Residents of Akwa Ibom have raised the alarm over the rejection of the old naira notes by some commercial banks, barely four days before the January 31, 2023 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Some Banks’ customers raised the alarm on Friday, when officials of the CBN led by the Branch Controller Uyo, Mrs Mercy Itohan Ogbomon-Paul visited some communities to monitor the ongoing Cash Swap by money agents dispatched to the rural areas of the State.
Some customers who spoke to our correspondent on the issue said they felt worried and sad when they were refused to deposit their old naira notes by some banks located in rural communities in the State.
One of them who simply identified himself as Dr Ekpo lamented: “This morning at about 9:00 am, I went to the bank to deposit the old notes that I have, but the person in charge told me that they have stopped collecting the old notes, that I should go to Eket town to deposit the money.
“I asked why I should go to another location to deposit a little amount of money when there is bank here. So I felt so bad about that because we know the CBN directive says that the exercise will terminate on the 31st of this January”.
Similarly, a commercial tricycle operator from Ikot Ekpene, who simply identified himself as Okon Joseph, thanked the CBN for the Cash Swap initiative, however, appealed to them to extend the deadline to help the rural populace.
“If the CBN refused to extend the deadline to at least another one week many people in the communities will lose their money because I learnt some commercial Banks in the rural areas stopped collecting the old Notes from their customers, but we are told that people can deposit old notes till January 31st,” Okon lamented.
The rural areas where the CBN staff visited to monitor its recently launched Cash Swap Programme were Ikot Ekpene, and Ibiono Ibom local government areas, Okobo market in Okobo LGA, the Crayfish market, the Oron beach in Oron LGA, and Nto Ndang community in Obot Akara LGA.
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Other communities the CBN staff monitored to ensure the rural dwellers facing challenges of returning the old notes, especially the unbanked people, did so before January 31st, were Ikot Edibom, and Palace of Okuibom Ibibio, in Nsit Ubium local government area, and Itu LGA.
At Nsit Ubium, the Oku Ibom Ibibio and President General Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council, HRM, Solomon Etuk, who commended the Naira swap initiative, however, appealed to the CBN to extend the deadline to enable rural dwellers to deposit all the old notes they have.
The royal father made the passionate appeal while fielding questions from newsmen after the Cash Swap exercise organized for the underprivileged/unbanked people in his community.
His words: “I am thankful to God for this Cash Swap initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria. The management has done very well by identifying the challenges of people in the communities. This is a relief. The people are delighted.
“I am speaking as the voice o the people I appeal again to the management of the CBN to please extend the deadline for phasing out the old Naira notes, because if they don’t; our people are going to lose a lot of money.”
Addressing traders in Okobo and Oron LGAs, the Uyo Branch controller of CBN, Mrs Mercy Ogbomon-Paul advised them to ensure they return all old notes to the bank and appealed to unbanked ones to make sure they open a bank account immediately.
Meanwhile, after the spot checks carried out by officials of the CBN in the state last week, newsmen observed that all the commercial Banks especially in rural communities are now dispensing the Newly redesigned banknotes from Automated Teller Machine (ATM) points.