•We do not have enough supply from CBN — Banks
•Dispenses mixture of old and new notes
•Banks may be hoarding but we will fight them — CBN
•Dispatches officials to monitor banks’ ATMs
•The deadline should be extended — Customers
By Babajide Komolafe, Emma Ujah, Peter Egwuatu, Yinka Kolawole, Nkiruka Nnorom, Emmanuel Elebeke, Favour Ulebor, Gabriel Ewepu & Elizabeth Adegbesan
WITH five weeks gone into the period of transition from old to new Naira notes and just barely one week to the deadline for acceptance of the old notes as legal tender, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the commercial banks appear to be at logger heads over the circulation of the new notes.
Financial Vanguard, in a working visits to several branches of commercial banks in Lagos and Abuja last weekend discovered that the banks were struggling to comply with a CBN directive mandating them to stop dispensing old notes and ensure that all their Automatic Teller Machines, ATMs, are adequately loaded with the new notes.
They told Financial Vanguard that they do not have enough cash in the new notes to comply with the directive, adding that in the interim, they have to continue dispensing the old notes since they cannot turn back customers in need of cash.
Confirming this development to Financial Vanguard, a top CBN official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it is true that the apex bank directed the banks not to load old notes in their ATMs.
He explained that the directive was aimed at fast-tracking the circulation of the new notes ahead of the deadline of January 31st 2023 when the old notes will cease to be legal tenders.
He also said that though the banks could complain of limited supply of the new notes the CBN has also found out that the banks may actually be hoarding the new notes for either completion advantage or for vested interests of privileged customers. This, according to him, was why the apex bank was forcing the banks to dispense the new notes.
Meanwhile, some banks’ customers who were apparently frustrated by the situation told Vanguard that they expect the apex bank to extend the deadline for retiring the old Naira notes in view of the difficulties in getting the new notes to circulate widely.
At the backdrop of the crises, Financial Vanguard discovered that most banks did not offer cash withdrawal services in most of their ATMs. In most branches visited, only one or two out several ATMs dispensed cash.
First Bank, Union Bank struggle with CBN
In a bid to comply with the CBN directives most ATM owned by FirstBank branches on Lagos Island were without cash on Thursday. But by Friday, they began to dispense cash in the new Naira notes only. However, many of the bank’s ATMs remained without cash into Saturday in many other parts of Lagos. In the branches visited by Financial Vanguard which included Acme Road, Ikeja, Ikotun-Idimu road branch, and Akowonjo branch, only one ATM out of several dispensed cash in the new notes while others were without cash.
According to a FirstBank official, the bank was complying with the directive of the CBN that banks should not load old naira notes in their ATMs.
Speaking to Financial Vanguard on condition of anonymity, he said, “They told us, no new notes, no cash in ATMs, that is what the CBN said. So all our ATMs did not dispense cash from yesterday till this afternoon (Friday).
“But what we have is not enough to go round all the ATMs. In my branch we just started dispensing about two hours ago. They gave us N3.5 million of new notes. We have five machines, and we usually load each with N8 million for the weekend. So what we did was to put N3.5 million new notes into one ATM. As you can see the queue is long. The money will soon be exhausted.
“Initially there was no limit to the amount each customer could withdraw, but seeing the queue and the fact that we may not have another supply till next week, we decided to impose a limit of N40,000 per customer.”
A Financial Vanguard visit to the Union Bank Head Office branch showed that three of the five ATMs dispensed new naira notes, while the remaining two did not dispense cash.
At the Union Bank branch on Tinubu Street, Lagos Island, one out of the three ATMs was dispensing new naira notes while the other two were without cash. The Union Bank branch at Ikotun has four ATMs but only two were dispensing the new naira notes. The Union Bank branch at Agidingbi, Ikeja had three ATMs with two dispensing the new naira notes.
New generation banks’ ATMs dispense old,new notes
A visit to two new generation bank branches in Amuwo Odofin shows that at the time of visit, their ATMs were dispensing new naira notes.
But some customers that I interacted with claimed that the ATMs in the bank had earlier dispensed a mixture of both old and new notes.
However, the ATMs in a branch of another new generation bank in the area dispensed new N1000 and N500 notes when visited.
Some other new generation banks dispense old, new notes
The Igando and University of Lagos branches of new generation banks are dispensing both old naira notes and new notes.
The Bariga, Alausa Ikeja and 7Up branches of another bank dispensed both the old and new notes.
When Vanguard spoke with some customers on their reaction to the situation, they said: “Please CBN should reverse their decision on the January 31, deadline. Many people have not seen or received the money at all. The first deadline should be to the banks. CBN should give ample time for the circulation of the new notes and instruct the commercial banks to stop dispensing the old notes to the masses; then they can enforce a deadline on the people.
“Many are still dispensing old notes, maybe they will stop by end of this month”.
GTBank, Wema mix old, new notes
A visit to a few of other banks revealed that many of the machines were not operational as only two out of the six ATMs in the area were working and dispensed new notes.
At the bank’s Surulere, Lagos, branch last weekend the ATMs dispensed old and new Naira notes.
The GTBank branches at Lawanson and Ojuelegba areas of Lagos dispensed both new and old notes. Those who withdrew small amount of money ranging from N2000.00 and N5000.00 got new notes while those that withdrew N10,000.00 and above got the old notes. But for Ijeshatedo branch only old notes were dispensed.
