On October 26, 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the introduction of newly designed N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes into the banking system.
Some observers predicted that the new Naira notes will likely reduce corruption, promote a cashless society, and stop the uncontrolled movement of currency around the nation.
The head of the central bank and many others did not anticipate that the CBN governor’s announcement that the old Naira notes will cease to be legal tender in the country on January 31 would result in the predicament the nation finds itself in today.
Despite how clever this program is, the apex bank’s refusal to launch initiatives that would permit the unfettered flow of fresh Naira notes to all citizens regardless of status or area has led to criticism of it.
Numerous professional organizations, including the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), have criticized the CBN’s plan to distribute the new Naira notes.
Because of the new Naira notes policy’s inadequate implementation, many businesses have suffered.
No type of business representation, including individuals, shop owners, entrepreneurs, petty traders, and professionals, has been untouched by this approach.
Reliable sources revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria did not include microfinance banks in its plan for the replacement of old naira notes with new ones which made these financial institutions depend on commercial banks.
It was learnt that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had directed commercial banks to stop giving money to micro-finance banks and attempts made by their operators to get money from the CBN were futile as they were told by CBN officials that they can not get money.
Findings by WITHIN NIGERIA revealed that Nigeria’s apex bank engaged the services of some micro-finance banks and PoS operators in Zamfara and some northern states for the replacement of old naira notes to new ones.
Reports from credible media platforms also claimed that the CBN assembled some super POS operators across 36 states in its plans to replace old naira notes with new ones.
Aside from the suffering of farmers and small-scale company owners who depend on micro-finance institutions to run their enterprises, point-of-sale (POS) operators have also endured hell.
Many POS operators have shut down their businesses, although some have found support in other companies.
A number of people were having trouble using the Wema Bank Plc ATMs, which are owned by the commercial bank and are situated next to the palace of the king of Ijesaland at the well-known roundabout when this reporter visited.
While some people were hanging around by the bank’s gate, others were inside the bank’s grounds. The tale is comparable to those of nearby partner banks.
This writer saw that although some customers were forced to hand out their numbers by bank staff to control the process because they were visibly upset and annoyed, others sold their numbers to customers who arrived to the bank late.
Kolawole Taofeek, a 35-year-old guy who answered the door and introduced himself as a POS operator with a kiosk on Bolunduro, a busy street in Ilesa, Osun State, was approached by this reporter.
According to Kolawole, he wouldn’t leave the bank’s property unless he could get hold of fresh Naira bills to pay for his family’s expenses and satisfy certain devoted clients who depend on him.
The 35-year-old point-of-sale employee, who arrived as early as 6:30 am, revealed that bank executives stocked the ATMs slowly, which heightened the already tense situation.
We were in line, and they gave us a number, but some of the line members were impatient, which made the process difficult. We had to plead with them to keep their cool and let the bank employees do their jobs. This place is so annoying, he continued.
Another point-of-sale operator, known only as Bayo, told WITHIN NIGERIA that he has informed his clients that he is unable to procure either old or new Naira notes for them because he no longer comprehends the situation.
“Last day, I arrived here about 7:00 am and left around 5:00 pm. I was unable to acquire any money. I had to return today since I need to pay certain payments with the money. I used debt to purchase several groceries in my neighborhood, including gaari, rice, and bean grains. A fairly dejected Bayo replied, “I need to pay off these obligations so that I can roam around without restriction.
Bayo claims that I regret returning the old Naira notes on Sunday because doing so left me without any money when I otherwise would have had some on hand.
We were duped into delivering outdated notes, and they later pushed back the deadline. The situation would not have gotten this much worse if they had postponed it sooner, Bayo continued.
Because they went through hell to see those naira bills, Salam Aderibigbe have no problems with fellow POS operators who collect N1,000 for N10,000 in withdrawals.
Aderibigbe asserts that only people who live well at home are unable to comprehend the struggles POS workers face when trying to scan naira bills for payment.
I never beg for business. If you disagree with the claim, there was no collusion. It must be a joke because I can’t stand in the hot sun for hours on end and you want me to charge withdrawal fees as usual. He expected a response from the reporter as he stared into her eyes, but she wasn’t prepared to provide one.
A 63-year-old man who only went by the name Baba Keepe told this reporter that because of his age and precarious health, he arrives extremely early to choose good numbers and stays at a friend’s shop close to the bank because he cannot risk remaining outside in the hot heat.
As affectionately referred to as Baba Keepe by admirers and clients, he confessed that he occasionally visits the bank if his alternative method of obtaining naira notes fails to yield any money.
When questioned about his other source of naira notes, he said that occasionally, local restaurants or provision shops feel sorry for him and give him some naira notes. In contrast to when I spend hours at the bank to collect money, I charge less when I receive these naira notes.
The shortage of naira notes has a higher impact on students residing in campus areas, according to a 26-year-old Osun State College of Education student named “Precious” who also works as a POS operator.
Precious claims that because they cannot afford POS fees and rising transportation costs, the majority of students walk to classrooms and attend lectures on an empty stomach.
I work hard to find fresh Naira bills so I can make purchases around the university area for less money. I charge N300 for a N5000 withdrawal, which is the lowest amount I’m aware of. For us, it has been a very tough situation, the somewhat irate young guy continued.
Another POS operator, known only as Sade, lamented bitterly the discomforts she typically experiences everytime she visits the bank to withdraw new Naira notes.
The 23-year-old woman working for a POS vendor told this reporter that she would spend hours in the sweltering sun to keep up her line.
On one occasion, after waiting for several hours, I was almost enraged to learn that the machine was not dispensing once more. She described how she had just walked home in tears, taken a shower, taken some medicines, and dozed off because she had already exhausted her energy while maintaining the queue.
This writer attempted to discuss the subject with others who are probably not POS operators, but they are either worn out or not interested in talking about it at all. When the gate was opened to let a different group of people use the ATM and some individuals were tussling with the gate with bank security personnel, this reporter was forced to leave the bank’s premises.
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