From February 1, 2023, old versions of the N1000, N500 and N200 notes will no longer be accepted as legal tender in Nigeria. This reporter visited some banks in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, to withdraw some new notes, but she couldn’t. She discovered that residents arrive early, take numbers and queue for long hours even on a Saturday.
Tawakalitu, an Osogbo resident, had been at Access Bank in Ogo Oluwa since 6:30 am, but she was yet to withdraw a dime at 9:10 am.
The bank’s Automated Teller Machine (ATM), as FIJ learnt, had not been dispensing since she arrived. But with a few days to CBN‘s deadline, she just had to wait.
The gate to the bank was locked, and Tawakalitu was not the only resident sitting outside the bank when this reporter got there.
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“It’s quite tiring,” she told FIJ.
“None of the machines is working. I just want to withdraw money and get away from here. I have other things to do at home.”
Before going to Access Bank, I had visited Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) at exactly 8:55 am, where a mammoth crowd would discourage anyone.
The lines that would have separated each queue were non-existent as residents clustered around the ATMs.
At GTB, the ATMs were dispensing new notes, but one might spend the entire day there due to the queue and fluctuating ATM service.
One woman in the queue, who confirmed that the machines were dispensing new banknotes, said some were currently out of service.
At First City Monument Bank (FCMB), residents were asked to take numbers, even though the ATMs were neither dispensing the old nor the new banknotes around 9:00 am.
“We are just sitting here. You will take a number if you want to use the ATM. Even if you want to enter the bank to queue, you will still take a number,” said a lady in response to my inquiries.
I decided to ask for the last number to see if I could wait to withdraw some money. When I heard ’31’, I took a bow and went to the next bank.
Michael Ilesanmi was seated in front of Fidelity Bank. He got there around 8:30 am, but the ATM had not been dispensing money. He had learnt that the machine were already being fed with the new notes, but now, they were out of service.
Ilesanmi said the CBN ought to have ensured there were enough new notes in circulation to reduce the stress on Nigerians.
“I wanted to withdraw some money on Friday evening, but I couldn’t do that because of the long queue I met at the bank. Many POS don’t even have the new notes,” he said.
“Everything about Nigeria screams incompetence and indifference. As of last week, the machines were still dispensing old notes. If enough new notes had been in circulation, this last minute rush would not have been necessary.”
Like the other four financial institutions, there were also long queues at Zenith Bank and Ecobank branches in Old Fakunle area.
A man told me at Zenith Bank that one could enter the bank to deposit old notes, but to get new notes, one had to wait outside.
PAY MORE TO GET NEW BANKNOTES AT POS TERMINALS
Seeing that I was running out of time as I needed to be somewhere else, I went to a Point of Sale (POS) merchant. The previous day, I had tried to withdraw at three different POS terminals but none had the new banknotes.
“Do you have new naira notes?” I asked.
READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Poorly Cut New Naira Notes Circulate as Old Notes Phase Out
I brought out my debit card and told her to deduct the amount I wanted and the charges. I had assumed that it was N100 on each N5000 withdrawal, but I would discover how wrong I was when I had to transfer the money to the POS merchant directly from my bank app. She had told me that the commercial banks’ service was epileptic.
“The service charge is N100. Is that right?” I asked while inputting the amount.
“No o! It is N500 for new notes.”
I was shocked. The two options before me were either to pay N500 to withdraw N5000 in new banknotes or to queue all day under the scorching sun. I chose the former and got five new N1000 notes.
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