How naira scarcity can be resolved – Financial expert

Nigerians have continued to experience scarcity of the naira notes since the January 31 deadline issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on the swap of the currency.

The CBN had earlier set a January 31 deadline for the use of the old naira notes. It was later extended to February 10. However, following the Supreme Court order, many Nigerians had thought the date would be further extended, but that has not come to be.

SAHEL gathered that many customers who thronged commercial banks this week to deposit old naira notes were bewildered as the banks refused to accept the notes, citing CBN order.

Recall that CBN had announced the redesign of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes in October 2022, and asked Nigerians to deposit their old notes before January 31, 2023.

Speaking on the development, the Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice, CSJ, and a Financial expert, Eze Onyekpere blamed the CBN for the scarcity of the naira notes.

He told DAILY POST that the CBN should have started releasing the new naira notes six months ago before mopping up the old notes.

According to Onyekpere: “The CBN should push money or liquidity into the system, they have picked up over N2.1 trillion from their last statement, and nobody is sure of the exact quantum of money they have put into the system.

“But indications are that they have not put in more than N300 billion. So they should simply put more notes into the system.

“What is happening now is also a product of their poor planning; if they had wanted to go cashless as they are planning to do now, they would have engaged the banks to expand the electronic banking portals because it seems like it was designed for maybe 20-30 transactions per day and now it’s forced to do more than 100 million per day.

“There is no way it will cope because Nigerians have no access to cash and electronic money portals are not working as they should.

“The first thing the CBN should do is to put more money into the system; let the economy start, and then the banks should expand their electronic money portals so that more transactions can pass through. This is something that should have been done in the past six months to prepare the banks to carry the new quantum of electronic money transactions compared to what they have before.

“The people were not sensitised, and the banks were not ready capacity-wise, so the CBN should cease the siege on Nigerians and get more money into the system. Nigerians have suffered enough; they should ease the pressure and let my people go; we can afford to do better.

“We have paid the old naira notes into the banks, so CBN should release the new ones. If they have been releasing the new naira notes from the time they started paying, there wouldn’t have been a problem. The issue is not about time now but for the CBN to do the needful.

“They have not put enough, and they have not been able to tell us the quantum they put, so what would be the interest of lying that banks hoard the money? Who was hoarding money in November or October?

“It’s only when you create a scarcity that people would start hoarding money, in November or October, people have no reason to hoard money because it was in good supply. This is the first time in history I have heard that people are using money to buy money.

“Emefiele and his team should wake up and put more money into the system, unless they enjoy making people suffer.”

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