Christmas shoppers condemn naira scarcity, ATMs dry up

Aliya Moses
5 Min Read

About a week to Christmas Day, shoppers have condemned the worsening naira scarcity, with many of them expressing frustration over their inability to make vital purchases for the Yuletide celebration.

Findings by The reporters on Sunday revealed that banks were still rationing cash over-the-counter, while several Automated Teller Machines visited did not dispense cash.

Our correspondents who visited ATM galleries in Lagos, Abuja, Osogbo, Makurdi, Sokoto, Edo, and Gusau, among others, observed that many of the machines had run out of cash.

On Friday, many bank customers could not get access to cash OTC in many baking halls across the country.

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This was despite assurances from the banking regulator, the Central Bank of Nigeria, that more cash had been released for economic activities.

Meanwhile, The reporters checks over the weekend showed that many poultry sellers and local stores were insisting on cash as a means of payment for their goods.

A roadside trader in Abule Egba, Lagos, who simply identified herself as Mama Sule, told one of our correspondents that “many customers who want to buy onions are saying they don’t have cash. I don’t have a bank account, so I can’t accept transfers; sadly, It is affecting my business.”

Also, another trader in Olowoira, Lagos, said, “I am still insisting on cash for payment because I have experienced failed transactions before. If you have cash, I will sell to you.”

A Christmas shopper, Remi Arowolo, said, “I was traveling from Abeokuta to Lagos, I saw cheap tomatoes on the road and when I stopped to buy, they said they could not accept transfer from me; they insisted on cash. I wanted to buy them in large quantities ahead of Christmas, but I could not buy them.”

Also, a Point of Sale operator in the Mokola area of Ibadan, Oyo State, who simply identified himself as James, said, “I cannot get enough cash for my business; my business is suffering. I am not making a profit and Christmas is near, no money to spend this Christmas. It is sad.”

However, some sources in the bank who would not want to be named, said the banks could only give out cash if they had.

A top bank official of one of the commercial banks said, “We are still rationing cash to customers, but if the cash supply increases, we will give out. We don’t have enough even for our ATMs. Maybe if the CBN released more cash, we should have more.”

When our correspondent visited some ATMs in Abuja on Sunday, none of them was dispensing cash to customers.

The ATM galleries belonging to GTBank, Zenith Bank, Stanbic IBTC and UBA located along Airport Road did not dispense over the weekend, although security officers at the facilities said the cash had been withdrawn by some customers.

In the Ojodu area of Lagos, one of our correspondents visited ATMs belonging to First Bank, EcoBank, Union Bank, Access Bank, Zenith Bank and GTCO, on Ogunnusi Road; none of the ATMs had cash on Sunday.

Some bank customers, who were around the ATMs, expressed frustrations for their inability to get cash.

When our correspondent visited a branch of Sterling Bank along Ikotun-Idimu Road on Sunday afternoon, customers were seen stranded as the bank’s ATM did not dispense cash.

One of the customers who did not want her name mentioned, said, “We have been here for a long time now, and the ATM didn’t dispense. I am not the only one here, we are more than five. I wanted to collect some cash to enable me to transport myself to my house in Ayobo, but this is not dispensing. I don’t know what happened.”

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Another customer who simply identified himself as Harry, said “This is frustrating, coming back from church, I decided to stop here and get some money to buy some items for the week but the ATM is not dispensing. I had visited some other banks, but the ATMs were not dispensing cash.

Also when the Newsmen team visited a Zenith Bank branch on the same stretch, it was observed that though there was little or no queue at the bank, the ATM was not dispensing.

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