The hope of many Nigerians to simply work into any bank and lay their hands on new currencies and spend them with pride in their difference denominations during ceremonies, festive periods and holidays is on the decline or dash except the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intensifies efforts to curb the sales of such minted notes illegally.
Investigations carried out by our correspondent in Lagos reveal how staffs of banks in charge of currency transfer from the apex bank choose to rather sale the new notes to market men and women who in turn trade them for various fees.
The busy Balogun market and its adjoining outlets within the precinct of the CBN branch on Lagos Island, where most of the bank also has their Headquarters is a popular spot where such businesses thrive.
The nefarious act is not limited to the Business District alone as report said major dealers in the country’s notes had established branches in major areas of the state, a situation customers described as unfortunate for the Nigeria economy.
At Ojota, a popular suburb and entry point into the state with many motor parks, women who trade in petty merchandise serves as sellers for which they collect 10 to 15 percent of the amount their client chooses to change in exchange for the minted bank notes.
Busola, a young lady in her earlier twenties disclosed that they charge their fee depending on the market forces, she said “we start from N1000.00 where we collect between 200 and 250 as our commission, buying new notes now is expensive so from the former N750 we collect for a bundle of N50, we note collect N1000.
Most of them were initially were skeptical and refuse to speak to our reporter thinking he had posed as an undercover agent , even those who operate the roadside Bureau De Change are not left out. At the parks at Ojota and smaller market places scatter around the vicinity, sellers abound.
At the busy Balogun, Mandilas and Idumota axis of Lagos Island, young men and women who serves as couriers for dealers in the new note simply whisper to passerby whether they want to change their money into minted note before they lead a potential customer to their office, usually a tiny shop hidden inside the congested buildings housing the markets.
A bank staff who simply identified himself as Ademola disclosed that it is a booming business among bankers as they make huge profit from the sales of the currencies. He said “those in charge of transfer of the money from the CBN simply connive with some branch managers to
sale the notes. They have form cartels with the buyers, if they collect N800 upon every bundle of N50 note, calculate what they get when they sell a million, so how do you want the common man to lay their hands on such notes.”
Ademola said even as a bank staff, it is rare for junior or contract staff to even get the new notes “most neighbours and friends think because we work in the bank, we can easily get new note for them but l tell you, even our bosses in charge tells us to our faces that they are sale.”
A financial expert, Mr. Samson Dode Tunde said the situation is unpatriotic and described it as one that insults the pride of every Nigeria.
He said the dubious act has become big business for some persons around the country, “the bank is no longer a place you enter and say please change my currency for me because l want to perform a ceremony so that l can spray new notes, when you go to collect money inside a
bank, the notes you collect are nauseating, even fake notes are received from the bank now by customers.”
A Chartered Accountant base in Ibadan, Mr. Ajibade Akin expressed pessimism at any attempt by the regulatory authority to curb the act; he said the leadership of the country is responsible for the rot.
He said ” have you seen the currencies our politicians carried about, they no longer spend our local currencies, they chose to spend pound sterling, Dollars and Deutschmarks, so why we they care what happen to the Naira notes.”
Akin said in Ibadan, it is common sight to see sellers of new notes running after vehicles travelling through the famous Iwo road asking passengers to buy the new notes whereas the banks will tell you they don’t have such but chooses to sell them through the back door.”
Chuks, an event planner in Ikeja disclosed that even organisers of events has also devise a means of obtaining the notes with connivance with bankers so that their clients will hire them to manage their events. He said ” part of our selling points is that we assure our clients that we can change their old notes into new ones, we can get them as much as two million naira in different denominations as a way of attracting customers”
Others who spoke to our reporters described the situation as embarrassing as it rob Nigerians the pride of spending their currency in its new form, some posit it is responsible for the absence of lower denominations in the economy and urges the CBN to introduce coins as it is still been use in Europe and America.