Yesterday, the newly redesigned naira notes began circulation as planned. Supply across the country, however, was scanty or non-existent in some areas.
Banks, which received an influx of customers, some of who deposited old notes in exchange for a replacement, complained of low disbursement. Across-the-counter withdrawals were mainly in old notes, even as customers requested payment in the new currencies.
A few banks that had supply rationed the new notes. At Coker in Lagos, a customer, who requested N120,000, received N4,000 in new N500 bills while the balance came in the old notes.
Supply was scarce, with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country still dispensing old notes. Correspondents were informed that the machines were yet to be reconfigured.
While banks grappled with limited supply, some early handlers of the notes had difficulty transacting with them as some individuals, especially in informal settings, turned down the bills.
“After leaving the banking hall, I made efforts to spend the new notes but people rejected them,” a bank customer in Lagos, said. Earlier in the day, a video showing a bus operator in Lagos rejecting the new N1,000 bill from a female passenger went viral. The lady, who was headed for work, had boarded the commercial vehicle but was required to disembark.
As Nigerians await full circulation of the freshly styled naira, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, wrote the House of Representatives, assuring he would soon brief the lawmakers on the bank’s monetary policies.
Emefiele had been expected to appear before the legislators, yesterday, to defend the apex bank’s withdrawal limit, a follow-up policy to the naira redesign. The limit, which is scheduled to begin January 9, 2023, would reduce maximum daily cash withdrawal to N20,000.
As members of the lower chamber resumed, the House received a letter addressed to the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, and read by Deputy Speaker,
, who presided over the plenary.
The letter, dated December 13, 2022, and signed by CBN Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, Edward Adamu, explained that Emefiele could not appear because he was on a trip with President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States.
“While the Governor regrets his inability to be physically present for the scheduled briefing, due to the aforementioned national assignment, he shall be available to provide the briefing at the earliest time possible,” the letter reads.
The briefing was, thereafter, rescheduled for December 20.
Most commercial banks in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, were yet to pay customers the new notes as of yesterday. The customers said they were yet to set eyes on the notes, even as transactions across most banks were done with the old notes.
A bank staff said though the new notes had been received, the financial institution was still processing the money, adding that customers could start receiving them today. He further confirmed that no customer of the branch was paid new notes yesterday.
Another bank official said his branch was yet to receive the notes from headquarters; hence transactions were still being done in old notes. He could not also guarantee that the branch would start giving out the new notes today, stressing that this would depend on availability.
Visits to ATM points showed that old notes were still being dispensed, while across various counters, customers complained of not getting the new notes.
In Kaduna State, thousands trooped to banks in anticipation of picking up the redesigned notes. Unusual long queues were observed along Yakubu Gowon Way, where customers pleaded with bank officials to pay out money in the new bills.
But most banks said the notes were being rationed. Consequently, new notes were limited to N2,000 withdrawals, with a promise that this would increase later.
A banker told The Guardian: “We have been inundated with requests for the new notes. However, we had to plead with them that they cannot get more than N2,000 new notes in each withdrawal.
“Customers should bear with us until the situation improves. Circulation starts today; you can understand the anxiety and panic. But we are constrained by the supply of new notes. As the situation improves, more of the new notes will be disbursed and the old notes will gradually be withdrawn from circulation.”
Meanwhile, some customers utilised unofficial channels at banks to get more new notes from their account officers. One customer at a bank along Ahmadu Bello Way in Kaduna, said: “I am lucky to have got N4,000 from a cash withdrawal of N15,000 on the counter. A lot of people are still waiting in a queue to make withdrawals.”