While the new notes are gradually being phased out of circulation, bank employees and customers have complained about the poor quality of the old naira notes that the Central Bank of Nigeria has restored.
Bank tellers who distribute cash to consumers and employees of bulk rooms who receive huge cash deposits from depositors were concerned that the filthy and damaged notes would spread disease.
On the condition of anonymity, a teller at a new generation bank in the Ibafo district of Ogun State informed one of our correspondents that handling filthy bills was a source of worry for her and her coworkers, particularly those in the bulk room.
“The dread of catching infections is genuine,” she said. The N1,000, N500, and N200 note that we are given to use to pay for goods and services after the old ones were circulated are mainly filthy and moldy. To protect our health, we have gone back to using nose masks because some of the bundles smell unpleasant.
“This week, two of our coworkers in the bulk room began coughing, and things got so bad that the branch manager requested that they take a day off work so they could get treated. The impacted employees claimed that they were exposed to musty notes, which they had to remove.
“What we do now wear face masks over our mouths and noses. Also, we maintain hand sanitizers in key areas. Several people are ill due to the quality of the old notes, and even consumers are protesting, but due to the recent three-month naira shortage, they are unable to refuse the unclean notes.
Alhaji Sarafadeen Akanbi, a trader in Lagos’ Abule-Egba neighborhood, withdrew N500,000 on Thursday from an over-the-counter machine but was vehemently upset when the money was given to him.
I came here because I badly need the money, he declared. I used my position as a highly valued customer and my connections with bank workers, starting with the branch manager, to withdraw N500,000. Although the bank set an N20,000 restriction for other customers, , I was given the privilege of withdrawing that much.
Long lines of consumers could be seen at the ATM galleries of the UBA, Access Bank, and First Bank branches in Ibafo, while those trying to enter the banking halls swarmed the gates.
Some that were successful in withdrawing complained that the old notes were filthy and perhaps infectious.
The cash for over-the-counter withdrawals had run out, and the security guard at the UBA bank informed the agitated crowd, so only those who wished to make deposits and resolve failed transactions would be admitted.
Only N2m was made available for over-the-counter payment, and the money was depleted before midday, a senior bank official claimed when one of our journalists was able to enter the banking hall.
“I’m bored of the situation,” the official stated, “since we’re under a lot of pressure from consumers who are anxious to make withdrawals. When we first opened in the morning, we were giving each consumer N10,000 both in cash and through ATMs, but we soon saw that the money would run out, so we reduced what each customer could receive to N5,000.
However, several consumers disagree, claiming that the CBN has permitted them to withdraw up to N500,000 every week. Although this is true, we can only give out what we receive.
The banker said, “Where are the new notes,” when asked if the new and old ones were mingled together.
While each bank is receiving a portion of the deposits, the availability of the old notes depends on how much each bank was able to return to the CBN before the deadline.
“Paying some customers with mangled notes is intended to dissuade them from making large withdrawals, which goes against the spirit of the cashless transaction. Such notes cannot be placed into ATMs because they jam the machines and cause a variety of issues, therefore they can only be paid in person.
Isa Abdulmumin, the CBN spokesman, did not return several calls on Friday because his phone was busy. Also, he didn’t respond to WhatsApp messages addressed to him.
The Saturday Punch, however, attracted