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Cash shortage slows down businesses

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By Nicole

Tension over scarcity of cash has worsened across the country.

Millions of Nigerians are being refused access to their money, which has increased tension throughout the nation. Thousands of households are writhing in anguish due to a lack of cash, even as many have run out of necessary goods. The sensations range from the agony of a failed electronic money transfer to the agony of waiting interminably in line to use an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). The traditional cash stations (bank tellers) have stopped operating in the midst of such difficulty because they are out of both old and new notes of currency. Top bankers informed The Guardian in separate conversations that they had suspended the cash transfers because they were concerned about possible sanctions from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Fears that the old naira notes wouldn’t be redeemable after the February 10 deadline for the naira swap policy expired were allayed by CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele yesterday, ending days of the standoff with the House of Representatives during which the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, threatened to issue an arrest warrant on the head of the central bank. He made a commitment to follow Sections 20, Subsections 3, 4, and 5 of the CBN Act when he testified before the Ado Doguwa-led House of Representatives ad hoc committee.

Nigerians would be able to deposit their old notes even after the deadline.

The head of the CBN told Nigerians that even after the date set forth in the CBN Act, they would be able to deposit their old naira notes with the top bank. CBN officials joined Emefiele in his promise to ensure fair and open distribution of the new naira notes to all banking locations around the nation. He was pleased with how enthusiastic Nigerians have been about the new naira and the swap program so far, but he disapproved of bank personnel who were hoarding the new notes in an improper manner.

Referring to a viral video on social media showing bundles of the new notes being sprayed at a party, he reassured the MPs that he had met with the chiefs of the deposit banks on Sunday to rectify the anomaly and ensure that the new notes were available in ATMs all throughout the nation. He assured the lawmakers that the CBN is already working with the Nigerian Finance Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and other security agencies to ensure the smooth implementation of the naira swap policy.

The naira swap policy is a well-thought out policy.

In response, Doguwa called the naira exchange strategy a well-thought-out policy and said it is regrettable that its intention was muddled as a result of a communication gap between the CBN officials and the National Assembly. He commended Emefiele in particular for his promise to uphold the CBN Act on the acceptance of old naira notes after the deadline had passed. As a result, he gave the CBN president instructions to provide a weekly report on the distribution of new notes and the acceptance of old notes by commercial banks and other banking institutions across the nation.

About the motion on the faulty implementation of the naira swap program, Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) begged the CBN to raise the N20,000 withdrawal limit for the new notes at ATMs. The top bank revealed Monday that a commercial bank in Ogun State had mismanaged N4 million in fresh notes. Additionally, it charged that commercial banks had obstructed the CBN’s efforts to distribute the new notes. While leading a team on the monitoring exercise in Ogun, Kayode Makinde, Deputy Director, Banking Supervision Department, CBN Lagos, revealed this to newsmen. According to Makinde, this week would mark the third week of the monitoring operation in the state to make sure that the CBN’s instructions regarding the issuance of fresh notes are followed.

Notes would be redeemed at the CBN after the deadline.

Osita Nwanisobi, Director of the Corporate Communications Department of CBN, revealed that the old notes would cease to be legal money after February 10 and cannot be used for any type of transaction after that date in an interview with newsmen in Abuja. After the deadline, Nigerians would only be able to exchange their naira for face value at the CBN and not at commercial banks, according to Nwanisobi. The admission would be contingent on fulfilling certain requirements, he noted. Nwanisobi cited examples from other regions to illustrate how banknotes that are no longer legal tender can only be redeemed on demand by the monetary authorities of that region, subject to any criteria and procedures that may be set forth by that Central Bank.

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