There is a scarcity of the naira notes across the country despite the announcement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the old naira notes are still considered legal tender.
Recall that the CBN had affirmed that it has enough currency notes in the market and, hence, no need for panic withdrawals by members of the public.
The apex bank announced plans to extend the validity of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes indefinitely. The bank noted that it was working with relevant authorities to vacate the subsisting court ruling on the same subject.
On Wednesday, CBN filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking an extension for old naira notes to remain in circulation.
But a report by The PUNCH confirmed scarcity in some parts of Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Kwara, Gombe, Edo, Sokoto, and Ekiti States.
Visits to some banks on Wednesday revealed scanty banking halls and ATM galleries due to the scarcity of old and new Naira notes.
A customer, who gave his name as Ganiyu Tunde, at the Union Bank branch along Oshodi Expressway in Lagos claimed that banks were only dispensing N5,000 via ATMs to non-customers.
Bank customers of Union Bank were, however, able to get up to N20,000 at the ATM and inside the bank. The rows of ATMs at an Access Bank branch nearby were empty because there was no cash in them as of the time of filing this report. A banker who spoke to The PUNCH on the condition of anonymity blamed the cash scarcity on weak supply from the CBN.
The banker said, “It is the CBN that is responsible for this cash scarcity. We are not getting enough from them. They are just causing unnecessary suffering for the masses.”
A bank teller who works with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in their Palmgrove Branch, Lagos, affirmed to The PUNCH that customers cannot withdraw more than N20,000.00 across the counter. According to the teller, the bank was experiencing a shortage of cash.
In the Federal Capital Territory, one Festus Okoromadu expressed concern that he could not withdraw at the First Bank branches in his area.
He said, “What I was told was that the bank’s network was temporarily unavailable, which made the transaction impossible. This has been the case at some of the banks in the FCT in recent times. Withdrawing money is becoming more challenging.”
In Kano, some commercial banks were not honouring customer withdrawal requests, and ATM galleries were dry.
Investigation further showed that the few banks that were paying customers did not give beyond specific amounts.
A customer who gave his name as Hayatudeen said, “Many banks lack money to give to customers, and when you inquire, they will not give you any satisfactory explanation as to why.”
He noted that the story is the same with POS operators because they also complain of scarcity. He added, “Even though most of the POS operators are getting their money from traders and other business operators, they still complain of the scarcity.”
In Kwara, banks are rationing cash to their customers. But customers of Zenith Bank have it differently, they are still allowed to make daily withdrawals of up to N500,000.
Further investigations revealed that this scarcity started three weeks ago, and customers of UBA, GTB, First Bank, Union Bank, and others are the worst hit.
One banker said, “Banks do not have enough cash to pay out to customers because people are not bringing money to the bank.
“We only ration the available money among the customers. Anyone that comes to withdraw is paid N20,000, but few highly placed customers are given N50,000 when they come to withdraw.”
In Ekiti State, an official at the Union Bank branch, Okesa Ado Ekiti, revealed that the branch was unable to meet the specific withdrawal demand of its customers because “there is no sufficient cash for now. We give what we can afford to ensure it goes around.”
In Sokoto State, a resident, Kabiru Nura, told The PUNCH, “Even though the issue is becoming more relaxed, the scarcity is still very much with us. The funniest part is at ATMs, you hardly get cash at ATMs these days. The last time this happened was during the naira redesign policy, and this should really be a thing of the past now.”