Banks Pump More Naira Notes Into Circulation, Cash Crunch Expected To Ease Soon

The CBN Releases More Money Into The Economy As Nigerians Begin To See Some Changes

05:49 PM WAT, Mon March 27, 2023

There were slight traces of improvement in the Nigerian economy as commercial banks began to dispense more cash to customers nationwide after the Central Bank of Nigeria promised to address the lack of the Naira notes.

This comes after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it had evacuated old N1,000 and N500 banknotes from its vaults to commercial banks across the country.

Hours after the CBN issued the order on Friday, banks began dispensing more cash to the public. While some banks said only certain branches would be open to customers, others said that all branches would be in operation at the weekend.

The Apex bank decision came the day the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) directed its affiliate members to picket state branches of the apex beginning Wednesday March, 29. The organized Labour also directed workers to sit-at-home to protest the cash crisis.

However, on Thursday March 23, the CBN met with the NLC and pleaded with the Labour union to shelf the planned protest. The NLC president, Comrade Joe Ajaero, had said the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NLC will be meeting on Tuesday March 28 to reassess and review cash availability across the nation and finalize its strategies.

Meanwhile, Femi Falana SAN, National Chairman of Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) has declared support for the protest. “Solidarity for the action promised by the NLC, which if anything is overdue. We look forward to being able to assist with the pickets of the CBN offices in every state and providing any support that we can for the planned stay at home action," he said.

In many parts of Lagos, on Monday March 27, Access24 observed that banks were dispensing cash. Some banks disbursed through over the counter (OTC) while others dispensed via Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), other banks dispensed through both.

Although most of the banks were dispensing a maximum of N10,000 to customers, which may cause more hardship for those who need extra money to go about their daily lives, some were dispensing up to N40,000 to customers.

In Alaba International Market, Ojo, FCMB paid through its ATMs only, customers were not allowed into the bank. An employee with the bank said they were having issues. FCMB's account holders could withdraw up to N40,000 while other bank users could withdraw N10,000 from the ATM.

Stanbic IBTC witnessed a long queue as they began payment through their ATMs and over the counter. Stanbic IBTC account holders could withdraw up to N30,000 while other bank users were pegged at N10,000.

Meanwhile, Guaranty Trust Bank paid N2,000 to customers over the counter. The  ATMs were not loaded with cash. Unity Bank paid N10,000 to all customers over the counter only due to faulty ATM.

As of the time of filing this report, the Fidelity Bank branch in Alaba International Market was not dispensing money through its ATMs or paying customers over the counter.

Some customers who spoke to Access24, said the situation was frustrating economic activities and livelihoods, adding that the CBN's response to the naira scarcity by releasing the old notes back into the economy was slow.

"We have suffered a lot with this issue of cash. It's been a long time since I've held N40,000 cash in my hands. CBN didn't handle the matter the right, Nigerians are truly disappointed with how the apex bank handled the naira redesign policy. When they knew they would still pump out the old currency, why didn't they leave it in circulation right from the beginning," Bridget Popoola told Access24.

She however said dispensing more cash into the economy will ensure that Nigerians can go about their daily lives without financial constraints unlike before.

Philips, an Accountant, told Access24 that CBN's Governor Godwin Emefiele's naira redesign policy is a failure and he should have resigned for the disastrous outcome of the policy and what is being witnessed by over 200 million Nigerians.

"The naira redesign policy and cashless policy should have been done in pilot stages like then Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Sanusi Lamido did. Secondly, it's wrong to tell people how much of their money they can withdraw daily," he said. 

Philips added that "The CBN's response to the cash scarcity was extremely slow. The moment we saw videos of a man going naked in a banking hall, that was a red signal for the CBN governor to get to action."

He appreciated Godwin Emefiele for pumping in more cash into the economy, but said Emefiele ought to have resigned for wasting taxpayers' money.

Jide Onanuga, an Entrepreneur, said although he's been able to access more money than before, the CBN under Emefiele approached this issue without seriousness.

"Getting the amount of cash I needed today was surprising. The excess cash being dispensed into the economy is making things bearable. However the CBN governor was not people-centric about the naira redesign policy. He toyed with millions of lives. So many things have been lost" says Onanuga.

The cash crunch has destabilized the Nigerian economy for over two months with small and micro businesses part of those bearing the brunt. The Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, said economic experts and analysts have stated that the loss in economic terms could be over N20 trillion as a result of loss of productive hours in bank halls and petrol stations, shut-down of businesses due to low patronage, the inability of employees to transit to work, challenges faced by households in meeting basic needs and the general distortion in the general supply chain.

Last Friday, the CBN directed all commercial banks to open for operation on Saturdays and Sundays. Acting Director, the Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Dr. Isa AbdulMumin, said the apex bank had directed all banks to load their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) as well as conduct physical operations in the banking halls through the weekends.

He urged Nigerians to be patient as the present situation would ease soon with the injection of more banknotes into circulation