CBN Deadline: Nigerians express fears on possibility

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By Tajudeen Atitebi

Lagos, Jan. 23, 2023 – Nigerians have started expressing fears on the possibility of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) pushing enough new notes into circulation to make the old notes illegal by the deadline.

The apex bank has fixed Jan. 31, 2023 as the deadline by which it would have pushed enough new notes into circulation to stop the old notes as Nigerian legal tender.

Many residents in Lagos said it was doubtful if the apex bank could achieve this feat given the current situation.

The Global Business News (GBN) reports that many Nigerians said they had not sighted the new notes or had enough to do business as at Monday, nine days to the deadline.

The CBN has directed that customers should collect the new notes through the ATMs and not across the counter as used to be the practice in the previous experiences.

But customers are complaining that this new policy was frustrating the collection of the new notes given the numbers of ATMs across the country.

GBN also reports that many ATMs are no longer functional as they were before apparently because of lack of new notes since the enforcement of the CBN directive that they should no longer dispense old notes.

For example, all the seven ATM machines in Zenith Bank in Gowon Estate, Egbeda, Lagos, were not working as at 10.00 am on Monday.

Also, only two ATMs were dispensing out of the nine ATM machines in GTB Bank in Pako Bust Stop along Ipaja Road on Monday morning when a correspondent of GBN visited.

The premises were filled with customers waiting on long queues to get to the two functional ATMs.

A customer, who identified herself as Silifat Alabi, said that she had been at the branch since 7.00 am, but she had not been successful as at 9.00 am.

She said it was doubtful if the central bank would stick to the deadline if the situation remained the same.

Chibuzor Leonard, another customer in the branch, said customers must now share their day time between their offices and banks to collect enough new notes ahead of the deadline.

She also blamed the new cash withdrawal policy for the confusion.

Many of the ATMs along Oba Akran Road in Ikeja were also not functioning by 10.00 am on Monday.

The few ones that were working had long queues with frustration written on the faces of some of the customers.

An official of Zenith Bank, who pleaded anonymity, said that the branch was just resolving some issues around the new notes.

He said he was not in a position to tell whether the CBN would be able to meet its Jan. 31 deadline to stop the circulation of the old notes.  

Operators of agency banks, otherwise called, POS, also said they had not been getting enough new notes from the banks.

Miss Biola Osuntoku, an operator, said they often received new notes from customers depositing money.

Traders and artisans in Lagos are also complaining of the scarcity of the new notes.

Mrs Shade Alawode, a trader in baby wears on Lagos Island, said she was not even interested in collecting the new note as her friend was paid with a bundle of fake N1000 notes last week.

Many residents said they were disappointed at the current situation in spite of the promises and announcements by the apex bank on the availability of the new notes.

But Olufolake Ogundero, a controller in Ibadan branch of the CBN, said last weekend that the CBN had made enough sensitisation on the programme than to extend the deadline. (GBN)

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