Several states are facing a shortage of the Naira, with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) no longer dispensing money, and banks restricting Over The Counter (OTC) cash withdrawals for depositors, The Nation reports.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) blamed the situation on ‘uneven cash flow and huge withdrawal by depositors ahead of the festivities.
Many Nigerians in some of the states already hit by the cash crunch expressed frustrations in accessing cash.
Some of the states already hit by the cash crunch, with commercial and other business activities experiencing some hitches, include Ondo, Edo, Kwara, Delta, Plateau, Jigawa and Osun among others.
In Plateau State, commercial banks were experiencing acute scarcity of cash, development that took a toll on business activities.
The Nation learnt that banks rationed cash to customers OTC in the banking hall. The ATMs were programmed to dispense limited cash. The queues were long.
In some of the banks within the Jos metropolis, only few ATMs dispensed cash. The others were deactivated because they were not loaded with cash.
The situation was, however, different in Katsina, the capital of Katsina State and other urban towns, where businesses continued without glitches.
In Dutse, Jigawa State, customers making bulk withdrawals from their banks had harrowing tales as commercial banks in the state cut the amount of cash paid they gave to their customers to a maximum of N20, 000.
Residents of Ilorin and environs in Kwara State were also hit by the cash crunch due to failure of commercial banks to load their ATMs with cash.
Investigations by our correspondent revealed that some of the banks within the Ilorin metropolis that had cash in their ATMs pegged the amount collectable at between N5000 and N10, 000. OTC withdrawals ranged between N10, 000 and N50, 000.
Residents of Warri, Effurun and environs in Delta State, also expressed concerns over the stress they went through to access cash.
It was learnt that the cash squeeze in these areas had been on for over a month, arising from the failure of banks to facilitate adequate cash withdrawals.
A PoS operator at the popular Robinson Plaza, off Deco Road, Warri South Local Government Area, said several operators had resorted to buying cash from traders to keep doing their businesses because banks have been issuing little or no cash.
In Akure, the Ondo State capital, residents found it difficult accessing their money in commercial banks in the state. OTC maximum withdrawal was N20, 000.
There were no cash available in many ATMs visited in Akure. The few ones that dispensed cash could only get N20, 000
Osun State residents also groaned as PoS agents hiked withdrawal charges by 50 per cent.
Our reporter gathered yesterday in Benin that most of the crowded banks paid only N10, 000 to customers OTC. In Lagos State, banks commenced cash rationing for customers as the lenders contended with scarcity of both old and new naira notes.
Cash rationing had worsened in the past few days as customers found it difficult to access the required volume of cash for their daily expenditure.
Customers of some commercial banks in Ajose Adeogun, Victoria Island, Lagos branches of banks complained that lenders were not meeting their cash needs.
Customers could only make N10, 000 cash withdrawals from ATMs and N20, 000 from the banking halls of banks’ branches.
But in Anambra, Ogun, Bayelsa, Niger, Akwa-Ibom and Benue states, banks attended to customers without conditions.
Reacting to the cash crunch, the CBN put the blame on the doorstep of customers’ withdrawal patterns and the Supreme Court ruling.
Speaking to The Nation, a CBN official from the Currency Operations Department, explained that the current situation was primarily driven by two key factors namely, the uneven cash flow dynamics and the uncertainty over old naira notes.
According to the official, “during the festive season, individuals and businesses tend to withdraw large sums of money for holiday expenses, placing a strain on the banking system’s ability to meet the surging demand for cash.”
He said those rushing to have access to cash were still unaware of the latest Supreme Court verdict that the old and new notes remain legal tender indefinitely.
The CBN official said the apex bank was working closely with commercial banks to ensure adequate cash circulation.
He urged the public to play their part by depositing more money and utilising digital payment options.