The House of Representatives may be on a path of conflict with the Central Bank of Nigeria over the revamping of naira notes and the January 31 deadline set for the exchange of the old notes with the new ones.
An investigative committee established by the House to probe the shortage of the new naira at commercial banks on Wednesday expressed disappointment at the failure of the management staff of the central bank to appear before it on Thursday.
This occurred barely two months after the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, failed to appear before the House over issues relating to the naira revamping.
The House had on Tuesday summoned the President, Muhammadu Buhari over the brewing crisis caused by the January 31 deadline. In addition to asking the CBN to extend the period for swapping the old notes with the newly redesigned one by six months, the House had invited the banks to a meeting on Wednesday over the shortage of new naira notes.
The managing directors/chief executive officers of the banks, under the aegis of the Bankers’ Committee, were to meet with an investigative committee of the House to be chaired by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
On Wednesday, the CBN failed to appear before the committee.
However, Ado-Doguwa, at the inaugural investigative hearing of the committee, stated, “For the purposes of clarification, I want to say without any fear of contradiction, that the parliament is always an institution that represents the Nigerian people. For an invitation to any government employee, like it is the case here with the CBN, the governor of the CBN, his directors, deputy directors, all departmental heads, I believe, are employees of the Nigerian people; and when there is a kind of summons from the institution of the parliament like this, we expect every up-and-doing employee to only respect that invitation.”
“On this note, I would like to convey to this committee and members of the public and the press here with us that we have conceded to allow the CBN officials to come tomorrow by 1pm, so that we would engage them. And immediately after the engagement with them, we would engage the bank operators.”
Meanwhile, there was palpable discontent among bank customers in Lagos on Wednesday after some commercial banks shut down their Automated Teller Machines, ostensible due to a scarcity or unavailability of new naira notes.
The development came in the wake of threats by the Central Bank of Nigeria that it would impose penalties on any bank that dispensed old naira notes on its Automated Teller Machines.
Upon a visit to four banks — Zenith Bank, United Bank for Africa, Access Bank and Stanbic IBTC along Iju road in the Ogba area of Lagos State by some news correspondents, it was observed the bank ATMs were neither dispensing the new naira notes nor the old ones.
Meanwhile, a plethora of disgruntled customers were seen lamenting the frustration of not being able to withdraw cash from any of the ATMs in the area.
While some of the banks cited technical difficulties for their inability to dispense money via the machines, others said their ATMs had developed faults and could not temporarily dispense cash.