The intensity of Naira scarcity eased over the weekend with reports that several commercial banks received more supply from the Central Bank of Nigeria which also directed banks across the country to conduct their business operations on Saturdays and Sundays to solve the cash crunch Nigerians have experienced in the last few months. The apex
The intensity of Naira scarcity eased over the weekend with reports that several commercial banks received more supply from the Central Bank of Nigeria which also directed banks across the country to conduct their business operations on Saturdays and Sundays to solve the cash crunch Nigerians have experienced in the last few months.
The apex bank announced on Thursday that it would be evacuating substantial banknotes to commercial banks to ease the tension of the cash crunch across the country. The announcement also coincided with a declaration by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to call out workers on Wednesday on a national strike action where they would picket the CBN and all its branches across the country.
The NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero said the workers have had to bear the brunt of the effect of Naira scarcity which became so bad that workers have been forced to use Naira to buy which have had a telling effect on the salaries of workers. As a result of the cash scarcity, it became difficult for Nigerians to make business transactions. Consequently, many small businesses have been forced to shut down, with hunger pervading the land.
The CBN Naira swap policy and its deadline were challenged at the Supreme Court by some state governors and after some time the apex ruled that the Federal government did not follow the right procedures in arriving at the Naira swap policy. The Supreme Court consequently, ruled that the old notes should remain in circulation till December 31, 2023. Despite the judgement Naira scarcity persisted and the governors threatened to file a contempt suit against the CBN Governor and the Attorney General of the Federation.
The CBN, through the Acting Director Corporate Communication Department, Dr. Isa AbdulMumin, on Thursday issued a directive from the apex bank asking all commercial banks in the country to open on Saturdays and Sundays starting from the weekend to attend to customers’ cash needs.
The directive was complied with by the banks in major cities. The Automatic Teller Machines were loaded continuously with cash and withdrawal limits varied from bank to bank. At some banks customers could only take a maximum of N20,000.00 in maximum of two instalments only in a day. In other banks it was less or more.
Monitoring the compliance in Ibadan, Oyo state, it was observed that the commercial banks like United Bank of Africa (UBA) First Bank, Access Bank, Union Bank, Ecobank, and Fidelity opened to attend to their customers who were in the long queues as they were attempting to enter the banking halls to withdraw cash. Also, huge crowds were seen on long queues at the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) making effort to withdraw cash at different banks.
Some of the customers who spoke with the NDR commended the CBN for directing the commercial banks to open during the weekend, saying that the apex bank has decided to ease the hardship Nigerians are experiencing. A customer at United Bank Africa, Gbagi Market Mrs acknowledged the development as a relief to Nigerians who have gone through difficulties to make transactions. “I am glad the government has finally listened to us by making cash available for us all. The cash scarcity has caused many people to suffer, but now that it looks like everything is changing we are relieved”, she said.
Another customer at Access Bank at Iwo Road, Mr. Okeagbu appreciated the development and encouraged the apex bank to be more consistent with the weekends’ operation policy and more circulation of banknotes. “I think we should still commend the CBN and the Nigeria Labour Congress for making life easier for us. But as you can see in the queue, many people might not be able to get their needed cash, but it will be good if they can make the banks open every weekend until the cash circulates like before”.
A staff of the United Bank of Africa who spoke under anonymity said they had to comply with the order made by the Central Bank of Nigeria. She also noted that all operations staff had to come despite being weekends to ensure there is a circulation of the cash. She also added the bank only allowed a maximum withdrawal of N20,000 at the banks.
Following the easing of the Naira squeeze, it is yet to be seen what the action of the NLC would be on its proposed strike to picket the CBN and all its branches. But the NLC has scheduled a meeting of its National Executive Committee for tomorrow where the situation will be reviewed and further directives given.