It's been a disappointing tale all the way from Lagos, the country's economic hub, through Port Harcourt State, home to Nigeria's oil industry, and back to every other State in Nigeria.
Many people had already complied with the January 31 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to spend the old N1000, N500, and N200 notes before introducing the new, redesigned notes. However, on January 30, the CBN declared that the deadline would be moved to February 10, 2023.
While it's true that many Nigerians have deposited old currency into their respective banks in anticipation of receiving new naira notes, they've been left feeling disillusioned after receiving none.
Daily, thousands of Nigerians line up outside banks at 5 a.m. to be among the first to use the new naira notes being distributed by the central bank of Nigeria (CBN). However, while the CBN has set a daily withdrawal limit of N20,000, many people only receive N5,000 or less, and some receive less than N3,000, sending them home empty-handed.
Over the past week, the crowds at banks around the country have occasionally needed clarification for those attending political rallies. This strange occurrence has halted operations at several companies. Still-active POS vendors may charge N700 on N5000 and occasionally even N1000. The internet payment services that may aid have also been ineffective, with several reports of transactions failing to go through. This is adding to the frustration felt by many Nigerians over the ongoing gasoline shortage.
Our country could not be facing a worse period right now. Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun said last week that he would be postponing his reelection campaign due to the unsustainable conditions brought on by the currency exchange and gasoline shortage.
Since his administration is sympathetic to the people's predicament, election campaigning in the state will stop until economic activity returns to normal, Gov. Abiodun said. The situation, he assured the citizens, will improve shortly.
Some banks reportedly have been using harsh tactics by refusing to distribute the new naira notes and instead opting to stockpile them before selling them off to the highest bidder, leaving many Nigerians cash-strapped and suffering unnecessarily.
In light of this, many Nigerians hope that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the relevant government institutions will act swiftly to eliminate any obstacles to the smooth rollout of this naira swap.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should extend the deadline for this policy from February 10 to June 01, 2023, so that banks have more time to strengthen their IT infrastructure so that it can accommodate the number of transactions that this cashless policy already forces on Nigerians.
Since its inception, POS operators have been an enormous aid, and they should also be considered. It's been helpful in places around the nation where there aren't any banks, and it's also a natural means of subsistence for many people.
Since one of the most critical roles of government is to watch out for the well-being of its citizens, all hands must now be on deck to alleviate the awful circumstances Nigerians have been forced to endure over the past week. Traditional wisdom states that "a stitch in time saves nine."