Zulum knocks CBN over naira scarcity

Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum has called the Central Bank of Nigeria "wicked" for making it difficult for the poor and vulnerable to obtain new naira notes at Automated Teller Machines. 

He was speaking while touring some of Maiduguri's commercial bank ATMs on Friday, following reports that the machines were not dispensing cash. 

"The CBN is wicked enough to punish the poor and most vulnerable members of society by subjecting them to long hours of queuing at ATM machines that do not have cash to dispense," he said. 

Zulum, who also met behind closed doors with top officials from the CBN's Maiduguri branch, was outraged that only the poor and vulnerable were found in ATM queues trying to withdraw a small amount of cash for their daily needs. 

The governor, who was at over ten ATMs of various banks, dismissed the extension of the deadline for the Naira swap as pointless if the CBN did not ensure the availability of new bank notes. 

"The problem is the non-availability of new notes," Zulum said after his closed-door meeting with apex bank 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 around 10 ATMs without seeing any rich man in any queue, complained that the lack of cash in circulation has paralyzed commercial activities across the state due to the time-consuming process of obtaining new bank notes amid the dwindling availability of even old notes. 

He urged the CBN to keep bank notes in circulation so that people, particularly the poor and vulnerable, could use them. 

"I sympathize with the locals for the shortage of the new notes," he said, promising to convey their plight to President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), who will direct the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure the availability of the new notes. 

According to an anonymous source at the CBN's Maiduguri branch, the apex bank has disbursed N9 billion to commercial banks in the state in the last month. 

"The governor should therefore blame commercial banks, not the CBN, for the lack of availability of the new notes at ATMs," he said.

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