With the absolute confusion we are in now, is Nigeria ready to be a cashless society? My last post ‘WHAT A DAY THAT WAS!’ detailed events that made 3rd February, 2023, a very bad day for me. And things have not gotten better. On 6th February I went to my bank again. I was told that no new notes could be drawn. And the crowd at the ATM gallery outside was intimidating. I did not bother.

So I went to Zenith bank to transfer money for a redecoration job. Their premises were fenced off with high iron rod barrier. So, many customers were jostling to get in. I beckoned to one of the security guards within and told him I wanted to make a transfer. He said, ‘Zenith to Zenith transfer only, internet problems’. So I went to the Zenith bank across the bridge. It also had iron rod fencing. The security said, ‘sorry, no internet, transfer is not possible’.

I then decided to shop at nearby Shoprite. The salesgirl tallied the items in my trolley, took my ATM card but the POS issued a ‘declined’ receipt. She used another POS with the same result! Both were Sterling bank receipts.

I said, ‘It means I can’t buy anything.’

Sir, make a phone transfer.’

I tried but ‘’try later’’ was the repeated result. More internet problems! I turned to leave but instinctively looked at my phone. I had five alerts! Three were debits and two were credit reversals. Each indicated twenty three thousand naira.

In answer to my query the girl said, ‘don’t worry, sir. The bank will reverse it.’

“How do you know?’

They usually do, sir.’

‘I want to see the manager.’

His office was in the room nearby.

I went in and said, ‘sir, you people have my twenty three thousand naira. I was debited thrice. Only two were reversed.’

After some argument I accepted his ‘please have patience, sir. They will normally reverse the charge within twenty four hours. If it is not reversed please come back’. So I went home. I decided to give them forty eight hours.

So, forty eight hours later, on the 8th, since I still had no money, I first went to the 4th Avenue Access bank branch. There was a crowd around the ATMs. I stood wondering how to approach the gallery.

Then a young lady said, ‘there’s a senior citizens’ queue’. So I went to join the queue. Of the four ATM points only one was dispensing money. The blue-clad security guard by it had given numbered paper slips to the other people. Five of them would use the ATM in alternate order with two senior citizens. It was a struggle. I leaned on my walking stick as my feet hurt. After about forty minutes I reached the ATM. My Access bank card allowed me ten thousand naira. Holders of other bank cards got five thousand.

So off I went to Zenith on 2nd Avenue to transfer money to the painter. But it was under lock and key. So was the one across the bridge.     

As the debit had not been reversed I went to Shoprite. I tendered my ‘declined’ receipts to the manger, this time a woman. She scanned them and returned them. She told me this was a bank to bank affair. Reversal would take five days. So I left. If need be I would return next week.

Is Nigeria ready to be a cashless society? I don’t think so. Zenith bank and Access bank, two of the largest and best are hobbled by internet problems. Why would other banks be exempt? It means the internet service providers are not coping with such sudden pressure. Without an efficient internet service how could we go cashless? Furthermore, statistics say only about half our population have bank accounts. The others put their money under their pillows, in their boxes or wherever. Furthermore, one of the major religions frowns at earning interest on money. So why put money in banks? And many citizens do not have smart phones for transactions.

But the powers that be have decided that we must go cashless and have set a deadline. They are replacing the three largest denominations of our money with redesigned new notes. The old notes must be returned to the banks by a certain date. But where are the new notes? On 13th February, after wasting time at Access bank all I could get was three thousand naira!

People are angry. Some are starving. Why should it be difficult for people to withdraw their own money from banks? Some people are resorting to violence. ATMs are being vandalized. People are taking out their anger on bank staff. A sorry video is on the social media. A female bank manager has been dragged out of her car and rough handled by some youth. Her brief case and other possessions are being seized from the car. The car tyres are being removed. The youth carrying one tyre is shouting, ‘since you won’t give me my money I will sell this tyre and get some money for food!’ Unfortunately this car thing is happening in Igbo land. Yes, no half measures in Igbo land.

Even if you give us ten years to change currency there will be problems. The level of illiteracy is high. But this exchange should at least have started one year ago. But it appears our rulers suddenly had a brain wave. They had been told some politicians had amassed billions of naira to buy votes during the elections commencing on 25th February. Our leader said he wants the best candidate to be the next president. He did not want the votes bought. He wants the stashed old notes back in the banks. He would release the new money in trickles. That way nobody would have large quantities of the new notes to buy votes. But Governors of his own party are going to court to stop his idea!

