…Massive Protests in Lagos …Banks Can Now Pay N20,000.00 Across the Counter …CBN Modifies Policy The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele has been in the eye of the storm since his announcement on Wednesday, October 26,2022 to redesign three denominations of Naira Notes and the intended deeper implementation of cashless policy, those knowledgeable in macro and
…Massive Protests in Lagos
…Banks Can Now Pay N20,000.00 Across the Counter
…CBN Modifies Policy
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele has been in the eye of the storm since his announcement on Wednesday, October 26,2022 to redesign three denominations of Naira Notes and the intended deeper implementation of cashless policy, those knowledgeable in macro and micro economics warned that it would raise a lot of dusts, controversies and protests. There has been a widespread restiveness across Nigeria.
There has been different kinds of reactions at various banking halls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) all over Nigeria as bank customers experience acute shortage of the new Naira notes. Protesters hit the streets of Lagos on Thursday asking the banks, particularly the apex bank to make the new Naira notes available. The protests grounded certain parts of Lagos Island and there were fears that they could spread to other parts of the State and other states of Nigeria.
To douse the upscaling tension that is already building over the difficulties being experienced by customers, the CBN on Thursday, directed commercial banks to commence paying the newly redesigned naira notes to customers over the counter. It stated that the new mode of payment is subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.
The policies, more than any policy of this administration in the last eight years have attracted critical screening, skepticism and outright condemnation by the high, mighty and the poor. But the apex bank assured the nation that it is like labour pain;once mother and baby leaves the labour room, the pain would ease off and seamlessly go in few days.
The people’s representatives at the National Assembly were not too comfortable with the implementation of the policy. The governors; elected leaders of the people blew the whistle and engaged the governor of the CBN. Mr. Emefiele stood his ground.
He only shifted grounds few days ago, precisely on January 29,2023 when he announced the extension of the deadline for the validity of the old N200,N500 and N1000 notes from January 31st to February 10,2023.
The extension was designed to be like a soothing balm to the pains and anger of bank customers who now resume in banking halls instead of their places of work. Even at that, they fail to have access to money in their bank accounts this forcing frustrated customers to resort to alternative means of cash withdrawal following the scarcity of naira Notes in the banks.
The CBN had directed commercial banks to load the few notes issued to them into the Automated Teller Machines (ATM). Bank customers now wake up very early to keep vigil at the ATM stands. Over-the-counter, customers are paid as low as N1000,in some generous bank branches. In most banks, they only collect the old naira Notes and direct their customers to use their ATM card to withdraw at the machines which are always empty.
This situation has instigated not a few protests in the banking halls where some customers in viral video seen going nude to compel the bankers to pay them something substantial. It got to a climax on Thursday when the Coalition of Civil Society Groups staged a peaceful protest at Marina Lagos. The protesters had only one stanza;” all we are saying, give us new notes”.
Reacting to the pains being experienced by Nigerians who couldn’t withdraw or transfer money from their accounts, the Bankers’ Committee in it’s emergency meeting on Wednesday, February 1, this year took nine key decisions to mitigate customers’ pains. They said:
“Following the Emergency Bankers’ Committee meeting held earlier today February 1, 2023, please find below the key decisions for your immediate compliance:
“Against the backdrop of reports of increasing system downtime and transaction failures on POS, USSD, NIP channels, all banks are required to ensure 24/7 system uptime and transaction failures reduced to the barest minimum.
“In view of increasing customer complaints on resolution of failed transactions, all banks are required to implement immediate auto reversals on failed POS, NIP and Web transactions failing which the CBN will legislate auto reversals below a certain threshold
“Banks are encouraged to explore the option of re-routing failed transactions to other alternative electronic channels to ensure that customers’ accounts are not debited with the attendant negative impact on customer experience and confidence.
“All banks shall embrace and encourage increased adoption of NQR as additional alternative payment channel for merchants to boost electronic transactions. In this regard, the MD NIBSS shall provide daily activity reports on adoption and volume of NQR transactions to the Governor. The DG FSS shall monitor to ensure compliance.
“Banks are permitted to commence payment of the re-designed Naira notes over the counter, subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000 in order to ease the pressure on ATMs. New Naira notes allocated to banks shall be apportioned in the ratio 40:30:30 for Agent Cash Swaps, Over-the-Counter and ATMs respectively
“The CBN and law enforcement agents shall monitor banks’ compliance with the cash withdrawal limits and sanction any erring bank accordingly. Some vulnerable areas of Lagos (Badagry, Ikorodu and Epe) to benefit from on-going cash swap through agents. Banks shall evacuate at least 75% of the balance of the old Naira notes in their vaults to the CBN.
“Please note and be guided accordingly”, the statement warned.
To douse the tension that is already building over the difficulties being experienced by customers, the CBN on Thursday, directed commercial banks to commence paying the newly redesigned naira notes to customers over the counter.
A statement posted on the apex bank’s website also warned Nigerians at social functions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals, to desist from disrespecting the Naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies.
It stated that the new mode of payment is subject to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.
“We, therefore, warn Nigerians, particularly those at social functions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals, to desist from disrespecting the Naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies.
‘While reiterating our commitment to Nigerians to ensure the effective
distribution of the newly introduced Naira banknotes, we urge them to exercise patience as the CBN is working assiduously to address the challenge of queues at ATMs.
The CBN also in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Osita Nwanisobi, on Thursday vowed to arrest people selling the newly redesigned banknotes and those who flagrantly abuse the notes at social functions across the country.
The apex bank said it will partner with security agencies to ensure that erring members of the public who abuse the new notes are arrested and duly punished in accordance with extant laws.
Perhaps reacting to multiple video clips of people “spraying” the notes at social functions surfaced on social media platforms, the bank warned that the days of abusers of the Naira are numbered.
“We wish to state unequivocally that, contrary to the practice of these unpatriotic persons, it is unlawful to sell the Naira, hurl (spray), or stamp on the currency under any circumstance whatsoever,” he said.
The statement noted that Section 21(3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 (As amended) stipulates that “spraying of, dancing or matching on the Naira or any note issued by the Bank during social occasions or otherwise howsoever shall constitute an abuse and defacing of the Naira or such note and shall be punishable under the law by fines or imprisonment or both.”
“Similarly, Section 21(4) states that “It shall also be an offence punishable under Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank,” the statement said
Because of the scarcity of the new notes Point of Sale(POS) operators,as it they held an Annual General Meeting (AGM) operators now charge 10 percent of whatever is going to be withdrawn.
Hopes are , however, high that with the decision of the Bankers’ Committee and the apex bank, the redesigned notes would soon be available in reasonable quantity and customers would spend reasonable time at banks.
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