Tension rises as Nigerians scramble for petrol, new banknotes

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Long queues at filling stations have been the norm in the last two months but the scarcity of the new banknotes introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) recently has added to the difficulties Nigerians are facing.

The prevailing scarcity of petroleum products — including petrol and aviation fuel — the inability to access the new banknotes just two days to the expiration of the old currency and the acute low power supply have combined to hamstring the well-being of the people.

Residents and motorists across have continued to lament the hardships they face in accessing petrol with many spending days and nights at the few filling stations that have fuel.

As authorities has attributed the scarcity to cross-border smuggling. Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari on January 26 constituted a 14-member steering committee on petroleum products supply and distribution management that is tasked with to find a lasting solution to disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products.

The tension created by the January 31, 2023 deadline for the expiration of the old naira notes has forced President Buhari to extend it to February 10, 2023 while the deadline for the deposit of the old notes would be on February 17, 2023.

Many ATMs in major parts of Nigeria are shut because they do not have enough banknotes to dispense, leaving customers stranded.

The situation is further compounded by the fact that markets and traders have started to reject the old notes.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) fixed January 31, 2023 as the deadline for the use of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 denominations.

The new notes became legal tender when they were unveiled by President Buhari on November 23, 2022 in Abuja.

On the instruction of CBN, commercial banks and other financial institutions have started working on weekends to accept deposits of old notes.

Some of the banks are still dispensing old notes, contrary to CBN’s instructions, saying they do not have enough new banknotes to give to customers.

A lot of Nigerians are lining at ATMs across the country seeking to access the new notes.

In other news, the power distribution companies have confirmed that there is no enough electricity to distribute.

There have been persistent complaints from Nigerians over the deplorable state of power supply.

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has issued a statement on the situation in its franchise area saying it is currently receiving a significant reduction in the allocation of electricity form the national grid.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria needs to generate at least 40,000MW to satisfy electricity demand.