Some residents in Sokoto State have lamented the scarcity of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes.
With barely one week to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) January 31st deadline for the old notes, some locals in Sokoto decried that some businesses in the state, including commercial transportation, insisted on accepting only the new currency.
This has led to some confusion among residents with thousands of residents thronging to automated teller machines (ATMs) on Tuesday to get the new notes to no avail.
Channels Television observed that most ATMs in the metropolis were crowded with most of them failing to dispense any cash.
Many households say they have found it difficult to meet their needs as several businesses have reportedly shut down as many petty traders are lamenting the negative impact of the situation on their businesses.
Withdrawing Old Bills
One resident, Alhaji Aliyu Umar, who bemoaned the sparse circulation of the new notes, called on the Federal government to extend the time “because people are suffering” and one cannot buy or sell anything.
On his part, Mr Ibekwe Sam stated that it is difficult for one to use the old currency to buy anything because many businesses are rejecting it.
“People are refusing to collect it; things are just very hard. If you go to the bank, you can’t access the bank to get your money. Everything is just difficult,” he said.
“If you look at the bank now, you’ll see everywhere crowded, ATMs and so on. If you want to buy something now, somebody will say no that he cannot collect it because he’s not sure of changing it in the bank.
“You go to the bank and you cannot even get the new currency. The new currency is very scarce. I went to the bank the other day to get some money, it was old currency they gave me – about N50,000.”
A trader, Mrs Nora Sam, told our correspondent that patronage had dwindled because customers don’t have the new currency.
“The banks don’t have the new ones, so how can we do it? People are coming with old ones and if you refuse to collect, the business will no longer move. So, what do we do?
“That is why the thing is affecting us seriously because anybody that comes will say, ‘Madam, I have old ones o! Will you collect?’ I say, ‘I will collect,’” she said.
Efforts to speak to bank officials on the reason some of the ATM machines are not dispensing cash was unsuccessful.
However, a source in one of the commercial banks said the new notes are scarce at banks and only the CBN can make them available to go round to arrest this growing confusion and tension.
Given the apparent scarcity of new notes, residents appealed to the authorities to extend the January 31st deadline as they called for government intervention against those rejecting the notes before the deadline.
Some operators of the point-of-sale (PoS) machines in town are making brisk business as they are charging exorbitant charges on withdrawal of new notes.