The House of Representatives may be on a collision course with the Central Bank of Nigeria over the redesign of the naira notes and the January 31 deadline set for exchanging the old notes for the new ones.
An ad hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the shortage of the new naira at commercial banks on Wednesday frowned at the failure of senior bank managers to appear before it on Thursday.
This came just two months after CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele failed to appear before the House over issues relating to the naira redesign.
The House had called on the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (ret.), on Tuesday about the looming crisis caused by the January 31 deadline.
In addition to asking the CBN to extend the window for exchanging the old notes for a newly redesigned one by six months, the Chamber invited banks to a meeting on Wednesday about the shortage of new naira notes.
The managing directors/CEOs of the banks, under the auspices of the Bankers’ Committee, would meet with an ad hoc House committee to be chaired by Majority Leader Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
On Wednesday, the CBN did not appear before the committee.
However, Ado-Doguwa, at the committee’s inaugural inquiry hearing, stated: “By way of clarification, I want to say, without fear of contradicting myself, that parliament is always an institution that represents the Nigerian people. For an invitation to any government employee, as is the case here with the CBN, the governor of the CBN, his directors, deputy directors, all department heads, I believe, are employees of the Nigerian people; And when there is a kind of subpoena from the institution of parliament like this, we expect all rising employees to just respect that invitation.”
“In this regard, I would like to convey to this committee and to members of the public and press here with us that we have agreed to allow CBN officials to come tomorrow at 1 pm, so that we can engage them. And immediately after the commitment with them, we would hire the bank operators”.
Meanwhile, there was palpable discontent among bank customers in Lagos on Wednesday after some commercial banks closed their ATMs, apparently due to a shortage or unavailability of new naira notes.
The development came in the wake of threats by the Central Bank of Nigeria that it would penalize any bank that dispensed old naira notes at its ATMs.
When our correspondent visited four banks: Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa, Access Bank and Stanbic IBTC along Iju road in the Ogba area of Lagos State, it was observed that the bank’s ATMs were not dispensing or new naira notes nor the old ones.
Meanwhile, a myriad of disgruntled customers were seen lamenting the frustration of not being able to withdraw cash from any of the ATMs in the area.
Our correspondent proceeded to visit Zenith Bank, Access and UBA along the Ogunnusi road in the Ojodu axis of the state. The story was no different as a small crowd of frustrated customers were seen bemoaning their inability to withdraw cash.
While some of the banks cited technical difficulties due to their inability to dispense money through the machines, others said their ATMs had developed glitches and were temporarily unable to dispense cash.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, during an earlier visit to Zenith Bank in Iju Road, Ogba, our correspondent noted that the bank had started rationing the withdrawal of new banknotes by customers, as it prevented any individual from withdrawing more than N10. ,000 of the new notes.
Speaking to The PUNCH, an end-user support officer at Sterling Bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the bank was still loading old and new notes into its ATM due to the unavailability of the new naira notes. .
The source said that contrary to reports that the main bank had delivered enough new notes to commercial banks, the volume of new naira currently held by the banks was not enough to meet current demand.
The source said: “We were still paying old notes into our machines as of today. We are trying to remove all the old tickets we have at the moment, but the old tickets that were already in the machine were still dispensing today. Probably, from tomorrow, there will be no more old notes. Even the people who came today to withdraw at the counter were paid old bills.”
In addition, several ATMs visited in Ikeja did not dispense banknotes. Unconfirmed sources said the ATMs were not charged.