March 31, 2023 10:47 pm





A few months ago, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) came up with the policy of a new Naira redesign.

The Governor of CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, told the nation  that a bulk of the nation’s currency is trapped in people’s homes instead of banks.

He noted that the irritating practice of keeping money at home is negatively affecting the economic health of the nation. Going forward, he advised  law abiding citizens to take immediate and forthright steps  to deposit their old Naira notes at the banks or it would become illegal tender, If they failed to comply with the CBN directive.

Comrade John Emejor.

As expected, people who have money at home used the window of opportunity provided  by the CBN to lodge their hard earned money at  the commercial banks.

Earlier  before now, the CBN has equally announced that commercial banks will begin to pay their clients with the new Naira notes. Nothing of such was seen, when bank customers visited banks to access their funds. They were paid with old currency because Banks keep insisting  they do not have the new currency.

Even when  the apex  bank has  decreed that individuals can only withdraw #20,000 cash per day, no bank customer has been favored with such humongous amount,since the new CBN cashless policy rolled off the ground. Rather bank customers go home after  wasting a whole day with paltry sum of #2,000 or #5,000, on a lucky day.

Tomorrow again, everyone will cluster at the bank premises hoping to access their fund, unfortunately again, bank officials would tell them: “we don’t have cash”. This has been the ugly scenario for sometime now.

From time to time, the CBN keep postulating that it has made available enough new Naira notes to the commercial banks, across the length and breadth of the nation. The commercial banks on its part, keep responding; we are yet to access such funds from the apex bank. From all these, we don’t know who to belief.  However, one thing is very clear, the bank customers are bearing the wrath and brunt of the moment. They are being taken for a ride, in other words.

On a general  note, it would seem to us that the ease of transferring money electronically, is yet to take firm root in most commercial banks operating in Nigeria. When the banking publics were challenged to wire  the funds electronically, they did, but weak network and unprecedented traffic congestion could not allow the transfer funds to get to their recipients. Because of this ugly development, many people now refuse to accept transfer of funds as a mode of payment of goods and services. In effect, a large number of people are still insisting that they must be paid in cash, in every transaction.

As the commercial banks were unable to meet the cash demands of their teeming customers, the banking publics have to turn to Point of sales (POS) operators fill the gaps. Strangely however, the cash the banks were unable to dispense, were readily found in the hands of (POS) operators. Since the new currency is in the hands of POS operators, they swiftly metamorphosed into the latest oppressors in town. As they wasted no time to exploit their customers beyond human imagination. Take for instance, if you seek to receive #10,000 cash from POS operator, be prepared to part with # 4,000 of your hard earned income, before the deal will sail through. Since we need cash to off set our immediate needs, one has no option than to comply.

Every effort made by the relevant government agencies to stop the evil practices of POS cartels fell on deaf ears. As we speak, POS handlers are still having a field day.

The latest ruling of the Supreme Court of Nigeria legalising old naira notes of 200, 500, and 1000 naira,

 as legal tender till December, 31st 2023, seemed not to improve or ameliorate the scarce financial flow currently besetting the nation.

To compound the ugly situation, most citizens do not accept the notes as legal tender because commercial banks are unwilling to accept the old naira deposits from the banking public.

Earlier in the week, the administration of Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, has mandated individuals, institutions, and multinational agencies doing business in the state to accept the old naira currency without fail, adding that non-compliance will attract severe sanctions.

A few hours ago, the Presidency and the Central Bank of Nigeria decided to comply with the Supreme Court ruling.

On a final note, there is no doubt that the bizarre situation has pushed a lot of people into bouts of depression.

Quite frankly, it is very hard to understand why citizens, on a daily basis, are begging banks to let them access their hard-earned funds, yet banks are treating their demands with an iron hand. History has taught us, however, that no situation can endure forever. No matter the pressure we are going through, let no one allow the ugly situation to depress or overwhelm him/her. To God be the glory.

                   *Written by *

  *Comrade John Emejor*

Immediate Past NUJ Chairman, Abia State Council

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