The lack of newly designed naira notes has led to a cash shortage and a growing sense of anxiety among Nigerians desperate to get hold of their money. The frustration and anger have boiled over, leading many Nigerians to pour out onto the streets and attack deposit money banks, setting them ablaze and vandalizing them. This situation is particularly dire in Warri, where an Access Bank ATM was set ablaze and most other banks were vandalized, such as GTCO, and Stanbic IBTC, among others.
The Supreme Court has even become involved and has ordered that the deadline to hand in old notes be extended, but this has made little difference as the CBN still withholds the original date, which was February 10, 2023.
“I have not eaten today,” says Abraham Osundiran, 36, as he stands in one of two queues at a bank in Ikoyi, a district in the country’s main commercial hub, Lagos.
He has had to miss work at a construction company for the second day because he does not have the cash to pay the taxi fare. Some Nigerians have embraced digital payments, but many still rely heavily on cash.
“It’s painful. I cannot go to the market, because they want cash. “Buses have started rejecting the old naira notes; now I have to trek everywhere,” hairstylist Lilian Ineh, 26, tells the Ratecaptain from her salon.
“There’s no money to buy goods, so I have fewer products to sell.” There are few customers. “Normally, I have at least five customers on a Saturday, but now I have less than three.”
“I queued for the entire day at a bank to get new notes, and I was not able to withdraw because the cash was exhausted in the ATM,” says the 25-year-old, who runs a kiosk in Lekki.
She goes on to say that most banks, including UBA and Zenith Bank, have closed most of their branches due to naira scarcity, causing crowding at most of the other available ATMs.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele has said he has taken steps to get more of the new notes into the system with the aim of easing the situation.
Despite the crisis, there are a few people, especially those who managed to plan well ahead, who have not felt the crunch just yet.
It’s clear that this problem needs immediate attention from government officials and banking institutions if it’s going to be resolved quickly. On one hand, the Central Bank of Nigeria must take steps towards ensuring adequate currency supplies across all parts of the country so that citizens can access their funds without difficulty or disruption; on the other hand, banking institutions need to find ways to increase efficiency when it comes to providing customers with the cash they need at any given time without having to wait long periods of time to get what is rightfully theirs to begin with.
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