New naira notes: Load ATMs with lower denominations, customers advise banks

SOME bank customers in Lagos have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to compel commercial banks to load their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with lower denominations of the naira.

The customers spoke in separate interviews with a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who monitored banks’ ATMs in Agege, Egbeda, Iyana Ipaja and other parts of Lagos on Tuesday.

NAN reports that almost all the ATMs visited had problems paying cash leaving customers on queues for hours.

Some ATMs displayed “out of service” message on their monitors, while others were unable to dispense cash due to network problems.

The CBN had ordered banks to load their ATMs with the new naira notes to ensure Nigerians had access to them.

The redesigned naira notes comprising N200, N500 and N1000, came into use on Dec. 15, 2022, after they were unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nov. 23, 2022 in Abuja.

The CBN had earlier fixed Jan. 31 as deadline for the collection of old naira notes, but later extended the time limit to Feb. 10.

The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the extension was to allow Nigerians that had naira legitimately earned and trapped, the opportunity to deposit their money for exchange.

Mr Collins Aburime, an artisan, said he liked a situation where the lower denominations like the N100, N50 and N20 were dispensed to ease the stress experienced by many residents.

“I usually don’t come to the ATM to withdraw money because my customers always pay me in cash.

“But since CBN said the old notes will expire soon, I decided to ask my customers to do transfers to my bank account.

“Now I cannot even see my money to withdraw anywhere, this is the third ATM that I have been to today.

“If the banks do not have the new notes to load in the machines, why don’t they load it with the lower denominations that are still legal tender for people to see what they can use to feed,” he queried.

In the same vein, Mrs Ruth Abanishe, a business woman, who commended the apex bank for extending the deadline, urged CBN to come to their aid as people were still struggling to get the new notes.

“So, the extention is good so that everybody will be able to change old notes in their possession to the new money.

“You can also see how people are suffering on queues because banks are not paying and most of the machines are slow, the network is not stable.

“Instead of allowing people to line up for hours, wasting their precious time, they should have loaded the machines with the lower denominations, since those are still legal tender,” she said.

The Centre for Human and Socio-economic Rights and Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Lagos State branch, has also advised the apex bank to make the smaller denominations more available.

The organisation gave the advice in a statement jointly signed by Mr Alex Omotehinse, President, CHSR and Mr Kehinde Adeoye, State Chairman CDHR, Lagos branch.

It said, “CSHR/CDHR as a body gives kudos to President Muhammed Buhari for tilting and listening to the voice of Nigerians in extending the old naira notes deadline date till Feb. 10.

“But it’s not yet time for jubilation untill the new naira notes are in circulation in all nooks and crannies of the country before we can give thumbs up to the initiative under the leadership of the CBN Governor Mr Godwin Emefiele.

“We also call on the CBN Governor to make N100 and N50 notes more available to the Nigeria populace.” (NAN)