New naira nightmare: Buhari consigns Nigerians to seven more days of hardship - PUNCH
Story by Akinpelu Dada, Nike Popoola, Oladimeji Ramon, Deji Lambo, Daniel Ayantoye, Stephen Angbulu, Abiodun Sanusi, Ademola Adegbite, Dele Ogunyemi, Chima Azubuike, Raphael Ede, Gbenga Odogun, Ikenna Obianeri and Animasahun Salman
Some angry citizens, on Friday, condemned the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria and Deposit Money Banks for subjecting them to hardship over the scarcity of new naira notes and the astronomical hike in the pump price of petrol as a result of acute scarcity.
While some vented their anger by embarking on street protests, others attacked bank branches and facilities.
There were protests in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, on Friday, by frustrated citizens over their inability to withdraw money in their bank accounts as well as the lingering fuel crisis and the attendant rising cost.
Similar protests took place in Lagos, Ondo and Edo states, sparking apprehension that the situation could degenerate in the coming days.
Amidst the confusion, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), expressed doubts about the commitment of banks to the success of the new naira policy and accused some of them of being inefficient and making the policy unnecessarily difficult through “selfishness and greed.”
He also asked to be given seven days to resolve the problems associated with the scarcity of the currency.
Citizens lament hardship
At the UBA branch in Ibafo, Ogun State, a housewife, Mrs Silifat Oseni, used expletives to describe those in government for subjecting her to so much hardship as she was finding it difficult to buy foodstuffs to feed her family.
She said, “What have we done to President Buhari and the CBN governor that they are punishing us like this? They have collected our old notes and are not supplying the new notes, yet the prices of fuel and food items have hit the rooftop.
“I was in the market on Thursday and the meat and pepper sellers refused to accept transfers as a means of payment. They insisted on me paying cash, which I didn’t have. I came to the bank this morning (Friday) to withdraw just N5,000 so that my family can feed, but the queue at the ATM gallery is so long and the security guards did not allow me to go inside the banking hall. I don’t know what to do next.”
A commercial motorist, who attempted to buy fuel at a filling station in the Ketu area of Lagos State, Lamidi Adetunji, expressed frustration at his inability to get the product, adding that the attendants refused to collect old naira notes from him.
Adetunji said, “I waited for over one hour for the tanker to discharge the fuel and when it was my turn to purchase the product, the attendant said the PoS was not working and I tried four times to transfer money to her without success.
“I was asked to go to a PoS operator outside the station and the woman told me that she would take N1,000 on the N10,000 that I wanted to withdraw. I didn’t have a choice. We can’t increase transport fares too much because people don’t have money to pay.”
A civil servant with the Ogun State Government, Saheed Shomorin, who was at the GTBank branch in Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, said he spent over three hours on Friday before he succeeded in withdrawing N10,000 from the ATM, adding that the situation was affecting his productivity as he would not be able to report in the office.
An employee of the Boluwaduro Local Government Council, Osun State, Mrs Oluyemisi Ajiteru, said, “We in the rural areas are finding it difficult to get the so-called new money and they are insisting that we must deposit the old ones. People are really suffering here.
“On Wednesday, I had to travel from my base in Otan Ayegbaju to go to Ikirun to withdraw N2,000 from a PoS agent, who added N400 as his charge. I spent N600 to travel to Ikirun and back to my base and I am just a junior worker. How will I cope now?”
A trader in Nyanya, Mallam Abubakar Audu, expressed anger at the hardship being suffered in the country, saying, “I can’t get money to take home to my two wives and children because my customers are insisting on transferring money to me. Though I have an account, where will I get cash to spend?
“The situation is dangerous now and people may just embark on spontaneous protests, which may disrupt the elections that the government is labouring hard to organise. President Buhari, though he is my kinsman, has not done well at all. He appears uncaring about what will happen to the nation after his exit in May.”
In Enugu, one of our correspondents reports that some customers now stay till around 2am for ATMs to be loaded, while others come to the banks around the same time so that they could be among the first to make withdraws when banks start work by 8am on a daily basis.
A bank customer, who gave his name as Emeka Okorie, said he had been going to the ATMs for three days to make withdrawals but had not been successful because of the huge crowd that besieged the galleries.
Okorie said, “Today makes it the fourth time I have been going to the bank. I left my house by 4am so that I could be able to make a withdrawal.
“I was even told that some people slept in the ATM gallery because the only machine dispensing money stopped working by 2am.”
Another customer, Moses Chidiebube, described the naira redesign policy as demonic and evil.
Another bank customer, Kingsley Obi, also lamented the suffering Nigerians were going through to get cash.
He said, “I went to the bank around 1.30am yesterday (Thursday) only to withdraw N20,000 around 11am. So, people have left their businesses to stay in ATM galleries. This is the worst policy of this administration.
“When Buhari came as a military Head of State in 1983, because of his inept administration, Nigerians suffered. Now he is at it again.”
In Onitsha, Nnewi, Obosi, Ekwulobia and some parts of Awka in Anambra State, customers besieged the banks as early as 6am in order to get favourable positions in the queues.
It was lamentation from the customers as they were yet to be attended to as of 1:45pm.
Most of the banks shut their banking halls to customers as early as 9am, while allowing only those who had come to deposit cash into the halls.