In line with the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), commercial banks on Saturday and Sunday opened their doors to customers to withdraw cash.
However, the naira was still being rationed in some locations in Lagos, Ogun, and the Federal Capital Territory, as long queues persisted.
Some of the bank customers expressed relief that at last, they would be able to get their money after over two months of naira scarcity.
According to The PUNCH, bankers revealed that the naira supply situation was expected to gradually improve in the days ahead as the apex bank is supplying the lenders with a significant volume of the previously withdrawn old naira notes.
A manager in a top bank in Lagos disclosed that the naira supply situation had improved tremendously compared to a month ago, revealing that the CBN had made available old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes.
He said, “The information from our head office is that the CBN gave our bank N5bn in old notes earlier this week and this has been disbursed to the branches. I can confirm to you that we have started paying each customer N20,000 over the counter and people can also withdraw the same amount from our Automated Teller Machines unlike the situation in the past when they were restricted to N10,000 on the few occasions when we had cash.
“We expect to be able to pay customers more next (this) week as we anticipate increased supply by the CBN. We have removed the N100,000 weekly withdrawal limit or N20,000 daily imposed by the apex in the wake of the naira redesign and implementation of the cashless policy and reverted to the old limits of N500,000 for individual account holders and N5m for corporate bodies.
“I am personally relieved that the CBN has now decided to obey the Supreme Court judgment and make the old notes available. The past two months were extremely difficult for us bankers as we felt the pain that our customers felt, suffered bodily harm and our facilities were attacked by frustrated customers, who could not get their money out. We are currently battling to clear the backlog of failed transactions using alternative payment channels. I think the problem arose because of the lack of capacity to handle the huge volume of such transactions.”
It was gathered that a large number of customers waited outside of the Access Bank in the Ibafo area of Ogun State until 1.42 pm on Saturday to be allowed access to the banking hall and ATM gallery.
A customer, Titilope Oyediran, said she had been at the bank since 6am with the hope of withdrawing money because she heard on radio that the banks would be working.
Oyediran said, “I have been here since 6am and the bank has yet to open. The security man just told us that money had just arrived and they would answer us but since he said that over an hour ago, nothing has happened.
“If not because I heard on radio that the banks will be open today I wouldn’t have come; but now, I will wait till they answer me.”
An official of the bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Sunday PUNCH that customers would be attended to but was not sure of the time.
“They just brought in cash and they are preparing to attend to customers. I don’t know when customers will be attended to; when we are ready, we will open the gate,” he said.
At the UBA also in Ibafo, customers were attended to in the early hours of the day but were limited to a maximum of N5,000.
This was later stopped and the customers were directed to the ATM gallery, where a long queue had been formed.
A customer, who identified himself simply as Bayonle said, “What is happening is that they first paid N5,000 to us inside the bank, but they later stopped and told us to go to the ATM gallery. I collected N5,000 over the counter, but it’s not enough. I want to use the ATM, that’s why I am waiting here.”