The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said it would have to go into the “strong rooms” of commercial banks to ascertain possible hoarding and other unhealthy conduct, among other challenges that make it difficult for people to access the new currency notes.
Maxwell Okafor, Branch Controller, CBN in Port Harcourt, Rivers state, gave the explanation yesterday over the apex bank’s ongoing direct cash swap for residents in Rivers, especially those without bank accounts.
Okafor, who assured that the direct swap would last till the deadline on the naira exchange, said, “The sincere truth is that the situation is not smooth.” Many of the banks are making the process too cumbersome.
“For us to enter the bank today to assist these POS operators, it took a lot of pain.” I wonder if Nigerians go through this pain when we are here, and what happens when we are not here.
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“For hoarding, we will need further exercise to establish that.” It means we have to go into their strong rooms, check how they disbursed what they have, ATM, individuals before we can establish that. But the process is slow, and we are pleading with banks to make the process easier.
On the direct cash swap in Rivers, he said, “Tomorrow, we are going to Buguma, Omoku, Ahoada, Oyigbo, Onne, and Eleme.” So we will gradually cover all the hinterland of the state to make sure we exchange money directly for people, especially those who do not have bank accounts.
“We are going to cover all local government areas in the state.” It is unfortunate, anybody not able to exchange his own before the deadline will loose his money, but we are augmenting efforts of the banks to make sure as much as possible, everybody has opportunity to exchange the old naira.”