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Scarcity of new naira notes is crippling businesses and making day-to-day life a nightmare for Borno State citizens

7 February 2023
Reading time: 7 minutes

The scarcity of the new redesigned naira notes has become a nightmare for citizens in Borno State who say it’s not just their businesses that are being affected, but also their day-to-day lives – they cannot buy or sell food, they cannot get money to pay for medicines and the hospitalisation of their loved ones and many of them don’t have bank accounts or even banks in the towns where they live.

In Maiduguri, the capital city of the state, people spend hours trying to access banks and automatic teller machines (ATMs) because of the long and winding queues. And, they say, online transactions are unreliable because of frequent network failures.

Zara Ali has a relative in a nursing home. She told RNI that she was facing “serious challenges” getting the new notes. Even the old bank notes were scarce, she said.

“It is almost impossible to get money – not only the new naira notes but also the old ones. We are struggling to pay for my relative’s medical treatment. We have money in our account, so it is not that we can’t afford it, but getting it in cash is the problem. We have been to several banks but we couldn’t withdraw money because of the long queues and huge crowds. The unsteady network means doing online transactions is another major problem.

“As a result, we have had to borrow money from friends to buy the required medicines and drugs so that our relative can receive proper treatment in hospital. It is a critical situation, a nightmare. We pray that God will help us through.”

Hajjja Zara Maina, who is looking after a sick family member, said: “Seriously, we are in a desperate situation because we are unable to buy the prescribed drugs or medicines. In fact, sometimes you can’t get proper medical attention and treatment because there are not enough old or new naira notes in the city. May Allah have mercy upon all of us.”

Falmata Abdulkadir, whose elder brother is in hospital, said: “My brother is being treated at the Mohammed Shuwa Memorial Hospital. When some of our relatives transferred money for his medical treatment, we struggled as we went from one bank to another before we could withdraw the money. At every bank there are long queues and crowds of people. We were getting desperate because we were afraid our brother’s illness would worsen. The government must do something about this problem with the new currency. People are suffering in all aspects of life.”

The scarcity of the new notes was also distressing motorists, their passengers and others who transport goods.

Alhaji Marghi, a driver, told RNI that he conveyed goods – and passengers – to Banki in the Bama Local Government Area, Kirawa in the Gwoza Local Government Area and Mubi in Adamawa State.

“Right now, the greatest challenge we are facing is the lack of money in circulation. And we often don’t have enough cash with us to even buy fuel at filling stations. Fuel attendants prefer cash. They do not want to do cashless transactions. And, even if they do accept cashless transactions, we have another problem on our hands because most of the places where we go do not have a stable network.

“That’s why we, as drivers, also prefer our passengers to pay cash for their fares, rather than cashless transactions or online transfers. So, if any passenger doesn’t have cash, we sometimes refuse to take him or her. It’s a loss to us but we can’t rely on the network.”

Another driver, Abuya Ibrahim, said:  “I take passengers from Maiduguri to Yola in Adamawa State. The problem is that our passengers don’t always have cash because of the scarcity of the new notes. And cashless transactions are difficult because the network keeps going down.

“We also face problems at filling stations because most of them want only cash. Some do cashless transactions but they prefer to have the money in hand. This issue of cash scarcity is really affecting our business activities and there are far fewer passengers at the terminus these days. May Allah help us through.”

Ali Baba Gana told RNI that he accepted cashless transactions or online transfers of money as fares from passengers despite network failures because he did not have a choice.

“There is not much money in circulation so it is very difficult for people to get cash and this is forcing me to do cashless transactions. If I refuse, I lose out and I cannot afford to lose customers.”

Ya Fatima, a regular passenger who relies on drivers, said the scarcity of the new naira notes was a “huge challenge”.

“I pay my fares using cashless transactions or online transfers. Some drivers accept this, some don’t. But I have no choice because it is so hard to get cash these days. And, with the network so unstable, it makes it even more difficult.”

Maryam Usman, who also uses the services of drivers frequently, said: “Despite the difficulties of getting the scarce naira notes, I pay cash for transport to Banki town from Maiduguri because I don’t even have an account number, let alone the ability to make online or cashless transactions. The situation is dire. The government needs to address this problem urgently. Everyone is struggling to get cash. It is making life harder for all of us.”

Traders in Maiduguri said the scarcity of the new naira currency was affecting their business activities.

Ya’isa Mohammed, who sells groundnuts, said: “Our business is small and we have suffered setbacks because there are not enough naira notes in circulation. This is affecting people’s purchasing power. Before, I used to sell out of my groundnuts in one day at the Gomboru Market in Maiduguri but now it takes three to four days before I sell everything.”

Tujja Gwaltoma said: “I sell vegetables and fruits, such as oranges, okra, onions and tomatoes, among others. The scarcity of naira notes has created a serious problem because we deal only in cash. Most of us traders do not have bank accounts, so we cannot do cashless transactions. We have lost a lot of sales because of this.”

Sale Mainama sells meat. “I have lost a lot of customers because of the scarcity of the new naira notes. I do not have a bank account so I cannot accept cashless transactions or online transfers. I have lost much of my trade. Most people cannot get cash because it is so scarce. This is affecting my business badly.”

Mohammed Bulama, who sells eggs, told RNI that he took both the old and new naira notes and also did cashless transactions and online money transfers.

“I did not have any network problems at first. But now there are frequent network failures. Not long ago I did a cashless transaction with one of my customers and I did not know if the money was transferred to my account. The network just hung. I received the alert that the money had come through three days later. This kind of thing affects all traders’ businesses. Some have had to close shop. The scarcity of the new naira notes is crippling our trade.”



About the author

Mbodou Hassane Moussa

Journaliste de formation et de profession. Passionné par l'écriture, le digital et les médias sociaux, ces derniers n'ont aucun secret pour lui. Il a embrassé très tôt l'univers des médias et de la Communication. Titulaire d'une Licence en journalisme et d'un Master en Management des projets, Mbodou Hassan Moussa est éditeur Web du journal en ligne Toumaï Web Médias. Aujourd'hui, il est devenu Webmaster à la Radio Ndarason internationale et collabore à la réalisation du journal en langue française et dialecte Kanembou.