispensing new naira notes to ease the suffering of our people, we will withdraw their land title immediately.

“We will only spare banks with genuine constraints that are verifiable. The new naira note and even the old ones are not available and that is adversely affecting commercial activities in the state and people are suffering.”

Zulum said he was unhappy seeing hundreds of people queuing at a bank, with only one out of 10 ATMs dispensing cash. He lamented that the state government had just released salaries of about N5bn but the banks were not paying customers.

He stated, “We don’t have any problem with the CBN policy or the withdrawal limit, they said individuals can only withdraw N20,000, but why can’t everyone have access to that N20,000? Yesterday, I was in Gubio with a population of over 70,000 people but it was impossible to source N100,000 in the entire local government, either new or old notes.”

The governor had last week directed the state’s ministry of finance to fast-track the establishment of the branches of Borno’s existing microfinance bank across all the 27 LGAs.

No comments

Post a Comment

Kindly drop a comment below.
(Comments are moderated. Clean comments will be approved immediately)

Advert Enquires - Reach out to us at

© Copyright © 2023 | Your Online Nigerian Newspaper | All Rights Reserved