Mixed Reactions as Awka Traders, Transporters Defy CBN Order on Old Naira Notes

Traders and transporters at Awka, the capital city of Anambra State, have continued to reject old denominations of 200, 500 and 1000 Naira notes, despite the proclamation by the nation’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria, that such denominations remained legal tender, reports Ogochukwu Nwaokafor.

The Acting Director, CBN Corporate Communications, Isa Abdul Mumin,  had during the Bankers’ Committee meeting held last Sunday, said the CBN gave the directive that the Old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes remained legal tender, Fides reports.

Mumin said, ‘Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.

‘Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly. The court had said the Federal Government’s Naira redesign policy contravened the 1999 Constitution.’

Abdul Mumin said the directive was in compliance with Buhari’s administration’s obedience to court orders. But Fides findings indicate that this might not be the case with small scale business owners who seem bent on obeying the initial CBN directives not to accept the notes anymore.

Fides reporter who took to the streets to ascertain the level of compliance of the new order reports that despite Godwin Emefiele’s statement, urging people to accept the old notes, many traders, transporters and artisans did not heed the instruction.

A shuttle driver operating at Amawbia axis who gave his name as Udoka, said, ‘When we were told to stop the use of old Naira notes, there was a strict warning notice on bill boards at Aroma Junction, advising against the collection of old 500 bills and 1,000 bills, while urging those still with them to pay such into the CBN.

He stressed that such procedure should also be applied presently so that people could take them seriously. He said it might be a ploy to jeopardize the businesses of Igbo traders in the Southeast.

‘So we don’t want to fall a victim of these plans until after the election and we are fully convinced that the old Naira notes are being universally accepted in most states before some of us will begin to collect it,’ he added.

Another petty business woman who deals on articles, Mama Ifeoma, noted that her fears still remained that she might not be able to use the money when visiting the Eke Awka Market to buy food for her children. She further added that her acceptance of the old notes would depend on the general acceptability of them by traders at the market.

Mazi Ugochukwu who runs a pub at Okpuno, Awka, lamented the ordeal he went through few weeks before the presidential election.

‘Most of my customers came and bought drinks and pepper soup which they paid with old notes. At first when the rumour was on, I never took cognizance of it, though I expected the places we buy drinks in cartons to accept it but they refused. I had to deduct money from the actual amount I had before one of the POS guys could collect it,’ he bemoaned.

Meanwhile, when Fides visited some motor parks in Awka, it was gathered that some of them like Star Sunny; Transport Corporation of Anambra State (TRACAS); Ekwulobia Urban Mass and other buses going to Onitsha, Oko and Nnewi rejected the old Naira notes.

Even shuttle drivers plying various routes in the city of Awka are reluctant to accept the old 500 and 1000 Naira notes.

Meanwhile, Anambra State Governor, Prof Charles Soludo, last Monday, warned banks in the state to comply by accepting the old 500 and 1000 Naira notes or risk being shut down.

The governor also called on residents of the state to report any bank that failed to comply with the order.

‘Tellers at the commercial banks are to generate the codes for deposits and there is no limit to the number of times an individual or company can make deposits.’

‘Residents of Anambra are therefore advised to freely accept and transact their businesses with the old currency notes (N200; N500; and N1, 000) as well as the new notes,’ Soludo said.

He urged residents to report any bank that refused to accept deposits of the old notes and warned that the Anambra State Government would not only report such a bank to the CBN, but would also immediately shut down the defaulting branch.

An elder statesman, Chief Sotre Eze, in a telephone conversation with Fides said the statement issued by the governor was a great effort geared towards improving the economic situation of the state.

Chief Eze called for the sensitization of the citizens, especially, traders and service providers.

Information from Deposit Money Banks indicate that traders refuse to accept the old Naira notes from buyers; same for transporters/commercial vehicles and sundry service providers.