Old and new naira scarcity hurts daily living, businesses
Businesses and the daily lives of Nigerians have been badly affected by the worsening scarcity of old and new naira notes across the country.
The scarcity of the naira, which has persisted for weeks, has radically altered the economic landscape of businesses, the living conditions of the people, and small business operators.
As the scarcity persisted, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) confirmed the arrest of some bank managers in connection with hoarding the redesigned naira notes. The bank also advised bank customers to save their old naira notes through POS-super agents by opening savings accounts.
In Lagos, a woman and a man enacted mild dramas in the banking halls of different banks by stripping themselves half-naked while registering their anger.
The Nation findings yesterday showed that the most vulnerable groups, roadside businesses, and hawkers, were the worst hit by the cash scarcity. They expressed anxiety and frustrations over low customer traffic and patronage linked to the development.
Roseline Adigun, who sells roasted yam and plantain at the Magodo axis, said her sales volume dropped by over 80 percent in the last week because of the naira’s scarcity.
She said: “I have incurred a lot of losses in the last week because of the naira scarcity. Many customers who usually spend N1,000 and N1,200 spend less than N400 at present. They asked me to get a PoS for my business, but the cost is far beyond the capacity of my business,” she said.
Abubakar Umaru, who sells fruits at Ereko Market in Ibeju-Lekki, expressed anxiety over what becomes of his business in the cash-less banking era.
“I have seen a drop in the volume of sales because my customers said they do not have cash. I had one customer who left after he could not make transfers because of a bad network. He left and made his purchases at a nearby supermarket,” Umaru lamented.
While the retail businesses have come under threat, many customers who cannot get cash to make purchases are now moving to malls, where they can use their debit cards.
Many shopping malls like Spar and Shoprite, among others, are cornering the transactions that were previously done by small businesses.
Obinna Akire, one of the shoppers at Spar, Town planning Way, Ilupeju, Lagos, said:
“When you cannot get cash, the next option is to find where you can use your debit card on the PoS machine.
“Many of the things I bought today, can be purchased within my neighborhood, but that would demand the use of cash, which is not available.
“It is a trend that many people are embracing despite its challenges and poor network connectivity.”
Bank officials arrested, says CBN
In Abuja, CBN’s Director in charge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abubakar Kure, told The Nation that more arrests were made in Abuja in connection with the hoarding of new notes.
He said: “Some arrests were made yesterday (Tuesday) and today (Wednesday) in the FCT, Abuja.
”A joint task force of CBN, ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission), and EFCC (Economic Financial Crimes Commission) raided some banks at Ademola Adetokumbo Street, Abuja.
“Some bank managers were arrested and are currently in ICPC custody. They were arrested for hoarding new notes instead of utilizing them through proper channels.
“Currently, a team of CBN, EFCC, and ICPC are in the field looking out for other third parties selling new naira notes instead of putting them in ATMs for the public to access.”
Deposit old notes through POS super agents
Also yesterday, the CBN advised Nigerians to exchange their old notes through PoS agents by opening savings accounts with them.
The Director of Protection of the apex bank, Rasheedat Mangunu, spoke while monitoring some PoS super-agents in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The bank had last month distributed PoS to 30,000 super-agents, with a cash sum of N500,000 each to ease the swap of the old notes.
Mangunu said: “People can easily open a bank account through the POS super-agents, with just National Identity Card and save their old money in their accounts, without stress.
“Our super-agents will deposit all your old naira notes with no charges and your money will be secure in your various bank accounts,” she said.
Don’t extend the deadline again, Atiku advises CBN
Meanwhile, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has called on the CBN not to extend February 10 swap deadline again.
Atiku made the call despite the difficulties being encountered by Nigerians in accessing the new notes.
In a statement by the Atiku-Okowa campaign organization, the PDP candidate said extending the deadline would defeat the purpose and objective redesign policy.
Atiku said: “There should be no further postponement of the new naira regime after the expiration of the February 10 deadline.
“The vote riggers are seeking to push the CBN to extend till after the election when they would have achieved their evil plots.
“The CBN and the Presidency should be steadfast. The merits of the new naira policy far outweigh the little inconvenience we are experiencing.”