Seventeen days after the launch of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), millions of Nigerians have not physically seen or transacted with the notes.
Many who spoke to the Daily Trust in Abuja, Kano and Lagos are concerned about the shortage of the new notes, especially at bank ATM points.
This concern comes less than 28 days away from the January 31 deadline CBN has set for the phase-out of old naira notes.
The CBN unveiled the redesigned notes on December 15, 2022, saying they were part of measures to control inflation, clean currency out of the banking system, fight corruption, and discourage paying large amounts of cash to kidnappers. and bandits, among others.
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Checks at ATMs in Lagos indicated that old notes are still being dispensed.
Customers who visited bank rooms before the holiday also revealed that they were issued the old notes. One of them, Miss Iyunade Phillip, said: “I was given old notes at the bank on Thursday, December 29. New banknotes are very rare. I’m not sure they can meet the January 31 deadline because the notes are not available.”
Some bank workers were heard from in Ojo, Ikeja and Agbara in Lagos and Ogun claims they have not been issued new notes while others said the CBN was rationing new notes.
“We don’t have any new notes and we haven’t issued any in the last week because CBN hasn’t issued us any since the last one was disbursed,” said an Access Bank staff member at GRA Ikeja.
A point of sale (POS) operator in the Ogba area of Lagos, Ms. Zainab Ajibade, said she was still collecting the old notes as the new ones are hardly available. She said that the banks are still issuing them the old notes.
“We are still issued the old notes and in some cases if you are lucky you can get N2,000 in new notes if you withdraw N50,000 or N100,000 depending on availability,” he said. .
It was also observed that most of the cash-paying customers in malls and stores during the festive period used the old banknotes.
Street vendors do a good business
However, the Daily Trust concluded that currency peddlers are benefiting from the few redesigned notes in circulation.
In some areas they charged up to N10,000 on a package.
A bundle of new N200 bills which is N20,000 sells for N30,000 while N500 and N1,000 which are N50,000 and N100,000 sell for N60,000 and N110,000 respectively.
A currency peddler who spoke on condition of anonymity said the charges are his profit.
“There are very few new banknotes on the market. It was a difficult task to get them during the festive period. We would have made huge profits if they were available. We also paid for the few new tickets we received, so we have to put the charges down,” he said, noting that they were unable to meet the demand of their customers who wanted the new tickets for the New Year celebration.
Some of the banks visited by our reporter in Abuja showed that the new naira notes had not yet been deposited into the ATMs.
Although GTBank in Jabi had seven ATMs in its vicinity, not all of them dispensed the new naira notes.
When our reporter visited the bank yesterday, a security guard said that the machines had not yet been loaded with the new notes.
A bank customer, Danladi Isah, who withdrew from one of the machines, said he was not concerned about the type of money available.
He said that since the old coins were still legal tender, he was not worried that he would spend the notes he collected before the CBN policy went into effect.
Another customer, Philip Abu, said it was difficult at the bank he visited as everyone was asking for the new notes. “What they did was give a portion of the N1,000 notes to everyone who made withdrawals; we even asked for the N500 ticket but they said it was sold out.”
The situation was the same at Zenith Bank in Jabi as people who withdrew from the machines were observed leaving with old N1,000 notes.
While a security guard confirmed that, a user of the machine, Paul Obinna, said that since the old notes could still be used for transactions, he had nothing to fear as few funds were ever withdrawn.
“The people who need to worry about the new banknotes are those who make large transactions. For me, if I am to withdraw N50,000, all in old notes, I will spend them before the deadline comes into effect,” he said.
However, some bank customers said that shortly after the December 15 launch date, some banks issued pieces of the new notes.
Halima Musa, a customer at Jaiz Bank in Gwarinpa, Abuja, said: “I went to withdraw N50,000 from the bank and they added only two pieces of the new N1,000 note to it.”
The shortage of the new banknotes was also being felt in Kano. Some residents who use ATMs frequently said they weren’t handing out the new bills yet.
Similarly, PoS sponsors and operators expressed similar views.
Audun Ghali is a vendor at the popular Singer Food Market and said: “I went to the ATM almost 10 times since the new notes were launched, but still I couldn’t dispense a single N500 note of the new money.
“The only place you can get money is at the bank when you withdraw a large amount. Even that is only if you are on good terms with the bankers,” Ghali revealed.
Nazifi Sani, another resident, said he withdrew N70,000 from the ATM in the early hours of Monday morning, but they were all old bills.
“Actually, they gave me new bills but it’s the old version, not the new ones.”
Alhaji Nuhu Danliti, also a seller, said that the last time he withdrew money from the bank, he got about two percent of the total money in new notes. He also said that his friend received N300,000 when he withdrew N1 million from the bank.
“I used to do a lot of transactions as a trader, but once I got the money from the bank. For ATMs, it’s not even there. I have never seen anyone get the new naira notes from there. I withdrew N500,000 from the bank and they gave me 2%. My friend also got N300,000 of N1 million. That was the only time I got the new naira notes. And to tell the truth, they are not qualitative. Some people are even rejecting it,” he said.
Jibrin Aminu, who runs a business center that includes a point-of-sale machine, said he only saw the new naira notes once and that they were brought by a customer who sent money to relatives.
He said that although he receives and sends money, he does not receive the new bills from the bank or from the people who come to transfer.
‘The January phase-out is sacrosanct’
The CBN had assured last week in a circular that “The current N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes will circulate alongside the redesigned banknotes until January 31, 2023, when the current banknotes will be withdrawn from circulation and will cease to be legal. . bidding.
“Current banknotes remain legal tender until January 31 and should not be rejected as a means of exchange for the purchase of goods and services.”
CBN also emphasized that there will be no extension after the January 31, 2023 deadline. It read: “There will be no extension, so citizens are advised to make sure to deposit all N200, N500 and N1,000 notes in your possession before the deadline of January 31, 2023”.
On 22 December 2022, CBN Deputy Governor Aisha Ahmad, while briefing the House of Representatives on the redesigned naira on behalf of Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, said that the bank ordered 500 million mint notes.
However, he did not say how much those notes were worth.
“I can’t share that right now, just because I want to give a precise number,” Ahmad responded to questions from lawmakers.
Efforts to obtain new information from CBN were unsuccessful as the spokesperson, Osita Nwanisobi, did not respond to inquiries made to him yesterday, likely due to the public holiday.
By Simon E. Sunday, Faruk Shuaibu, Philip S. Clement (Abuja), Abiodun Alade, Eugene Agha (Lagos) and Zahraddeen Y. Shuaibu (Kano)