New naira notes scarcity grounds activities in Anambra
Ahead of the January 31 deadline for the discontinuation of the old naira notes, Anambra residents have besieged banks and markets across major cities of the region.
Our correspondent who went round major cities of Onitsha, Obosi, Nnewi and some parts of Awka, on Saturday, observed that the scarcity of the redesigned naira notes forced most traders to lock shops in a bid to avoid collecting the old notes, which were still largely in circulation.
Those who opened for business witnessed little or no patronage as they refused to collect the old naira notes.
This is just as the residents also resorted to panic-buying of foodstuffs and other sundry items in order to avoid being stranded on Monday as a result of the sit-at-home.
At the commercial banks, Automated Teller Machines were people flooded with people even as most of the machines were still dispensing the old naira notes. PoS operators were also seen giving out the old notes to customers.
It was gathered that traders, business owners and artisans insisted on being paid with new notes, this made commercial activities to remain dull in the state as most of the residents complained that they could not also use their debit cards or mobile transfer for transaction.
Some of the residents, who spoke with our correspondent, lamented that if they failed to spend the old notes after the weekend, it might be impossible for them to do so, because Monday, the day before the deadline day is sit-at-home, where they would not have the opportunity to make transactions.
A resident of Onitsha, Chinwe Odume, expressed worry at the inability of the commercial banks in the area to dispense the new naira notes as directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Odume said, “When I could not withstand the heavy crowd at the banking halls, I came into the market to buy foodstuffs with the old notes with me as we don’t know what fate holds for us after today.
“Monday is sit-at-home in the South-East and after that, it’s Tuesday, so if we don’t spend the old notes today, it might be very difficult to do so on Tuesday.”
Two respondents at the Nnewi market, James Uko and Gloria Nwaobu, while complaining about the development, said they had no option than to resort to panic-buying in order to spend the old notes before the Tuesday deadline.
They lamented that the PoS vendors in the area had the new notes in bulk and were collecting N13,000 in old notes, in exchange of N10,000 for the new currency to customers.
Also, there was a drama in the early hours of Friday at the Onitsha Park as some of the passengers who did not have the new notes were stranded because the commercial bus operators refused to collect the old notes for payment.
It took the intervention of some motor park officials for the bus operators to start collecting the old notes, when the stranded commuters started lamenting.
A transport operator in Onitsha, who identified himself as Okechukwu Onu, said, “The banks in the South-East will shut down till Tuesday, because Monday is sit-at-home and by that day, the banks might refuse to allow us lodge the old notes.
“So, what we are doing is to also safeguard ourselves so that we are not stranded by Tuesday.”