Despite the Supreme Court order extending the deadline for old Naira notes to remain in circulation, businesses and other economic activities are still suffering a setback as the cash crunch continues to ravage the nation.
It was reports that the Supreme Court had on Wednesday temporarily halted the move by the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to ban the use of the old naira notes with effect from February 10, 2023.
The order from the appellate court followed the unfortunate riots in several parts of the country emanating from the non-availability of the newly redesigned Naira notes.
Recall that the CBN had fixed January 31st as the deadline for the exit of the old Naira notes (N200, N500 and N1,000) but the apex bank later bowed to pressure and extended the swapping period to February 10.
Some state governors elected under the platform of the All Progressives Congress APC who alleged that the CBN policy was targeted against the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu dragged the Federal Government to court.
The governments of Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara States last week, filed a lawsuit before the Supreme Court, seeking a restraining order to stop the FG from executing the February 10 deadline.
Ruling on Wednesday on the matter, the Supreme Court in a seven-member panel led by Justice John Okoro halted the move by FG and the CBN to end the circulation of old Naira notes across the country.
The matter was, however, adjourned to February 15, 2023, for hearing of the substantive suit.
However, gathered on Saturday that the extension is yet to make any difference in the difficulties faced by Nigerians while making efforts to get cash and save their businesses from crumbling further.
Some Point of Sale (POS) shops have remained closed over lack of cash. A check in many parts of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja revealed that several ATMs are also not dispensing cash.
Recall that many banks had on Friday shut down operations, citing a lack of cash and fear of riot by angry customers.
A POS operator Mr Duke Onyebe who said in Abuja said, all efforts to get some cash to continue his business failed on Friday.
According to him, Naira notes are currently products that people sell and make money from.
He said, “Only people that are selling the new Naira notes have cash in FCT. We keep wondering where they are getting it from when banks always tell us that there is no money.
“If you go around many places in Abuja you may not find any POS shop that is currently functioning. Nobody has cash right now”.
A Zenith bank staff, who preferred not to be mentioned, said the efforts by the Supreme Court to extend the deadline for old notes to remain in circulation may not change anything.
According to her, most of the old notes have been received and sent to CBN by commercial banks.
She said, “They said the old Naira notes should co-exist with the new notes but the question is, do people still have the old notes? Only a few.
“The notes have all been received by banks. How many of our customers will accept old notes from the bank? Many will not, so how would the extension of old notes help the matter? The CBN only needs to print more”.
It was reports that transportation and other activities are still grounded in the FCT and other parts of the country due to a lack of cash.
“I was stranded at the office in Maitama on Friday because of cash. I had no money on me to use public transport and my transfer was not working so I couldn’t get an Uber.
“I called my husband and told him the situation and he said that he had been queuing at the fuel station for hours trying to get fuel. I had no choice but to wait till he came and picked me up at almost midnight”, a civil servant, Monica Adikwu lamented.
However, the National Council of State on Friday met with President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN governor, Goodwin Emefiele where they urged the apex bank boss to take urgent steps to arrest the scarcity of cash across the nation.
The council urged the CBN to do more to ensure that there is a circulation of adequate cash in the system to alleviate the harsh realities trailing the policy.