By Daniel Adaji
Anthony Esther, a resident in Okpo, Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi State, has lamented the non-availability of the new Naira notes in her community and how several businesses have shut down not wanting to continue to transact in the old currency for fear that they might not be able to change to the new notes before the Central Bank of Nigeria’s deadline expires.
The new notes are not available because in a week, maybe we just get two
She told this reporter that “The new notes are not available because in a week, maybe we just get two. Now, Point of Sales (PoS) operators are threatening to reject the old notes by Thursday 27th January 2023. Some shop owners and business operators have resolved to shut down businesses until the new notes are available in the community.”
She added further, “For my mum, she opens her shop but collects only notes below N200. She then immediately uses the money to restock her shop. Some of the money merchants in the area have stopped collecting old notes because there is no bank in Okpo and before they go to Otukpa Branch, it takes time. The First Bank in Ankpa, the neigbouring L.G.A area has not resumed operations since they were robbed last year.”
For my mum, she opens her shop but collects only notes below N200
Okpo is an agrarian community in Olamaboro L.G.A of Kogi State, bordering Enugu to the east Ankpa and Benue State. Being the local government headquarters, it houses the seat of power in Olamaboro. The dwellers are majorly farmers, civil servants and traders.
Traders from the eastern and northern parts of the country visit the area to transact in both food and non-food activities however, it lacks a commercial bank to aid its business activities leaving the traders and dwellers at the mercy of P.O.S operators who charge high to either take deposit of their cash of dispense cash to them.
The closest banks available to them are in Ankpa, Anyigba or Otukpa Branch in Benue State. Since the First Bank in Ankpa was robbed, it has not resumed for operations putting pressure on United Bank for Africa, UBA and some other banks in the Ankpa L.G.A.
Mr. Okpanachi Noah is a school proprietor in Eti-aja community of Anyigba, Dekina Local Government Area. He noted that banks were still dispensing old currency notes.
“In fact, I just sent one of my staff to the bank with the old notes in order to get the new ones but unfortunately, the bank ATM still dispensed old notes. We are afraid that we may lose our cash if nothing is quickly done to help us because the deadline is fast approaching,” he said.
We are afraid that we may lose our cash if nothing is quickly done to help us
As a measure to mitigate cash loses, many shops no longer collect N200 denomination and above, some businesses already shut down and POS operators are overwhelmed with the volume of cash at their disposal. The operators charge extra for deposit of old notes.
Towards the end of the year 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN announced the introduction of the new naira notes and subsequent withdrawal of the old currency notes in circulation.
The deadline was fixed for 31st January 2023. Although the latest development has witnessed different forms of reactions by both politicians and the citizens, the apex bank has refused to extend the deadline.
In a video trending on twitter, the President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) was captured as saying that Nigerians had enough notice to change their old notes and that the government would not extend the date of withdrawal.
“With this change of currency I think there will be a lot of money but time is being given, from October to December,. Three months is enough. Whatever money you have to get it change through a legal system. So I don’t know why people are complaining. No going back…..” the president said.
To the citizens, the currency change is rather too sudden while some politicians believed it is a political tool to financially incapacitate oppositions in the country as the election time approaches.
Recently, the National assembly renewed a call on the CBN to extend the deadline for withdrawal of the old notes from circulation from the current January 31st. The legislators argued that the new currency notes are not enough in circulation warning that if deadline was not extended, there would be crisis in many parts of the country.
Also, the Borno State governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum had said that Borno State may not be able to meet up with the deadline. He said apart from the non-availability of the new notes, only three of the 27 local government areas of the state-Maiduguri Metropolitan, and Biu had functional banks, due to insecurity which had crippled the activities of most commercial banks in the state. The governor, therefore, appealed to the CBN to extend the deadline as his administration (Zulum) had just released some intervention funds for repentant terrorist who are presently in the military custody.
“Just last week, the Borno state government, under my leadership, has approved the release of the sum of N800 million to cushion the hardship faced by our repentant Boko Haram terrorists,” the governor disclosed, querying, “So how does CBN expect these repentant terrorists who are still under the custody of our security operatives come out to exchange their old naira notes or open an account with commercial banks?” he queried.
Many rural dwellers will lose cash if nothing is done to assist them to change to new notes.
First published on The Insight