Cash crunch eases as banks, ATMs dispense cash; rationing continues

Posted by Nduka Chiejina, Kolade Adeyemi, Sunny Nwankwo, AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Damian Duruiheoma and Yinka Ade | 3 months ago

The Nation

After several weeks of hardship occasioned by the naira scarcity, some semblance of sanity yesterday began to return to the banking halls and ATM points as customers were able to access cash with less stress than before.


Although many customers who thronged the various banks and ATM points could not get as much cash as they desired, there was an appreciable improvement on what had prevailed since January.

The Central Bank (CBN),in an apparent move to avert the planned strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)  over the naira scarcity, had ordered the banks to open yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday) to enable Nigerians access cash.

The apex bank itself threw its vaults open for  the banks to have cash to circulate.

However, supply from the CBN to the commercial banks as at yesterday fell far below demand.

Industry sources had told The Nation  that the scarcity would still linger for some more  time in view of the current high demand for cash, especially by individuals.

In Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, Enugu and other cities and towns, customers besieged the banks as early as they found it convenient to draw money from their accounts or withdraw from the ATMs.

Customers were seen standing on queues entering the banking halls one after another.

The banks that opened for operations along Nyanya-Mararaba road include First City Monument Bank (FCMB), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Zenith Bank, First Bank, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank, and Access Bank.

Mrs Ngozi Ugoh, a customer at Access Bank said she did not know about the CBN directive.

She claimed to  have seen  a large crowd in her bank.She joined them and was attended to.

”I didn’t know about the directive of opening at weekends but I was just passing by and saw people so I entered to see if I can get some cash,” she said.

Another customer, Mr Andy Jerry seen at Zenith Bank described the development as a welcome one.

He believed the  banks were complying with the CBN directive to work during the weekend to shelve the planned protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to the apex bank.

”I think the CBN compelled banks to work weekends so that the protest by NLC will not hold.

”I like this because it will give more time for people to access cash,” he said.

Miss Stephanie Ikpe commended the CBN for the directive.

She said the development would help reduce the cash crunch currently being experienced by the masses.

Ikpe appealed to the CBN to monitor banks to ensure that their weekend operations continued.

Many of the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) resorted to rationing cash to enable as many people as possible benefit.

The branch of a tier one bank in Garki paid  customers N10,000 each over the counter, while other branches of the same bank in other locations paid as much as N20,000.

A second tier bank paid a maximum of N100,000 cash to customers.

A CBN official told The Nation yesterday that the apex bank “will sustain its release of cash to DMBs to meet customers’ demands.”

All the banks sent out messages to their customers informing them that they would be open for business yesterday and today as directed by the CBN.

Some bank customers in Kaduna expressed satisfaction with the CBN move  and called for ceaseless release of the old notes and allow them to co-exist with the new notes until the old notes are phased out.

An official of one of the banks said: “all our  branches are opened for business. In fact, we started giving out cash since yesterday (Friday) and we are still giving today. We are going to open tomorrow (today) too.

 “I can also assure you that we have received enough cash from the CBN and we are giving out cash to our customers without rationing it.”

Jos residents relieved, delighted

Bank customers in Jos were full of praises  for  the CBN yesterday as cash disbursement showed signs of improvement in the city.

One of them, Shedrach Dabut said: “I just received cash from the counter; I spent less than 20 minutes  unlike before. So I give  kudos to CBN for bringing us this relief.

Rosemary Agu said: “Well, everyone is happy now because we are getting cash from the banks and  ATMs. I’ve  just withdrawn N20,000.00 from an ATM”

Dauda Kawu said: “We thank CBN for releasing our cash.But they should release more cash to the banks and Point of Service (POS)  operators  to reduce the queues at ATMs.”

Most of the banks had limited cash and had to restrict the amount collected by customers.

Mrs Kachollom Bot, a vegetable dealer in Farin-gada market, said that there may be food shortage later in the year as many farmers had to either eat or sell off their seedlings in exchange for cash during the scarcity.

She asked the government and the CBN to be more proactive in the future in taking and making policies that had direct impacts on all Nigerians.

Banks load ATMs with cash in Enugu

Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) dispensed cash freely  in Enugu State yesterday bringing  much relief to cash strapped residents.

Other customers who chose to go to the banking halls also returned home with money.

One of the customers said: “I came  here when a neighbour told me that the banks opened to customers today and that they were paying N20,000 cash.

“So, I had to come to see for myself and as you can see, it’s almost my turn to be attended to.”

Large turnout of customers in Ibadan

There were mixed reactions from customers in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

While some commended the  CBN for its directive to the banks to open for business yesterday and today, some others described the move as avoidable stress for the people.

They were of the view that Nigerians would not have gone through the suffering of the last two months if the CBN had done the needful all along.

Rushed Babayomi said the complaints now being addressed by the apex bank ought to have been dealt with before now.

Kolapo Oladapo asked the CBN to direct the  banks to operate from 8am to 4pm daily to enable them attend to more  customers.

Queues reduce in Lagos as ATMs dispense cash

 Long queues at commercial banks in Lagos have suddenly disappeared following the injection of more bank notes into the system by the CBN.

A roving correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that Mr Ayotunde Dayo, a transporter, who expressed joy that the long queues were gone, urged the apex bank to adequately supply banks with enough cash that could go round for everyone to access.

He said:“This rationing of cash that banks are doing is not the best. When I heard that CBN had asked banks to begin to pay customers cash even on weekends, I was happy because the suffering of the people would reduce.

“But from the look of things, the sufferings will still continue because many banks only pay to their customers, if you are a non-customer, nothing for you.”

Mrs Paulina Ikechukwu, a secondary school teacher, urged the apex bank to ensure enough cash was moved to commercial banks and accessible by everyone.

“The banks need to be faster because the masses are dying of hunger since the naira redesign came on board.

“The CBN should monitor the banks and ensure they comply; the typical Nigerian banks that I know would start well now and do something else in the coming days,’’ she said.

The CB had on Friday launched what observers called frantic efforts to stave off the planned strike by the NLC over the naira scarcity.

The apex bank said it had commenced evacuation of banknotes from its vaults to commercial banks across the country.

It also  directed all commercial banks to open for operation yesterday and today .

The planned NLC strike was scheduled to commence on Wednesday.

However, the NLC said it  would deploy its officials to monitor the cash distribution promised by the CBN,and then convene on Tuesday  to review the situation.

President of the congress,Mr.Joe Ajaero  said whatever is achieved between now and Tuesday by the CBN will determine whether labour should  proceed with its planned strike on Wednesday.

Source: The Nation


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