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

…says exercise aimed at currency hoarders

President Muhammadu Buhari, Saturday, called for calm as citizens encounter hardships over the shortage of the redesigned naira notes.

BusinessDay checks on Saturday showed that several business organizations closed shops, as people besieged ATM in search of the new notes.

Shops that managed to remain opened within the Abuja metropolis and in most of the area councils, refused to accept the old notes, for fear of not meeting the expiration deadline in three days time.

A resident in Kuje Area Council who spoke to BusinessDay, James Adanu, lamented how his family could not buy bread for breakfast on Saturday morning following the refusal of bread sellers to accept the old notes.

Adanu who said he had been to all the ATMs in Kuje, but couldn’t withdraw cash, lamented that the large number of people waiting to get the new notes from the ATMs, overwhelmed him.

“I arrived here (the ATM point) by 8.30am and now, it is about 4pm, I still have over 30 persons ahead of me. I wanted to buy bread with my old notes, but the bread seller refused to accept them,” he said.

At the Best Buy Supermarket in Kuje, the Cashier revealed that they were under instructions not to accept the old note.

After much efforts, customers were able to pay using their ATM cards, due to network challenges.

Most of the POS operators also lamented that the shortage of the new cash frustrated their businesses even as many were still only able to give out old naira notes.

One of the POS operators who simply identified himself as Vincent, revealed that he was at the bank ATM machine to withdraw cash throughout Friday and was able to withdraw N100,000.

“As early as 8:10am this morning, the cash was exhausted by only four customers and what I have now are old notes,” Vincent said.

Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State had on Saturday, written to President Buhari, asking the president to shelve his proposed visit to the state following complaints by residents of Kano over the hardship being faced in getting the new naira notes.

A statement by Ganduge’s Media aide, Abba Anwar, stated that the decision to postpone the visit was backed by Kano lawmakers, political leaders, and the business community, who are in support of the agitations for extension of the deadline for the expiration of the old notes.

“Deeply concerned with the hardship caused by the limited time given for halting the use of old Naira notes by the CBN), and for security reasons, Kano State governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje reveals that the state resolved and wrote to Presidency that, the visit of the President to commission some projects to be postponed,”

The decision, he said, was taken on Friday at the Government House after an interactive session with scholars, legislators, political leaders and the business community.

The statement said the action is being taken to avoid any unforeseen circumstance, the statement added.
But the President on Saturday assured that “government will ensure that citizens are unharmed in their businesses and no disruption is caused to the entire supply chain arising from the currency swap due to end shortly.
The President who was reacting to reports of long queues of people waiting for hours for their turn to deposit old notes and get new ones, triggering public anger and opposition’s criticism, reiterated that “ the currency changes were aimed at people hoarding illicit funds and not the common man”.

The President, in a statement signed by Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, noted that “ it had become necessary to prevent counterfeits, corruption, and terrorist funding. This, he assured, will stabilize and strengthen the economy “while taking note that the poorest section of society is facing hardship as they often keep hard cash at home for various expenses, President Buhari gave strong assurances that the government will not leave them to their own fate.

He reiterated that a number of initiatives by the Central Bank and all commercial banks are underway to speed up distribution of the new notes and do all that is necessary to forestall cash squeeze and chaos.

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