By Frank Ulom
Barely five days to the deadline for Nigerians to return the old NGN200, NGN500 and NGN1,000 notes to commercial banks, residents of rural communities in Central and Northern Cross River State have lamented the lack of the new notes, accusing banks of hoarding the currency.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emiefele while responding to the lawmakers said there is no going back on the January 31st deadline for the return of the old notes, which implies that from February 1st, the old notes will not be accepted, even by banks.
However, a sensitisation campaign led by the CBN, Calabar branch Deputy Director of Banking Supervision Department, Amonia Opusunju, was meted with complaints from residents with different sides of their own stories. Some haven’t seen the new naira note since it was redesigned in December last year.
While the CBN team advised some of the communities, particularly in the Central and Northern senatorial districts of the state, where banks are not located on Wednesday, January 25, 2023, to deposit their money with Point of Service/Sales, POS agents nearest to them, one of the commercial banks in Ugep, Yakurr local government council, only one of the Automated Teller Machines, ATMs was dispensing the new naira notes of N1000.
Narrating their ordeals, some of the residents at the ATM stands lamented that only N20,000 maximum was being dispensed in a day. They said they have not set their eyes on the new naira notes and accused banks of hoarding the new notes for reasons unknown, adding that even the POS agents do not have the new notes. Also in some of the communities, most of the POS agents have stopped collecting the old notes.
In Ekuri community, in Yakurr local government area of the state, a trader, Innocent Omini told the CBN team that he has not come across the new note since its circulation.
Omini who pleaded with CBN to extend the date said, “I have not set my eyes on that money since the circulation and none of my customers in this village has bought something from me with the money, that is to say, they don’t have it.”
A POS agent, who spoke with newsmen said, “I went to the bank yesterday in Ugep with N200,000 to change because customers are asking for the new money, but the bank asked me to use the ATM to get only N20,000, I have to return with my money because I have to do my business”.
In Ogoja and Yala local government councils, most of the old people lamented that they don’t have bank accounts to deposit their money.
When the team visited the village head of Oti West Clan, Eya Atahere Village, Nyanya-Ulim, Bekwarra local government area, His Highness Chief Oniga Stephen, said the National Orientation Agency (NOA) has visited them recently to sensitise the people on the said deadline. He, however, assured the team of the palace’s commitment to sensitise the people.
He said their major challenge in the rural communities is that most people do not have bank accounts and banks are far from the villages.