As the Old Naira Notes Return into Circulation Again
The tension generated by the redesign of the 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes is expected to subside as Nigeria’s Supreme Court ordered a reversal of the policy last week.
Trinitas investigation revealed that some commercial banks have started issuing out the old notes to their customers alongside the few new ones. However, some traders are rejecting the old notes, insisting that they must hear from the CBN or the presidency before accepting them.
Trinitas also viewed one of the commercial banks issuing miserable sums of between N5,000 and N10,000 as the highest limit payable even with the old notes to their customers who grumbled home with the pittance.
It is the greatest height of absurdity that customers who deposited and entrusted their money to the banks cannot collect back their money on demand when they so need it. The needless policy has directly or indirectly affected the lives of the citizens negatively while those who needed money to cater for their sick and vulnerable ones have lost them in the confusion and controversy generated by the policy.
It gladdens the heart that some governors took the bull by the horns to challenge the policy and pursued it to the end. No patriotism could be greater and more endearing than the final pronouncement of Nigeria’s Supreme Court that upturned the policy and gave Nigerians the relief they needed.
While ordering the reversal of the policy, the Supreme Court pointed out among other issues that it was not aware of any law that empowers a bank to withhold a customer’s money and refuse to give him/her, adding that the directive on withdrawal limit is an infringement of people’s rights.
The Supreme court further stated, “In other countries, decisions to change currencies follow due process and in accordance with democratic dictates, not after a side talk with their central bank chiefs.”
With the controversial currency policy, many small- and medium-scale industries caved in. The lowly placed citizens who feed from hand to mouth starved themselves and members of their families because those who patronise or give alms to them had nothing left with them.
While the CBN gave the impression it was mopping up money to frustrate politicians on vote buying, the politicians became smarter. Bank officials turned agents of the politicians and mopped up all new notes in the banks and also facilitated transfers to their supporters for vote buying.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) went beyond its mandate and visited punity on the majority of Nigerians and paved way for corruption and ineptitude in the banking industry where ordinary bank officials and point of sale (POS) operators made huge profits out of people’s money.
Our fear is the tendency for the commercial banks in concert with the CBN to continue to hoard the new naira notes and release the old ones in trickle so that the scarcity would linger till December 31st, drawing Nigerians back to square one.
We expect the CBN to push out more of the new notes to commercial banks and withdraw the old notes gradually or tarry awhile until it fashions out a less painful way to deal with the matter.
Many officials have capitalised on this chaotic currency policy to make so much money and wish that it would not go away.
The cashless policy should not be forced on all Nigerians as it is supposed to be optional and directed mostly to business entities. It should be a policy dictated by common sense and not a knife-in-the-neck policy.
We do not expect that the CBN will begin to flex muscles with the Supreme Court for the speedy implementation of its directive, nor do we expect the presidency to backslide. It would amount to contempt and disobedience of the highest court in the land. It is true that queues still persist in some banks across the nation since after the Supreme Court’s judgement, but we believe that with the resumption of issuing out old notes by some commercial banks to their customers, the long queues will disappear.