The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele yesterday appealed to Nigerians to show understanding over supply hiccups making it difficult to withdraw cash from the banks. Emefiele said this at a press briefing on the implementation of the redesigned naira notes, adding that the daily cash withdrawal limit will eventually be raised and also removed as time goes on. He also ruled out the possibility of further extension of the deadline on old notes. He said that the CBN will tonight meet with banks, telcos and PoS agents to consider elimination of charges on transactions via electronic payment channels. He said “We do see that there will be some transient or temporary pains. But I will appeal, we are begging, we are on our knees begging people to please show understanding they should be calm. In our meetings with the banks, we have told them to set up tents and chairs, give people numbers, which I’m sure some people will say is old fashioned. “But at this time that we’re trying to get the currency to circulate there should be a queuing arrangement and please be patient. The assurance we give is that it would eventually go around. “Eventually, the limits would be raised and the limits would be removed and people would be able to conduct their exchanges and businesses in the way it has always been in the past.
“We are appealing. Please we understand the pain. I’ve received several calls myself. Some members of my family themselves have complained. They will all have to just please show some understanding. It does not mean that when you queue and it does get to you, you do not begin to descend to wanton destruction of bank properties. At this time that we’re facing this temporary and transient situation, we crave everybody’s understanding. Please be calm. We are monitoring all institutions on 24/7 both cash channels and electronic channels. I am appealing in God’s name that please let’s be calm, let’s take things easy.” Ruling out the possibility of further extension of the deadline on legal status of the old bank notes, Emefiele said: “On the clamor by people to move the deadline by one more year or if we are open to further extension of the deadline. I would say no. I’m sure that people are going to say that only last week Tuesday, I said no, but I want to say unfortunately again, this time, we will not be looking at an extension of deadlines. Because we at the central bank, the deposit money banks, and other very important stakeholders, we are looking at areas where there is pressure and we are doing everything possible to address those areas of pressure. And we have had cases where in some areas, some bank branches had some cash in their vaults because there was no demand for them. Central Bank officials, when reported, we moved those monies from those locations and moved them to areas where there is pressure.
“So those are some of the logistical challenges that we face and we are doing everything possible to address it. “So I am not going to make any promise to anyone that there will be any further extension of this deadline.” Emefiele also appealed to Nigerians to embrace alternative channels instead of engaging in panic queuing and hoarding of the new naira notes. He said “We have noticed that some members of the public are hoarding the new notes thereby restricting their flow through the economy. Cash kept at home will not circulate but may fuel a perception of scarcity which leads to higher demand for the currency, signalling to those who don’t have an urgent or immediate need to store cash. The CBN would like to encourage the public to use alternative channels as much as possible for their transactions and hold minimal cash in line with the cashless policy. The CBN has also noticed long queues at some bank ATMs and banking halls. Whilst some of these withdrawal requests are genuine and DMBs continue to load the ATMs only with new notes, monitoring suggests that there appears to be some opportunistic and panic queuing.
“The Bank wishes to reassure the public that the new notes are available for all who need it at the appointed time. There is no need to queue for new notes if you have alternative channels of payment and don’t have an emergency cash need. We reiterate that the new redesigned notes are more than enough to go round for legitimate needs.” The CBN Governor also appealed to Nigerians to be peaceful and not assault bank personnel or damage bank branches. He said “It has also come to our notice that at some branches, customers have become aggressive, verbally and/or physically abusing bank staff. They have also damaged or destroyed bank property, premises, and assets. We enjoin Nigerians to be peaceful and law abiding when they visit bank branches as this wanton destruction will be counterproductive, reducing the number of financial access points in these communities.
The Governor said the apex bank is mindful of exhorbitant charges by PoS and mobile money agents,and will tonight will meet with banks, telcos and the PoS operators to consider elimination of charges on epayment transactions. He said: “We have also noticed that some Nigerians are capitalising on the transition to charge exorbitant fees or demand cash payment on the false pretext that POSs don’t work, especially at petrol stations. These selfish actions for personal monetary gain are creating hardship for Nigerians and may come at the expense of fellow citizens’ lives and livelihood. By tomorrow, we are going to meet and if those charges are charged through the banks, we are going to have an arrangement with telcos to see how these charges can be stopped.
“So that if we know whatever you are making that you are not making because we stopped it, we can collect it somewhere and look for a way to pay you but we don’t want you to continue to create pain for those who want to use alternative channels when they do not have cash in their pocket. Later this night we are going to call a meeting of both the banks, mobile money agents, and telcos that at this time, nobody should be charged. We would want this service to continue without charges. Whatever it is in terms of volume and number that you have carried out. We will look for a way to pay you your money but please let us render this service so that those who are moving away from cash channels can enter into the electronic channels can please enjoy seamless use of these channels.”