By Lydia Ngwakwe
Mr Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed commercial banks to begin the payment of the redesigned naira notes over the counter.
Emefiele gave the directive in a statement posted on the CBN Website on Thursday and signed by the Director, Corporate Communications, Mr Osita Nwanisobi
He noted that the new directive would address the challenge of queues experienced at various commercial banks across the country.
The governor said, “while reiterating our commitment to Nigerians to ensure the effective distribution of the newly introduced naira banknotes, we urge them to exercise patience as the CBN is working assiduously to address the challenge of queues at ATMs.”
According to him, in line with this resolve, the commencement of the payment of the redesigned Naira notes over the counter is subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.”
The governor also said the bank had observed with grave concern, the activities of persons who were selling the newly redesigned banknotes and the queues at ATMs.
He expressed worry that unregistered persons and non-bank officials had been swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN, among others.
The CBN boss also noted that It was collaborating with the relevant security agencies to address the unpatriotic practice.
Meanwhile, Point of Sale (POS) agents in Lagos have begun to take advantage of naira notes scarcity to demand extra charges on every transaction made by customers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that most all the PoS agents visited around Ebute-Meta, Oyinbo and other parts of Lagos had increased their charges from 0.02 per cent to 10 per cent on every N5,000, while 0.03 per cent to 10 per cent on transaction between N5,000 to N10,000.
NAN reports that most customers who were in dire need of cash were seen paying the charges.
Some of the agents told NAN that the increased charges was because of scarcity of cash (old and new notes) at banks, while the few that had charged them exorbitantly.
The operators also said the increase in the charges was to compensate them for the man-hour lost at the long queues experienced while at banks.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had ordered banks to load their Automated Teller Machines (ATM) with the new naira notes to ensure Nigerians had access to it.
The redesigned naira notes, comprising N200, N500 and N1000, came into use on Dec. 15, 2022, after they were unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 23, 2022 in Abuja.
The CBN had earlier fixed Jan. 31 as deadline for the collection of old naira notes, but later extended the time limit to Feb. 10.
The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the extension was to allow Nigerians that had naira legitimately earned and trapped, the opportunity to deposit their money for exchange.
Mr Obiora Chikezie, a bank customer, described the situation as shameful.
“It is a shame that a policy that would have benefited every citizens has now been sabotaged, and has become
an avenue for POS operators to make brisk business.
“I just bought old naira notes of N10,000 for N12,000,” he said.
Another customer, Mrs Philomena Belema, expressed the same disappointment.
“I have just transfered N9,600 to PoS for N8000 in order to buy 20 liters of fuel for my saloon at the black market.
“We are really in a sorry state in this country, ” she said.
A food vendor, Mrs Augustina Maduka, also spoke in the same vein.
“Just few hours ago, I bought yam from Malam for N1,000, I transfered N3,000 to him to collect N2,000 to enable me to buy other foodstuffs that my family needs.
She appealed to the CBN to compel banks to load and dispense lower denominations, like N50 and N100, to be used for small purchases.