When the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced the redesigned 200, 500, and 1000 Naira notes into the country’s financial system, it was expected to plug fiscal leakages, boost government revenues, and empower vulnerable Nigerians economically. However, since the policy’s inception, it has been a tough time for Nigerians as it has had negative effects on the nation, with banks surreptitiously initiating unusual charges on transactions. While Nigerians continue to deal with Naira scarcity, they now pay charges for every transaction like deposits, over-the-counter withdrawals, ATM withdrawals, and transfers.
In a statement by the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, he explained that the policy would lead to a reduction in the value of money in circulation, deceleration of the velocity of money in the economy, lower inflation, and collapse of illegal economic activities, making people who have earned money through illegal ways afraid to declare the money as they may be prosecuted by the Income Tax Department on the legitimacy of their income. On his part, President Muhammadu Buhari stated that banknote redesign is aimed at achieving specific objectives, including improving the security of banknotes, mitigating counterfeiting, preserving the national heritage, controlling currency in circulation, and reducing the overall cost of currency management.
The charges on transactions by banks have become an avenue for extortion, with banks charging exorbitantly for each transaction, no matter how small the amount involved is. Nigerians have lamented that the banks have been taking money they don’t work for, and this has affected their purchasing power. The CBN has not checked this extortionist trend, with the banks charging whatever they like.
Our correspondent sampled the opinions of Nigerians on how the charges are having effects on them, and respondents expressed frustration with the situation.
Justus Iroro from Delta State expressed concern that the banks are exploiting citizens and contributing to the hardships.
“Imagine banks that were supposed to help the citizens at a time of hardships like this contributing a higher proportion to the hardships. Not only the commercial banks but the apex bank inclusive ranging from printing of less Naira notes to hoarding of printed notes. Then on the side of the commercial banks, they see it as a huge business for them, charging every bit of transactions made by their customers and diverting the notes in their dispositions to the politicians for an illegal commission” Justus said.
He also noted that policies made to checkmate corruption in high places are always borne by the common man. His views were no different from those of Chioma from Lagos, who feels that banks are taking money they don’t work for. “My boss pays me N91,000 at the end of every month but lately that amount is rubbish. It is frustrating and exhausting living in this country.”
Fafiolu Olufemi from Ogun State also lamented and said that the banks’ interest rates are high, affecting the prices of goods in the market. “It’s pretty much on the high side, the interest of the banks is high and this has affected the prices of the goods in the market. Even if the market women now collect charges on every transaction done.” Fafiolu said.
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Paulyn Abu, also from Ogun State, referred to Nigerian banks as “Legal Yahoo” and thieves who send alerts days after a transaction has been made, making it difficult to reconcile accounts. “What I have to say is that Nigerian banks are into Legal yahoo. Dem be thieves. You would make one transaction and they will send the alert 3 days later when you may have done other transactions. How can one begin to even trace and reconcile accounts? They should shaaa repent.”
Merit Ugolo from Abuja was frustrated with the wickedness in the country, wondering how Nigerian banks could charge for every transaction without the CBN checking it. “I really don’t understand what is happening in this country. Who will save us from these evil people? I am tired of everything in this country.”
Joseph Adams from Benin described Nigerian banks as stealing from the people, “You initiated a policy that is supposed to make people’s lives better and it failed woefully, instead of looking for ways to right your failures, it became an avenue for you to extort people. How wicked can a person be? Nigerian Banks are stealing from us, and no one is saying anything. I am pained every time I do a transaction and these Banks collect my money, this is sheer wickedness”.
Joyce Ogudu from Warri noted that politicians could do anything and get away with it because Nigerians are used to suffering. “We are used to suffering in this country that is why these politicians can wake up and do anything and get away with it. But then, it only shows that we don’t have leaders in this country. How does a government remain unbothered while the citizens suffer this kind of wickedness? How do you charge me for every transaction I make? It is just pure evil” Joyce bemoaned.
The Pastor in charge of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, City of David Parish, Jikwoyi, Abuja, Pastor John Tijani in his sermon on Sunday 26th March 2023 decried Nigerian Banks for imposing charges on every transaction made. According to him, Nigerian Banks have become thieves who are stealing from the citizens without being questioned.
Tijani enjoined members of his congregation to begin to explore other means of saving their money since keeping money in the bank is no longer ‘safe’.