From Lagos to Enugu and Kano to Port Harcourt, there seems to be a breather, at last, for cash-strapped Nigerians, as part of the hitherto withheld banknotes made their way to Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and banking halls for those who need cash for transactions
The gradual easing could force the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which had planned an industrial action on Wednesday to protest the naira scarcity, to retreat.
The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Congress will be meeting on Tuesday to reassess and review cash availability across the nation and finalise its strategies. President of the NLC, Joe Ajaero, disclosed this to The Guardian, yesterday.
Ajaero said the NEC of the NLC would meet tomorrow to review the situation and compliance by banks to alleviate the sufferings Nigerians are currently going through over the naira scarcity.
He said that if the compliance level across the country is high to the extent that Nigerians can easily access their money, the NLC might suspend the nationwide strike.
A source privy to a meeting between NLC and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) explained that the apex bank said it had disbursed N20 billion to banks nationwide, adding that banks in Lagos got N4 billion, while Abuja branches received N2 billion.
The source said CBN promised to continue disbursing more money to the banks to address the scarcity caused by its naira redesign policy.
“We are not going to rely on what they told us that they are pushing; we all go to banks. The Director of Operations of CBN came to meet with us. They said that based on our complaints and ultimatum, they have redoubled efforts. We told them they needed to redouble their efforts to stave off our action. If they pump money consistently, then there would be no need for our actions. The Ministry of Labour will also meet with us on Monday,” the source said.
MEANWHILE, the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Adewale-Smatt Oyerinde, said the planned strike by the NLC could further drag the economy into a deeper hole, leading to rapid business closures, job losses and other socio-economic challenges.
In a statement, Oyerinde, said while NECA affirmed emphatically its displeasure with government’s slow response in resolving the self-inflicted quagmire, the planned strike, at this time, could be counter-productive.
“It is without a doubt that the cash crunch has affected businesses, individuals and households terribly. Economic experts and analysts have stated that the loss in economic terms could be over N20 trillion as a result of loss of productive hours in bank halls and petrol stations, shut-down of businesses due to low patronage, the inability of employees to transit to work, challenges faced by households in meeting basic needs and the general distortion in the general supply chain,” he said.
Amid the crisis, the Supreme Court ruled on a suit filed by states, extending the validity of the hitherto phased-out old N500 and N1,000 banknotes to December 31, 2023.
Enforcement of the judgment delivered early this month suffered partial implementation with the Presidency, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the CBN waiting to take delivery of the judgment.