The rationing of naira note payments by banks continued across the nation yesterday with customers being paid a maximum of N20,000 each.
The payments were made only to those who arrived at the banks in the early hours of the day. But as the day progressed, the payments were reduced to between N5,000 and N10,000.
As early as 1 pm yesterday, many banks in Abuja municipality and Lagos had run out of cash, leaving many of their customers disappointed.
The Nation’s investigations revealed that the limited quantity of cash made available to the banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was responsible for the rationing.
In nearly all the banks visited, officials, who asked not to be identified, said they only relied on limited cash (old and new notes) they received from the apex bank to make payments to their customers.
One of the officials in Abuja said: “Customers were paid between N20,000, N10,000 and N5,000 cash in old denominations over the counter (OTC). Only a few Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) had cash to dispense.”
He added: “The CBN only marginally increased its daily allocation to the banks. The increase was not enough to meet banks’ daily demands for cash.”
A customer of one of the banks, who gave his name only Mr Pius, said he was able to withdraw N20,000 from his bank around 12 noon.
In Lagos, there were visible long queues of customers on the premises of many banks that made payments across the counters and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
A customer in Ibeju-Lekki said: “I waited for three hours from 8. am to 11 am before I was paid N10,000. I will be back tomorrow because the N10,000 cannot meet my immediate financial needs.”
But another customer, who was unable to make a withdrawal at a branch on Victoria Island, said he had expected that the cash scarcity would have abated.
“I have checked in over 10 banks’ ATMs and none was dispensing cash. I expected the cash crunch to ease after the presidential elections, but that is not happening, ” he lamented.
As the cash crunch continues, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has said that the lame response by President Buhari to the Supreme Court order on Naira swap was only meant to deceive the nation.
The CNG, through its spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, said it is curious that days after the directive by the President, naira scarcity is showing no sign of abetting.
It wondered ” why neither Buhari nor CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele has found it helpful to address the nation on the new directive the way they did when they introduced the policy.”
Some residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have, however, called on the CBN to release more banknotes to ease the hardship.
The residents lamented that there has not been any noticeable improvement in terms of the availability of the old N500 and N1,000 notes.
They said it was worrisome that three days after the directive for their use till December. 31, queues still persisted in banks.
According to them, some banks are not dispensing cash some are dispensing as low as N2,000.
Meanwhile, the acceptance of old notes (N500 and N1,000) is gradually being accepted by traders, artisans and transporters.
A plantain seller in Wuse, Abuja said: “I am no longer waiting to hear from President Muhammadu Buhari concerning the fate of the old N500 and N1,000 notes..”