There was a scramble in the entire South-East States on Saturday, following the attempt by residents to beat the deadline for the return of old naira notes to banks.
This is even as confusion pervaded the entire region following the early rejection of old notes by most businesses.
Saga Gist reports that this is as a result of the discovery that despite the announcement of the opening of banks on Saturday and Sunday (January 28 and 29) for the collection of old notes, January 30, which is just a day to the deadline, will be sit-at-home.
Secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, had in 2021 declared sit-at-home protest in the South east as a way to drive home the unhappiness of its members for the continued detention of their leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
Despite calling off the protest, Mondays every week have continued to witness dull economic activities in the zone.
In most areas where our reporter monitored activities, it was discovered that while many residents did not have the new notes to spend, many business concerns were already rejecting the old notes.
As early as 7am on Saturday, the gates of new generation banks, including Fidelity Bank, Access Bank, Zenith, UBA and First Bank, all located along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway in Awka, were already overtaken by customers, who were waiting to deposit old naira notes in their accounts.
It was the same situation in Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia and Imo States.
Also, at Ukwu Oji area of Awka where there is a concentration of bank branches, the story was not different, as many others also queued up to make withdrawals from Automated Teller Machines (ATM).
The situation was also not different inside the bank branches of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
At the Enugu-Onitsha expressway branch of Access Bank, customers were seen withdrawing new notes, but there was also a huge number of residents waiting to make withdrawals, just as only two out of the over ten ATM points in the bank were paying.
Meanwhile, in Eke Awka Market, the most popular in the Anambra State capital, traders on Saturday started rejecting the old notes. Though some accepted, many others insisted they didn’t have the time to take them to the bank on Sunday for deposit.
A trader in the provision section of the market, Mr Cornelius Egbe said: “I just came out today (Saturday), just to fulfil all righteousness. I am not hoping to make so much sales, because I stopped collecting old notes on Friday (January, 27).
“I have calculated all these things. Though banks will open today (Saturday) and Sunday, I cannot collect the old notes and go to the bank on Sunday to pay in. By the way, on Monday, there will be sit-at-home, and on Tuesday, which is the last day, there will be too many people in the banks. Many people who are doing big businesses will be coming to deposit their cash, and many of them may have connections with banks, so I cannot take small money and go and queue up for the whole day.”
Many people have faulted the new CBN economic policy, but there are others who have said that the policy may curb inflation, and restore the dignity of the naira.
An Awka resident, a politician, Hon Azubuike Ebe said: “Not that I’m happy with what is happening, but for one week now, I have had N10,000 of the new notes. I have refused to spend it. I have only been using transfers and POS to make payment for everything I needed.
“My wife too has some of the new notes, but I have encouraged her to keep every new note that comes in. We do not know where Nigeria is headed, so if all we need to feed our family after 31 January is the new notes, then we can rely on what we have,” he said.