Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has described the Central Bank of Nigeria as wicked for making it difficult for the poor and the vulnerable to obtain the new naira notes at Automated Teller Machines.
He was speaking while going round some of the commercial banks ATMs in Maiduguri on Friday following reports that the machines was not dispensing cash.
“The CBN is wicked enough that it is punishing the poor and most vulnerable of the people by subjecting them to long hours of queuing at ATM machines which do not have the cash to dispense,” he said.
Zulum, who also held a closed-door meeting with top officials of the Maiduguri branch of the CBN, deeply lamented that only the poor and vulnerable were found in the queues of at ATMs trying to withdraw a little amount of cash for their daily needs.
The governor, who was at over 10 ATMs of some of the banks, dismissed as useless the extension of the deadline for the Naira swap if the CBN did not ensure the availability of the new bank notes.
“Non-availability of the new notes is the problem,” Zulum said, while responding to questions by newsmen after his closed-door meeting with the apex bank’s officials, lamenting, “We have just released N5 billion for the January salaries, but the ATMs are not dispensing because there is no cash.”
The governor, who said he went round about 10 ATMs without seeing any rich man in any queue, complained that commercial activities across the state has been paralysed by the non-avalaibility of cash in circulation due to the cumbersome process of obtaining new bank notes amid the dwindling availability of even the old notes.
He called on the CBN to ensure the availability of the bank notes for people, especially the poor and the most-vulnerable, to breathe life into them.
“I sympathise with the locals for the shortage of the new notes,” he said, promising to relay their difficulties to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to direct the CBN to ensure the availability of the new notes.
An anonymous source at the Maiduguri branch of the CBN told The PUNCH that the apex bank disbursed N9 billion to the commercial banks in the state over the last one month.
“The governor should, therefore, blame the commercial banks for the non-availability of the new notes at the ATMs, not the CBN,” he said.