Our Reporter, Abuja, Ben Ezechime, Enugu
Residents of Nigeria’s Federal Capital, FCT, Abuja, and Enugu State have lamented the current scarcity of cash in circulation in parts of the FCT and the Coal City state, following the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cashless policy.
In separate interviews with Ikengaonline the residents complained bitterly about the non-availability of cash and the exploitation by Point of Sale (PoS) operators.
The CBN had shifted the deadline for the expiration of old notes from Jan. 31 to February, 10.
However, most residents are concerned that the commercial banks in the Federal Capital and Enugu State are not dispensing the new naira notes.
In the FCT, only a few bank Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were seen dispensing the new naira notes since Monday. And in those banks, the queues were unusually very long.
A visit by our Correspondent to one of the banks, the Guarantee Trust Bank (GT Bank) in Jabi area of Abuja Monday and Tuesday, showed angry customers who could not access their cash either across the counter or through the ATM machines.
When approached for explanation, a cashier (named withheld) simply said, “we do not have any cash available.”
An angry customer who could not access his funds on hearing the helpless explanation of one of the bank staff said: “In this country today under President Muhammadu Buhari, there is nothing like shame again. Imagine a bank telling customers without any qualms that they don’t have the new naira notes. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is everywhere saying it has made available enough cash to the banks.”
Also a visit to the United Bank for Africa (UBA) located within the National Hospital Abuja on Wednesday also revealed empty ATMs with customers unable to make any withdrawals.
The same situation is observable in most of the banks in the Federal Capital, with customers waiting endlessly in bank branches all over the city hoping that officials would at some point load the ATM machines.
In Enugu, Mr Emmanuel Eze from Isi Uzo Local Government Area of the state told Ikengaonline that the situation in the villages was worse due to lack of banks branches in the rural areas.
“As I speak, we are stranded here in the village because even the nearest PoS agents don’t have money to dispense.
“No money to even buy Maggi to cook not to talk of buying anything,” he said.
Mrs Victoria Eke, a resident of 9th Mile corner in Udi Local Government Area said she was a PoS operator but had no money to give to her customers.
“Yesterday, I spent over eight (8) hours in the bank only to get N20,000 and immediately I arrived the shop within 30 minutes the money was exhausted.
“So, there is real trouble, in fact, I am planning to lock up the shop and head back home,” she said.
In the same vein, Mr Ibeabuchi Nweke, a resident complained that he went to the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) to withdraw money but couldn’t find a way through.
“I decided to withdraw across the counter, surprisingly, I was given only N2000 of N50 notes; it’s heartbreaking, honestly I don’t understand,” he said.
Ikengaonline reports that many PoS operators now take advantage of the situation to charge higher percentage on commission.
According to Mr Eugene Okafor, a legal Practitioner, the PoS operators now charge as high as 200 per cent commission on each withdrawal.
“I went to withdraw money and paid N2000 as commission for withdrawing N10,000 only. I wonder what is happening in Nigeria,” he said.
However, a PoS operator, Miss Elizabeth Nwoye, said the reason for the high commission was due to the process of getting the cash from the banks.
“It is not easy to get the cash out of the banks. We go extra miles to get this money; so, if anyone is not ready, others are ready,” she said.