By Lydia Ngwakwe
Barely four days to the expiration of the old naira notes deadline, many Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in major parts of Lagos do not dispense either the old notes or the new naira notes, leaving customers stranded.
The situation is further compounded by the fact that traders are also rejecting the old notes, asking consumers to pay with new notes.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has fixed Jan. 31 as the deadline for the use of the old naira notes.
The new naira notes comprising N200, N500 and N1,000 became a legal tender on Dec. 15, 2022 after they were unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 23, 2022 in Abuja.
Some of the ATMs monitored in Ikotun, Ejigbo, Egbeda, Surulere and Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos were not dispensing either the old or new naira notes.
Some of the banks in Surulere, Oyingbo, Ojota areas still dispensing old notes witnessed rejection with the customers depositing back the money.
Mr Michael Adejumobi, a software engineer, told NAN that the banks were frustrating people by not loading the new redesigned notes in the ATMs.
“The suffering in this country is too much; why is the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) phasing out old notes without proper provision for people to have the new ones?
“Now, the banks are not even dispensing any of the notes, whether old or new.
“This is so frustrating. I have been running around banks looking for these new notes because the market women have also started rejecting the old notes,” he said.
At Ikotun market, traders also rejected the old notes leaving consumers in frustration.
The traders ask buyers to pay with new notes or use Point of Sale (PoS) machines to carry out payment which is done at a fee.
Miss Happiness Okpara, a PoS operator, told NAN that she had no new notes to service her customers because she was paid with the old notes.
“I went to the bank this morning with the hope that since the time for the deadline is near, that I would have new notes at hand to pay people.
“I was surprised when I asked for N100,000, what was given to me were old notes. I collected them because I needed to do my business,” Okpara said.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, during a sensitisation programme at Computer Village, Ikeja, said the new notes were lying in the apex bank’s vaults waiting for commercial banks to come and pick them.
Emefiele, represented at the event by Mr Kofo Salam-Alada, Director, Legal Services Department, said the apex bank had been calling upon commercial banks to approach its branches across the country to pick up the new notes.
He also said that the apex bank had even waived some of the conditionalities for accessing currency notes in order to accommodate the banks.
“The banks were being given slots, but now the CBN is bending backward to accommodate the demands of the banks in order to service them so that they can service customers for easy access to the new naira notes,” he said.
NAN also recalls that in one of the CBN’s monitoring tour to commercial banks in Epe, the banks complained that logistics of going to bring the new notes from its financial hub on the Island was the reason they had no new notes.
The CBN has insisted that the Jan. 31 deadline remains sacrosanct.(NAN)