On Sunday, January 29, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced that the currency swap deadline has been extended from January 31 to February 10, 2023. Before the announcement, many Nigerians across the country were having challenges paying for fuel because filling stations and black market traders were rejecting the old notes.
On Monday, January 30, Nairametrics gathered that many filling stations in Abuja have since relaxed their stringent currency rules and are now collecting old naira notes from customers following the announcement by the apex bank.
Filling stations around Karu, Asokoro and Wuse areas of Abuja are now collecting old naira notes from customers as of Monday morning.
Also, black market traders who profiteer amid fuel scarcity across the country, are also collecting old naira notes from customers.
Nairametrics also found that many people who queued up to buy fuel on Monday morning were using a mix of old and new naira notes.
Before the deadline extension: A survey carried out by Nairametrics before the deadline extension revealed that motorists faced with the challenge of accessing new Naira notes found it difficult to buy fuel for their vehicles and generator sets.
Ose Akhigbe, an Abuja-based real estate developer, told Nairametrics that before the announcement, the filling stations in his locality were unwilling to collect old Naira notes. For instance, the Asokoro branch of AA Rano filling station had posted a notice on their fuel pumps that they would not be collecting old Naira notes from customers from Saturday, January 28.
According to him, he had no new Naira noted when he wanted to purchase fuel on Sunday morning, but he was allowed to pay using a bank transfer at a filling station.
Bank transfers were rejected: According to Ukah Emele, a Lagos-based Brand Strategist, many filling stations on Lagos mainland were not collecting old naira notes. Yet, bank transfers and POS payments were also rejected. Emele said:
- “When I got to a filling station at Cele Ijesha on Saturday, there was a queue about 300 meters long. I got in with the help of staff and after filling my tank at N220 per litre, I tried to pay with my bank card and I tried paying with my bank card and it declined twice. The station insisted on not collecting old Naira notes and they refused bank transfers as well. The POS operators at that location only had old Naira notes, so the whole situation was chaotic.”
According to Emele, he had to reach out to the filling station manager who facilitated the payment process for him, after the number of hours he had lost trying to get fuel and pay using different options.
The currency swap made fuel queues longer: Before the deadline extension, Nigerians were fighting to get into filling stations. The stress of the lingering fuel scarcity was made worse by the scarcity of new Naira notes.
Olabisi Michael told Nairametrics that because of the currency swap issue, some filling stations that were selling to people in jerry cans for their generators started selling only to motorists. According to him, many people using jerry cans to buy fuel come with old Naira notes, and station attendants would rather sell to motorists who most times, can make cash payments using new Naira notes.
- “This has further increased queues and with filling stations not selling at full capacity, it is a big relief that the CBN has extended the deadline, so filling stations will be inclined to accept old notes and the stress on regular Nigerians can be less,” Michael said.