- Despite the CBN's order of the release of old naira notes, naira scarcity continues
Barely three days after the Central Bank of Nigeria declared old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes as legal tender, Deposit Money Banks say they are beginning to run out of the old currencies.
The development led to severe hardship and pains for several bank customers seeking to withdraw funds on Wednesday.
The CBN had on Monday directed banks to pay out and accept the old notes from their customers.
This came after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, said he did not stop the CBN and the Attorney General of the Federation Office from complying with the Supreme Court judgement ordering that old naira notes should remain legal tender till December 31, 2023.
However, commercial banks which began the disbursements of old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes to their customers on Tuesday said on Wednesday that had started running out of the old currencies.
This made several bank customers to become stranded in banking halls as well as in major cities and towns.
While some bank officials said their stocks of old notes were beginning to run low, others said they had exhausted the old currencies in their vaults.
This happened amid an acute shortage of new notes which led to long queues in banking halls and Automate Teller Machine galleries in several cities and towns.
The CBN which has kept mute on whether it will release more old notes into circulation, is reportedly opposed to the recirculation of the old currencies due to its determination to push the cashless policy initiative to a logical end
Multiple sources close to the CBN told one of correspondents on Wednesday that the apex bank might not release the old notes in its custody to banks anytime soon, arguing that doing so might be tantamount to reversing the “progress” it had achieved on the cashless initiative.
Also, a senior bank executive who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The CBN did not print enough new notes and does not want to return the old notes it has collected because it is still driving its cashless policy.”
Also, a top industry executive close to the CBN said the apex bank might not return the old notes to banks because it would reverse its cashless policy.
The managing director of a tier-2 bank said the CBN had yet to officially communicate to banks on whether it would release old notes to them or not.
He said, ‘”We don’t know if the CBN has destroyed the old notes in its custody or not. As we speak, we don’t also know if it will release the old notes to banks again but the truth is banks don’t have much of these old notes in their vaults. Sadly, customers are not depositing much again.”