New naira: Frustration, anger in Lagos as scarcity hits hard

Lagos residents have expressed frustration and anger as they spend hours on long queues without being able to withdraw cash via Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

A NAN correspondent who monitored the development at some banks around Airport Road, Ikotun, Surulere, Ejigbo and Oshodi-Isolo axis, reported that people queued up for more than one hour to be able to withdraw as little as N2,000.

The situation was the same in almost all bank branches on the mainland, while the maximum amount paid was N20, 000.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had ordered banks to load their ATMs with the new redesigned naira notes to ensure Nigerians have access to it.

The new redesigned naira notes comprising N200, N500 and N1000, became a legal tender on Dec. 15, 2022, after they were unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 23, 2022 in Abuja.

The CBN had earlier fixed January 31 as the deadline for the collection of old naira denominated notes, but later extended the time limit to Feb. 17.

The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said the extension was to allow Nigerians that have naira legitimately earned and trapped, the opportunity to deposit their monies for exchange.

Some of the customers who spoke in separate interviews, called on CBN to compel the commercial banks to dispense the new notes at their ATMs to ameliorate sufferings of the people.

Read also: New naira notes: Businesses grounded in Abuja, as Buhari calls for calm

Affiong Peters, who owns a provision shop, urged the government to come to the aid of the poor masses.

“The scarcity of the new naira notes has led to some people being hungry and not able to feed their families because of their inability to withdraw money from the ATMs.

“You will not believe that I have been on this queue since 12 p.m., and it’s almost 1.30 p.m., I still have not been able to withdraw. Government should come to our aid,’’ Peters said.

Owolabi Anjorin, a petty trader, also called on the apex banks to ensure the new notes were in circulation.

“I was on the queue for one hour before I could withdraw just N10,000. if you were not a customer of the bank, where you were to withdraw from, the ATM would only pay you half of the amount you wanted.

“I think this extension is okay, but dispensing back the old notes that customers have deposited is not helping the issue at hand. So, if the apex bank can allow more money in circulation, it will help,’’ he said.

Andrew Louis, an electrician, also spoke in the same vein, said old and new notes should be used concurrently till the new notes were fully in circulation.

“ I have been here for over an hour waiting to withdraw my money, after two people withdrew about N20,000, the ATM stopped dispensing.

“When we asked what went wrong, the bank officials told us that the money had finished.

“This is annoying, if they know that they do not have the new notes to give to us, it is better for them to still be collecting the old one, while the new one is still coming as it is presently not in circulation,’’ he said.

Ofonime Udoh, a nursery school minder, called on the apex bank to adjust its policy on the new naira notes as well as the withdrawal limit, saying it was not in favour of the poor masses.

“I went to the bank today to make a withdrawal and I was told that I could not withdraw, but I could only deposit; ATMs and banking halls were not paying.

“The truth is that many people are stranded, some are crying that they cannot withdraw their money, marketers and petty traders are not selling because people are not coming to buy.

“So, they should help us look into it and adjust the policy for us, it’s not in our favour at all,’’ she said.