Many Nigerians in the north of the country are sleeping in the cubicles of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in banks and other places as the scarcity of the new naira notes bites harder.
While some are residents of urban areas, most of those who spend the night at the ATM points are mostly from communities without bank services and have to wait till they get the cash before they can return home, PREMIUM TIMES gathered.
“I left my home around 5:12 a.m. on Tuesday with the hope of being number one on the queue because one of my friends who works at the bank told me to come early, but when I reached there, I met 15 people that spent the night there,” said Umar Ashura, a non-academic staffer at the Federal University Dustin Ma in Katsina, who has an account with Unity Bank.
He said that was the first time he came to know that people spend nights at banks to get money.
“It’s surprising because the highest you can get is N20,000. That day I could only get N10,000 because the bank officials said there was not enough cash. This is our new reality,” Mr Ashura told this reporter.
In October last year, the federal government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that it would redesign the N200, N500 and N1000 notes to, among other things, promote a cashless society, tackle counterfeit money in circulation and manage inflation in the country. A deadline of 31 January was given but it was later extended to 10 February following public outrage. Three governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) ran to the Supreme Court to oppose the policy and after the first sitting on 15 February a new date, 22 February was fixed for a hearing.
Since the January deadline, Nigerians have been queueing to get cash from their banks while the number of Point of Sale (POS) operators with available cash keeps reducing as the scarcity worsens.