What our leaders refuse to acknowledge is that the society is steeped in corruption. Yes, our politicians have stashed the old money to buy votes. They are going to court to stop the money change. But they have a fall-back position. They own the banks! And the bank managers hold back a large chunk of the new notes from the Central Bank for them. And the people groan under hardship – no money for the expensive fuel, none for food or anything. They can’t withdraw their own money!

 So the whole country is in turmoil. This country is very good at making simple things difficult. To change money is now an impossible task for us. Everything that can possibly go wrong has gone wrong.

So the answer to my own question is that we should forget this knee-jerk decision to change money. Or it should be extended for at least a year. Our president should forget his dream of a lasting positive legacy of enthroning an honest president. The presidency is already bought. And Nigeria keeps stumbling on.


2nd February, 2023, was a day I can never forget. Before then I had been agonizing over my next post for weeks. I had wanted to express my sadness on the state of Nigeria. Should the title be, ‘They Have Killed Nigeria’, or, ‘How To Run A Country Aground’? Simply put, everything that could possibly go wrong here seems to have gone wrong! I may still write that post.

Well, that morning, I needed to get money from my bank. We are still a cash economy, not yet the cashless one we are dreaming of. Our rulers were, over a very short time, trying to force everybody to key into their cashless economic policy. Large denomination notes above one hundred naira were being replaced by new notes. And the banks were not paying out new notes. And the lower denomination notes were hardly available. And the deadline for paying in the old large denomination notes was eight days away. There was simply chaos and panic. To make matters worse worse there was scarcity of petrol.

I needed to buy petrol, cooking gas and other things. Government approved petrol pump price was one hundred and forty-five naira per litre before the recent increase to one hundred and eighty-five naira. What a laugh. Some days ago when I last purchased petrol the queue at the station selling at government price was nearly a mile long! The other station open near where I live was selling at three hundred and fifteen naira and there was a short queue!

Not wanting to spend two days on the queue I bought at the other one. Crafty buggers! They were only collecting cash. They had a young lady doing business with her POS on standby. So you buy cash from her and pay for your petrol. In a corny way everybody was happy. The POS girl made her money, the station had their cash and I was relieved to have some petrol for my over-flogged generator!

When I got to my nearest branch bank, Access, it was deserted. The lone security guard said, ‘sorry, sir, no work here today. Try the new branch on 2nd Avenue or the 4th Avenue branch.’ I was shocked. But off to 2nd Avenue I went with my car bouncing up and down on the potholed road. I did not need to drive into the branch premises. There was a mammoth crowd under where the bold ATM sign was displayed above on the wall. So I was jolted up and down in my car over the potholes all the way to the 4th Avenue Branch. Last time the security guard there had taken permission for this senior citizen to jump the ATM queue. I had thought, what a nice man!

At the ATM gallery there was a large crowd! And I was told no money was being dispensed. They were all gathered, this time not queuing, in anticipation of the machines being fed with cash. The security guard suggested, ‘try inside the bank, sir’. Inside there was another crowd. One of the girls behind the counter said, ‘sorry, sir, no new notes’. I saw an older woman within the staff area and beckoned to her. She came and answered my query, ‘sir, if you have patience the girl will give you some money.’

I was relieved when the girl said, ‘sir, have a seat. Let me finish with this military man.’ Yes, she had been attending to a man in army uniform. Luckily there was, surprisingly, one vacant seat. I gladly sat in it. Then I realized that the man next to me carrying a toddler had also come with his wife. Apparently she had left her seat for something. I also sensed it when a lady coming towards me turned away, perhaps noticing that a very senior citizen had occupied her seat. But I sat there for fully thirty minutes and the military man was still there!

Then I walked to the counter. The girl said,’ I have not forgotten you.’

I replied, ‘I know. But I have been here for a long time. Should I go home?’ Then the military man left.

The girl turned to me. She said, ‘give me your ATM card.’

I was relieved and gave it to her. She inserted it in the POS, typed in some things and gave me back my card. I was shocked when she said, ‘what I have for you is two thousand naira in fifty naira notes.’ And she brought out the wad to give me. I hesitated to take the money. Inside me I was fuming, having wasted over two hours of my time all I can get from my bank is two thousand naira in fifty naira notes. I took the money in disgust and left. Outside, the crowd at the ATM was still there. But I found out they were now dispensing money. How much? Five thousand naira maximum. I went home dejected ruing what was happening to me and wondering what would become of our country.

Now for any reader who knows nothing about the naira I would relate the money to dollars. These days you can hardly get dollars from the bank. You buy at the black market rate of eight hundred naira to one dollar! In effect I had spent my whole morning collecting two dollars fifty cents equivalent of my money from my bank! And the people at the ATM, rich or the poor, spent their whole morning only to get the equivalent of six dollars and twenty-five cents of their money. May the Almighty help us. Amen.