Some residents of Anambra have decried the unavailability of the new naira notes in many banks in the state, barely one month after the reintroduction of old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes.
Some of them told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka on Monday that they hardly complete transactions with new naira notes because they were not available.
This is even after the old currencies had been mopped up from circulation by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and unavailable for use by citizens for about two months before they were officially pumped into the system on Dec. 15, 2022.
The residents said it was surprising that they had to return to and rely on the reintroduced old notes because the new notes which were to replace them were not in circulation.
NAN Correspondent who monitored the situation reports that cash transactions were largely done with old notes.
Mr James Nnaeto said that he had not been able to withdraw as low as N5,000 new notes from any bank but had regularly been paid in old notes since banks resumed disbursing them.
Nnaeto said he had noticed sudden disappearance of the new notes following the reintroduction of the new notes in March.
According to him, we are back to our normal lives, thank God for the return of the old notes.
“Apart from when I used old notes to buy new ones and when I paid high charges to get them, I have not seen them again, even the banks are not issuing them.
“The CBN is not prepared for that Policy because there is nothing that suggests that they were ready to replace the old currency notes with new ones,” he said.
Mrs Angela Molokwu, a trader, said she was almost going out of business because of lack of cash.
Molokwu said business was gradually regaining stability since the reintroduction of the old notes which had made transactions easy.
She said she had to resort to Point of Sale (PoS) operator services which had its challenges including delayed and failed transactions but pointed out that such services did not make for easy retail sale transactions.
“Thank God cash is back, people now use cash to buy what they want but it is with the old notes, I am not seeing the new notes as it should be.
“If I go to bank for withdrawal, it is the old naira notes they pay me with,” she said
On his part, Mr Osita Obi, Convener of Recovery Nigeria Project (RNP), a Civil Society group, said the country’s economy would have grinded to a halt if the old currency notes were not returned to circulation.
Obi, who said the ratio of new notes to old ones in circulation was around 25 :75, regretted that in spite of the assurances of the CBN that it had printed sufficient quantity of the redesigned notes, Nigerians could not use them freely five months after.
According to him, CBN is not ready; they have a lot of explanations to make to Nigerians.
“Where are the new notes they said they printed, how come we have the old notes which were withdrawn and reintroduced more in circulation now?
“The policy somersault was to much for Nigerians, it was unnecessary; what it means is that Nigerians would have been stranded by now if the old notes were not returned, so why were they returned in the first place?
“Government should not be taking citizens for a ride,” he said.
Prof. Uche Nwogwugwu of the Department of Economics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka said the CBN naira redesign policy could not be described as economic because it was not planned nor did the outcome result in improved welfare of citizens.
Nwogwugwu opined that it was more of political considerations which the Apex Bank and the Federal Government should also consider the outcome and weigh if it justified the hardship citizens passed through.
He said rather than shrinking the economy, the CBN should expand liquidity or cash in circulation to accommodate increased demands due to increase in number and volume of businesses and population.
The economist said the Dec. 31 deadline for complete phasing out of the old naira notes may not be achievable if the attitude adopted for implementation of the policy five months after the introduction was sustained.
“I still cannot tell the reason for that policy, only the CBN can do that, but all I can say is that it is not economic, if it was, it should have been well planned and the outcome cannot be hardship, so it must have been political.
“Money in circulation can never be enough, our economy is growing, so people need more money to transact.
”The currency redesign Policy almost killed the economy, the informal economy almost went into extinction and after all that, we are back to where we were.
“The new notes are no where to be found, we have more of old currency today, people are worse off and the way things are going, it is unlikely that the Dec. 31 deadline will be met,” he said.