On the other hand, branches of GTBank located at 23 Road Festac Town, Ago Palace Way Amuwo-Odofin and the one at Apapa Oshodi Expressway opposite Ibafo Tank Farm dispensed only old notes.
A visit to two branches of Wema Bank Plc at the same Surulere showed that their ATMs dispensed old notes. The two branches are located in Lawanson and Ojuelegba, while the one at Coker, Badagry Expressway dispensed new notes.
At Wema Bank Head Office in Marina, Lagos Island, two of the three ATMs were dispensing old notes when Financial visited the bank, while the last one dispensed new notes.
When asked, some officials of the banks who preferred to remain anonymous why their ATMs still dispensed old notes even as the deadline for use of the old Naira gets closer, they explained that the new notes is not sufficiently supplied to the branches and that is why there is a mixture of both old and new currency at various ATMs. The official could not tell if the short supply was from the bank’s headoffice or from the CBN.
They further said that that they expect the CBN to extend the deadline for decommissioning of the old Naira notes since the new notes are not yet circulated widely.
Some customers who spoke on this issue said from this week they will start to rejecting old notes especially from the banks and protest over it to the government.
A visit to two new generation bank branches in Satellite Town and Wharf Road, Apapa, by Vanguard on Friday showed that the one in Satellite Town was still dispensing old notes while that of Wharf Road, Apapa was dispensing new N1,000 notes.
Similarly, the bank’s branches at Park Lane, Warehouse Road and Burma Road, all in Apapa visited by Vanguard were also dispensing new N1,000 notes.
Abuja ATMs dispense old, new notes
Our correspondents who monitored many ATMs in Abuja over the weekend reported that although some were dispensing new Naira notes, the majority were still dispensing old notes that would seize to be legal tender in about a week from today.
However, a visit to ATMs owned by some new generation bank branches indicated that those dispensing old notes were more than those dispense the new notes.
CBN has threatened to sanction any bank found to be diverting new notes issued to them, as the January 31, deadline draws closer.
A branch manager of a second generation bank claimed that there was not enough new naira as the branch received N10 million pack and has since then been rationing it among customers. She said that the ATMs will start dispensing the new notes on Monday (today).
“We do not have the new notes. You can check next week,” said one of the bank cashiers.
At the Zonal Headquarters of a number of new generation bank branches, located at the Banks Avenue in Area 3, Garki, Abuja, only one out of the six ATMs was dispensing new notes, in the early hours of Friday.
However, by midday, even the only machine that was dispensing new notes started dispensing old notes.
A customer who expected to withdraw new notes from the machine, having been directed to that particular machine by a staff of the bank was heard complaining that he received old notes, instead of new ones.
However, the ATM at the one in Area 11, Garki branch, dispensed new Naira notes to customers, same with the Union Bank, Area 8, Garki Branch and also Keystone Bank’s ATM adjacent to Conoil Petrol Station, Kado Estate.
CBN dispatches officials to monitor ATMs
Meanwhile, officials of the CBN, last week, visited some bank branches across the country to ascertain disbursement of new naira notes from their ATMs.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, a Deputy Director at CBN, Seyi Badmus, who led the team that visited ATMs at Union Bank Head Office branch, FCMB Tinubu branch, Wema Bank, Mamman Kotangora House, Broad Street, all on Lagos Island, said that all banks have been adequately supplied with new notes and that the information on how much was given to each bank indicates that they should be fully able to comply with the directive.
He also added that the banks that they observed were not dispensing new notes with claims of unavailability, the monitoring committee would take it upon itself to ensure they get more newly designed notes to be able to comply.
“The data we have confirmed that all banks should have new notes to dispense and the banks that claim they don’t have, our monitoring team nationwide is going around to confront them and we would ensure that banks fully comply with dispensing the new notes.”
Recall that the Director Legal Services, Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Kofo Salam-Alada, has on Thursday said the agency will go tough on banks that continue to fill their ATM machines with old naira notes as the deadline to phase out the notes nears.
He said the CBN was already monitoring banks that were still dispensing old naira notes from their ATMs.
The director who spoke during a sensitisation event said, “I can tell you today that the CBN on daily basis issue out the new notes. As we speak, banks are at the CBN taking money. We are actually begging banks to come and take the new notes from the CBN. We have these new naira notes in our vaults and we are begging banks to come and take it.
“We found out that a lot of things are happening that we need to checkmate, so we stopped withdrawal of new notes over the counter to ensure that everyone can have access to it and not one chief who is known to the manager, walks in, and carts away all the new notes in a particular branch. That is why we said it should be in the ATMs which cannot distinguish people.
“We also have monitors going around banks now. I have been to some ATMs this morning and I have done the reports. We are not mobilising the masses against the banks because the banks are there to serve you, but be rest assured that they will serve you now that they know that the CBN is on them to serve you with the new naira notes.”
Recall also that the CBN had on January 7th ordered Deposit Money Banks to load the new naira notes on their Automated Teller Machines (ATM) with immediate effect.
This follows a lot of complaints and dissatisfaction expressed by Nigerians who have not been able to access the redesigned notes since it was rolled out on December 15, 2022.
After receiving a letter from their head office, some banks immediately stopped over the counter disbursement of the new naira notes.
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