Nigerians Refuse Old Banknotes
Nigerians Reject Old Banknotes Despite CBN Directive
Central Bank of Nigeria’s Directive Causes Confusion
Despite the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive authorising commercial banks to dispense and receive the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes, many Nigerians this week rejected the bank notes. A PREMIUM TIMES’ survey across major cities found that some motorists and traders refused to accept the old notes amid the uncertainties surrounding the acceptance of the notes by commercial banks.
Apex Bank Extends Legal Tender
The apex bank had on Monday announced that the old and newly redesigned banknotes remain legal tender until 31 December. The move brought relief to Nigerians who had gone through hardship as a result of the cash crunch occasioned by the CBN Naira redesign policy since December. The CBN policy caused widespread chaos across the nation, as frustrated Nigerians staged protests amid poor banking operations.
Supreme Court Decision Ignored
On 8 February, the Supreme Court intervened by issuing an order restraining the CBN from enforcing the deadline for the withdrawal of the N200, N500, and N1000 notes. The court granted the order following a lawsuit challenging the CBN’s currency redesign policy. The order from the Supreme Court was met with relief from many bank customers who had faced hardship while trying to access their money. However, both President Muhammadu Buhari and CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele refused to comply with the court order. On 3 March, the Supreme Court again intervened by ruling that the CBN must extend the use of old banknotes until 31 December due to the negative impact of the policy.
On Monday, the presidency in a statement claimed that Mr Buhari never directed the CBN to disobey the Supreme Court’s order, prompting the apex bank to direct commercial banks to comply with the Supreme Court order. Days after the CBN gave its directive; PREMIUM TIMES observed that while many Nigerians now accept the old N500 and N1000 notes, some others are still rejecting the banknotes.
Insufficient Supply of Cash
Although commercial banks began issuing the old notes last week, there has been an improvement in the amount of money being dispensed to customers since the CBN announced that they should comply with the court order Monday night. But bank officials who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES under condition of anonymity said that the banknotes available for customers remain insufficient as of Wednesday evening.
Meanwhile, in Abuja, PREMIUM TIMES observed that some motorists have refused to accept the old banknotes. Reuben Akintola, a taxi driver that plies the Apo-Kubwa route, expressed reservation about the CBN directive, adding “For now, I can’t collect it from passengers even if it will affect the amount of money I see daily, I don’t mind.” At the popular Garki market, while some traders received the old naira notes from their customers, others rejected the old notes and insisted on being paid with the new notes only.
Relief For Some
In Uyo, the capital of Akwa-Ibom State, traders and commuters are accepting the old notes, according to residents who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday. On his part, Yakubu Uwaidem, who resides in the Ibagwa community of Abak LGA, Uyo, said traders within the community are still skeptical about collecting the old notes.
Hardship and Relief
Emeka Obi, an electronics dealer at Oja Oba in Ado Ekiti, insisted that he will not accept the old naira note. “I already had a placard in my shop that read ‘Pay with the new note or you do a transfer’. The president and the CBN started all this issue without considering the masses and now they said we should start collecting it again. The problem is not even to collect but to deposit back is a serious matter,” he said.
Desperate for Cash
A butcher at the Garki market, Adekunke Samuel, said there were days he recorded huge sales but had to trek home because of the cash crunch. “We had to join some of our people who have cars. I joined my brother at the police signpost in Lugbe and trekked a distance to my house because I didn’t have N100 to pay for a bike,” he said.
A New Beginning?
Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES, Nkiruka Romanus, a foodstuff seller in Olojudo market, Ido Ekiti in Ekiti State, quipped: “This is a major relief for everyone now. I have called the man that used to supply me with goods and he said that I should start collecting the old note so if you have someone that still can’t spend the old naira note please, refer the person to my shop. I will collect it.”