By Christiana Amodu-Otinyia
As the clock ticks to hit 12 am on the 31st of January and the old N1000, N500 and N200 naira notes will officially phase out, the new notes have become as scarce as hens teeth. Nigerians have decried the unavailability of these new notes at Automated teller machines (ATM), Point of Sale Merchants (POS), and traders rejecting the old notes even before the official deadline.
Some Abuja residents who spoke with SummitPost News said the new notes have become very scarce as the deadline date approaches, alleging that the banks are hoarding these notes and creating artificial scarcity.
Mr Richard Odaudu, an a Minna based businessman said “ The scarcity of the new notes experienced by most Nigerians is also caused by the banks. A colleague went to swap his old notes for the new one yesterday at one of the UBA branches in Minna and was mocked by the guys who were supposed to do their job because they were old notes”
He added that some bankers are equally requesting a certain payment percentage to swap the old notes for customers and replace them with new notes. He described the current scarcity situation as being merchandised by Nigerians to make Nigerians suffer.
Some citizens have also raised concerns on social media about “service charges” paid on withdrawals made at POS points and further scarcity woes.
The Central Bank of Nigeria had issued a warning to commercial banks to desist from all acts of hoarding the new notes and also directed banks to load all ATMs across the country with new notes in order for the transition to be smooth.
Economist and Forensicexpert, Dr Emmanuel Shaibu urged the apex bank to immediately begin the cash withdrawal limit for POS merchants to bring an end to racketeering practices perpetuated by operators.
However, respondents disclosed that some banks are still adamantly either not loading their automated teller machines with new notes or these machines are not dispensing at all. This has made financial transactions difficult for Nigerians and inducing waves of panic as the deadline draws closer.