The newly redesigned N1,000, N500 and N200 bills finally became a legal tender on December 15, 2022, over three weeks after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), unveiled them at the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had on October 26 announced plans to redesign the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes, while also declaring that the old denominations would cease to be a legal tender by January 31, 2022.
Emefiele stressed that the redesigning of the local currency became necessary to tackle inflationary problems, currency counterfeiting, insecurity and other issues plaguing Nigeria.
He further noted that the currency redesign was aimed at controlling currency-in-circulation as well as ransom payments to kidnappers and terrorists.
Our correspondents, who visited banking halls in several cities across the country, especially in Lagos and Abuja on Thursday, observed that several bank branches had run out of the small quantities of the new notes allocated to them from their head offices as early as 12 noon.
Further findings revealed that several bank branches were yet to get their new note allocations with many bank officials informing our correspondents that the new notes were still being expected.
In bank branches visited in Lagos, a number of the bank branches had run out of their new note allocations when our correspondents visited the places. However, officials at some of the centres which still had the new notes told The PUNCH their allocations were very small.
An official of Access Bank Plc at the Ojodu branch in Lagos, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said, “Each cashier was given N100,000 of the new N1,000 bill for onward disbursements to customers seeking over-the-counter payments. We don’t have the other denominations of N500 and N200 yet. We don’t have enough supply of the new notes for now.”
Also, our correspondent observed that the ATMs at the bank branch were dispensing only old naira notes.
Customers were also seen depositing the old bills over the counter, while cashiers were paying out more of the old naira notes at the centre.
However, in a few instances, the cashiers were seen mixing a few new naira notes with the old bills in their OTC payments.
Meanwhile, in some of the banking halls visited by our correspondents, some customers snubbed the new notes due to reports that some local traders were rejecting them as legal tender.
As such, some of the bank customers refused to collect the new notes for over-the-counter payments.
Confirming the situation, a bank teller in Ogba, Lagos told one of our correspondents that, “Some customers have been rejecting the new naira notes whenever we give them; they said the new notes would not be collected from them in the market; they prefer the old notes.”
At the bank, a cashier told a customer demanding the new notes she had exhausted her allocation.
However, when the customer insisted on having his payment in the new notes, the cashier approached his colleague to demand for some.
“You are eager to get the new notes but many of the customers I attended to today refused to take it from me,” the cashier said.