Urge CBN to intensify awareness campaigns
Experts have warned that the scarcity of the new banknotes and widespread rejections over reported counterfeiting would threaten smooth business transactions and the economy if the associated issues are not properly handled.
This comes as Nigerians, especially the rural folks, continue to complain about the unavailability of the redesigned notes. Rejection has continued to mar the circulation of the notes across different parts of the country.
A cross-section of Nigerians who spoke to The Guardian in Abuja regretted that the notes are yet to circulate even as banks continue to pay in old banknotes. They also complain about the inability to use the new notes to do business.
Speaking on his experience, an Abuja-based driver, Nicholas Omoruyi, told The Guardian that some passengers have, at different times, turned down balances paid in new notes.
‘‘I normally ply Suleja-Wuse route daily, two days to Christmas some passengers took me to Wuse Police Station because I gave them new notes of N200 as their transport fare balances. Fortunately for me, the police resolved the matter peacefully, letting them know that the notes I gave them are legal tender,” he said.
According to him, several passengers claim the new notes are fakes. Also, Yemisi Odunayo, who owns a provision shop at Suleja Market, informed The Guardian that her customers constantly reject the new notes when she gives them balances.
She said: “This has made me not equally accept the new denominations from customers anytime they come to buy goods”. Motorcycle operators are not spared of the unfortunate experience as Squabbles between riders and passengers are reported daily to different police stations in Abuja satellite towns
Speaking on the development, Prof Sheriifdeen Tella, an economist, said the scarcity of the new notes is not surprising as the apex bank is on course to cash holding in favour of a cashless economy. On the rejections, Tella charged the CBN to embark on an aggressive awareness programme.
“In a country with high illiteracy level, there is a need for adequate advertisement. This is even more important since this has not happened in recent years,” he said.
Also, Prof. Omo-ogun Ajayi, while throwing weight with the CBN’s move, said all hands must be on deck to make the programme a success. Ajayi, a professor of agriculture economics at the University of Calabar, explained that no serious nation allows the kind of abuse naira has faced in recent times.
‘‘The government is aware that some Nigerians want to withdraw huge amounts of money to store. So, the CBN deliberately releases piecemeal banknotes to commercial banks. If we truly want to promote a cashless society as practised in other climes, the scarcity is good and the time to reduce cash at hand is now, People should engage in electronic payments,” he said.