CBN Governor “Emefiele” Avoids Reps, Banks Ration New Notes


The House of Representatives may clash with the Central Bank of Nigeria over the redesign of naira notes and the January 31 deadline for exchanging old notes for new ones.

On Wednesday, an ad hoc committee established by the House to investigate the scarcity of new naira in commercial banks expressed displeasure with the apex bank’s failure to appear before it on Thursday.

This came barely two months after CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele failed to appear before the House over naira redesign issues.

The House had called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd. ), on Tuesday to address the looming crisis caused by the January 31 deadline.

Aside from requesting that the CBN extend the window for exchanging old notes for newly redesigned ones by six months, the House has invited banks to a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the scarcity of new naira notes.

Under the auspices of the Bankers’ Committee, the managing directors/chief executive officers of the banks were to meet with an ad hoc House committee chaired by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.

The CBN did not appear before the committee on Wednesday.

However, Ado-Doguwa, at the inaugural investigative hearing of the committee, stated, “For the purposes of clarification, I want to say without any fear of contradiction, that the parliament is always an institution that represents the Nigerian people. For an invitation to any government employee, such as the CBN, the governor, his directors, deputy directors, and all department heads, I believe, are employees of the Nigerian people; and when there is a kind of summons from the institution of the parliament like this, we expect every up-and-coming employee to only respect that invitation.”

“On this note, I would like to convey to this committee and members of the public and the press here with us that we have conceded to allow the CBN officials to come tomorrow by 1pm, so that we would engage them. And we would engage the bank operators immediately following our engagement with them.”

Meanwhile, there was palpable dissatisfaction among bank customers in Lagos on Wednesday after some commercial banks shut down their Automated Teller Machines, ostensibly due to a lack of new naira notes.

The development came after the Central Bank of Nigeria threatened to sanction any bank that dispensed old naira notes through its Automated Teller Machines.

When our correspondent visited four banks — Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa, Access Bank, and Stanbic IBTC — along Iju road in the Ogba area of Lagos State, the bank ATMs did not accept either new or old naira notes.

Meanwhile, a slew of disgruntled customers were seen lamenting the inability to withdraw cash from any of the area’s ATMs.

Our correspondent then went to Zenith Bank, Access Bank, and UBA along Ogunnusi Road in the state’s Ojodu axis. The scene was similar, with a small crowd of disgruntled customers lamenting their inability to withdraw cash.

While some banks cited technical difficulties as the reason for their inability to dispense money through the machines, others claimed that their ATMs had developed faults and could no longer temporarily dispense cash.

Meanwhile, during a previous visit to Zenith Bank on Iju Road in Ogba on Tuesday, our correspondent noticed that the bank had begun to ration the withdrawal of new notes by customers, prohibiting any single individual from withdrawing more than N10,000 of the new notes.

An end-user support officer at Sterling Bank, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The PUNCH that the bank was still loading old and new notes on its ATM due to the unavailability of new naira notes.

According to the source, contrary to reports that the apex bank had distributed enough new notes to commercial banks, the volume of new naira currently with the banks was insufficient to meet current demand.

The source said, “We were still paying old notes on our machines as of today. We are trying to clear out all the old notes we have at the moment but the old notes that were already on the machine were still being dispensed today. Probably, from tomorrow, there won’t be any old notes again. Even people who came to withdraw at the counter today were paid old notes.”

 Also, several ATMs visited in Ikeja did not dispense any notes. Unconfirmed sources said the ATMs were not loaded.