Lack of cash crumbling business activities, livelihood in Nigeria

Africa’s most populous country Nigeria has withdrawn 200-, 500- and 1000-naira notes from circulation following the redesign of the Nigerian currency.

On 26 October, 2022, Nigeria’s Apex bank the central bank of Nigeria CBN announced the introduction of redesigned three high denomination of the naira notes into the country’s financial system.

According to tthe CBN, the policy was designed to mop up excess cash of over three trillion naira ($6.5Billion) outside the banking system.

After the unveiling of the notes people have been struggling to access them from banks and Automated teller machine (ATM) cash points.

Since the full implementation of the policy on February 1, and the deadline for validity of the old notes passed, getting the new naira notes has been a challenge.

Friday Okobi, a Cooperate Driver has had a tough time accessing the notes.

‘I Cannot go to the market to buy anything to eat, my children are home now they can’t go to school’ he says.

Okobi faults the nonavailability of the Naira at Banks and ATM points, ‘I have seen the new naira notes but I cannot see it to spend. I see it in people’s hand. When you go to the bank, banks are not able to give you the new naira notes, at the ATM no money.”

He adds that “They will ask you to POS operators, they will charge you. For example, if you want to collect like 20,000 naira cash, they will charge you 4000 naira.’

For Johnson Temitope an I.T Expert the fact that people have to pay more charges than usual to get the naira is something many have had to come to term with.

‘As it is now, people are using Naira to buy Naira. They are using money to buy money, the money they are using to buy money is even more than usual.’ said Temitope.

He continues ‘For some few days now, the money has been so scarce, when I went to the bank there was no note to give. There is this bank around, there are a lot of queues in the bank.’

The policy is one that is receiving accolade from some section of the society.

‘Though we will suffer a little now, it will help (the redesign) the government retrieve stashed monies. It can help to trace this banditry, this ransom that people pay for Kidnapping and the rest of them’. said Ekwe Okorie a quantity Surveyor.

Backing the naira redesign, Okorie says ‘I believe if ransoms were paid via transfer, it can be very much easier for security agencies to track the flow of cash.’

While people continue to grapple with the scarcity of cash challenge, the industrial sector is also lamenting the policy, Francis Meshioye the president of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) said the scarcity of the Naira is having an impact on production output.

Speaking on the impact of the scarcity, Meshioye said ‘it is affecting all economy and manufacturing sector in particular, because inability of people to access cash particularly for products that cannot be easily procured by electronic transfer will imply, they will be backlog in the stock of those goods.’

The MAN President adds “When you have backlog of stock, it means you tying down your money. It means it may have effect on production line, because production line may have to slow down.

It is either you pay the labours compulsorily or you laid them off, and this ripple effect may not be good for the economy.’

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday February 16 announced that one of the old currency notes 200 naira would remain in circulation for 60 days to cushion the impact.

Correspondent David Taylor reports that following President Buhari’s announcement, the old 200 naira note remains legal tender till April 10, Nigerians are hopeful that the scarcity of the naira which has disrupted business and their way of life will soon be a thing of the past.

However Buhari’s announcement comes despite the Supreme Court saying the old notes remain valid.

Africa| News