Cash crunch: Emefiele In People’s Court   

By Elizabeth Chukwuma

President Muhammadu Buhari , appears to have exonerated himself from the difficulty and hardship faced by Nigerians   in  getting  the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele,  redesigned N200, N500,N1000 Notes.

The Katsina born Nigerian President who could not hide his feelings when the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, governors visited him  at the Presidential Villa,  in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, on Friday, February 3, 2023, has opened up.

 The Nigerian President had said that before he considered  giving approval  to the new monetary policy as requested by the apex bank governor, he had demanded   an ‘’undertaking from him  that no new naira Notes  will be printed outside the country’’ and Emefiele , in turn  was said to have given assurance   that the CBN,  has the technical competence, manpower and equipment  to print  the currency  for local needs.

He may have taken the decision   that no new naira Notes should be minted abroad because of the huge amount spent by the apex bank in embarking on such project in the past.  The CBN, was said to have spent the sum of N58.62 billion naira, to print N2.52 billion naira Notes valued at about 1.063 trillion naira in 2020.

The Nigerian President who is not happy over he turn out of events in the country  over the last couple of weeks where Nigerians are finding it difficult make withdrawals in the banks after depositing their old naira Notes  due to shortage of funds was said to have told the APC, governors who  are worried  that the policy may have a negative impact on the party performance on the 2023, general elections   may have  impressed it on Buhari  to do something urgent to address the challenge before the situation gets out of hand.

President Muhammadu Buhari

Recall that in apparent response to the APC governors demand, the President had promised ‘’to go back ‘’to the CBN governor, to find out what is happening’’.   Although, he may not have seen anything wrong with the steps that had been taken by the CBN, so far,  to resolve the naira swap crisis in the country as he has accused  the Commercial banks  of ‘’greed and  gross inefficiency in meeting the need  of Customers’’.

 The CBN , had earlier fixed the deadline for the swap of the old naira for the new Notes on January 31, 2023, but the response from the banks was very slow that the people had cried out, forcing the  regulatory body to extend it to February 10, 2023,and got the Presidential approval for it.

Given the difficulty in people exchanging their old naira Notes for the new Notes may have encouraged the Nigerian President to give an additional one week period of grace, for those who would not be unable to swap their old naira Notes for the newly redesigned Notes between January 31, 2023 and February 10, 2023, to do so. The President fears that that the Money Deposit banks may not be able to meet their obligation to Customers. He believes that ‘’a further extension of the naira swap deadline won’t even help them’’.

Aware that the  Presidential and National Assembly is just about three weeks away from now, the Nigerian Commander –In-Chief of the Armed Forces, C-In-C, and Chief Security Officer,   has asked Nigerians on Friday , February , February 3, 2023,  to given him seven days  to resolve  the cash crunch  in the country following  the CBN, redesigning of the new naira Notes, an indications that new naira Notes may be printed outside the country to meet the shortfall.

CBN New Naira Notes, But Difficult To Get

  There is no gain saying the fact that information may have filtered into the ears of the President through his foot soldiers that the banks are doing business with the new naira Notes and thus, creating  the artificial shortage as those that collaborate with them sell  to make profit.  Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity may have hit the nail on the head when he said that’’ the banks which are grossly inefficient are only concerned  themselves ‘’ .  

Take for instance, in Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve center, to withdraw N5000.00 of the new naira Notes if found in  a point of Sale, POS, the Customer was made to part  with a service charge of N500.00 but the bank approved charge was N400.00 instead of the usual N100.00 previously charged  while a N10,000.00  withdrawal of the new naira Notes  attracts a service charge of N1,000.00. The situation is not different from PortHarcourt , Capital of Rivers state where a N5000.00 withdrawal from a POS, attracts n1,000, service charge while N10,000.00 , a withdrawal  attracts N2,000.00 charge.

Mefiele, the CBN, governor, may have made mockery of the implementation  new monetary policy as the banks could no longer meet the demand of their Customers but have resorted to  rationing the new naira Notes  available in their vault on a daily basis.

 The Value News was at one of the UBA plc, branches at Ikeja to make a withdrawal on Friday, February 3, 2023,  but was told point blank that they got a directive  from the Headquarters to dispense  only N2,000.00 0f the new naira Notes to each of the bank  Customer, irrespective of the amount the Customer had intended to withdraw .

 The online Magazine learnt that the Customers who had showed up at the bank the previous day were given N1,000.00 of the new naira Notes each, thus turning them to beggars . The situation was the same in other bank branches in other parts of Lagos state.

The problem may not have stopped there. The banks appear to have perfected plans to take advantage of the ugly situation in the country to defraud their Customers through the POS. A Customer who had entered a POS Operator shop on Friday, February 3, 2023, to withdraw money since he could not make any withdrawal from the bank was disappointed.

The POS Operator had printed his payment slip showing successful and the amount deducted from his  Account, but refused to pay him on the ground that  that there was no payment from the  bank to do so. In anger, the Customer on the advice of the POS operator had had gone to one of the bank branches at Alimosho Local government Area, to lodge Complaint.  His phone No. was taken, with a promise that it will be reversed. The POS operator was said to have also lodged similar Complaints. As at press time the debited amount has not been credited to his Account.

Baba: IGP: Enforces The CN 2007, Act

 Aware that some POS Operators and Individuals have cashed in the scarcity of the newly designed naira Notes to sell it may have informed why   Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, has ordered his men on Friday, February 3, 2023,   ‘’to arrest, detain and prosecute any individual engaged in the ale  or abuse of  the  naira Notes  issued by the CBN’’.

The IGP, was said to have ordered the Deputy Inspector- General, DIG, of Police, in-charge  of the Force  Criminal Investigations DepartmentCID,  and Assistant Inspector- General,AIG, of Police,  in-charge  of   the Force Intelligence Bureau, FIB,  to place officers  and men of the Department  and the Bureau,  across the country on  the red alert.

He was said to have also ordered  the Commissioners of Police  in-charge  of  thevarious state Police Commands and Formations  to carry out full ‘’enforcement  of the provisions  of sections 20 and 21  of the CBN  ACT, 2007, which criminalizes amongst  other things , hawking, selling   or otherwise trading , spraying  of , dancing or matching  of bank  Notes, refusal to accept  the Naira as a means of payment, tampering with the Coin or Notes issued by the CBN’’.

The IGP directive to the DIG, CID and AIG, ,FIB, including the State CPs, may have sent a message to the POS operators and Individuals , selling the new naira  Notes  to desperate Nigerians, in major streets in Lagos and other cities and  towns  across the country that the game is up. This may have forced many of them to go underground to avoid playing into the hands of IGP Usman’s menpatroling the streets.

In a related development to the hardship faced by Nigerians over the implementation of the naira swap by the CBN, may have been turned into a political issue by those seeking elective office for the 2023, general elections.

 Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo and one of the members of aggrieved G5 or Integrity Group, in the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, opposed to Senator Iyorchia Ayu, leadership of  the party,  was said to have suspended  the ongoing  Campaign  in Local  government Areas of the ate  until further notice. He was due to Campaign in Ido LGA, on Friday , February 3, 2023, but could not keep to it in solidarity with the suffering  people of the state .  The campaign train   which was to move to Oluyole LGA, on Saturday, February 4, 2023, was said to have been called it off.    

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