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NAIRA DEADLINE: BANKS, FUEL STATIONS REJECT OLD NOTES, IGNORE S’COURT ORDER

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Naira Notes

Some commercial banks and filling stations have stopped collecting the old naira notes from customers, contrary to the ruling of the Supreme Court restraining the Federal Government from enforcing the February 10 time limit earlier fixed by the apex bank for the currency swap.

Findings by The PUNCH on Monday indicated that the banks refused to accept the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes from depositors and point-of-service agents who flooded the bank to lodge their cash.

Point of service operators and other bank customers whose old naira notes were rejected, panicked as bank officials, who said they were acting on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s directive, remained adamant.

Also, lawyers and litigants at high courts in Lagos State were unable to file their court processes using the old naira notes for payment.

As the naira crisis worsened, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, again met with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa on Monday.

Emefiele, who had met with the President about six times since the naira crisis started, failed to address correspondents as he reportedly left the villa through a side entrance.

The governments of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states on February 8 secured the order of the apex court extending the deadline beyond last Friday stipulated by the CBN for the use of the old notes.

A seven-member panel of the apex court, led by Justice John Okoro directed that the deadline be suspended till Wednesday when the proceedings would continue even as other states had applied to join the suit.

But our correspondent who visited the Mobil filling station at First Gate bus stop along Lagos-Badagry Expressway observed that the attendants refused to accept the old naira notes on Monday.

Checks also showed that banks in the Ikeja area of Lagos State refused to collect the old notes from customers.

Some frustrated and desperate customers were seen making frantic calls to their friends and loved ones intimating them of the development.

Speaking to The PUNCH on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the latest development, a staff member of First Bank Plc said that they were instructed not to collect the old naira notes.

Our correspondent noticed that only customers who had new naira notes were allowed into the banking hall.

Also in the Badagry area of Lagos, several bank customers and PoS agents who visited banks on Monday were shocked to learn that the banks were not accepting the old notes.

A resident, who identified himself simply as Mr Julius said the branches of Access Bank and UBA in the town refused to accept the old currencies from depositors.

Speaking to our correspondent on the phone, he said, “What is happening in his country? My wife visited UBA only to be informed that the bank was no longer accepting the old notes. Some PoS agents who visited Access Bank were also informed that the bank was no longer accepting the old notes based on a directive from the CBN. I thought the Supreme Court ruled that the notes are still legal tender.’’

Ogun banks

A Sterling Bank official said banks in the Magboro area of Ogun State had shut down as a result of the scarcity of cash.

Findings also indicate that some banks in Abuja, the capital city, have stopped accepting the old notes.

Officials who spoke to our correspondent said the policy was in line with a directive from the apex bank, noting that they did not know anything about the Supreme Court order.

At a Zenith bank branch located in the Central Business District, customers who had the old notes could not deposit them as officials blatantly refused to accept them.

A bank official stated, “We are not collecting old notes again, the deadline was on Friday. The memo I saw yesterday (Sunday) directed that we should not collect N1,000 and N500 old notes anymore.

“We even had to dispatch all our old currency on Friday to the Central Bank. We obey our regulators, not the Supreme Court.”

 At the GtBank close to the Ministry of Transport, our correspondent got the same response.

“We are no longer receiving the old notes, we are working with the CBN and anything they say is what we do,’’ a female cashier declared.

 When reminded about the seven-day grace period announced by the CBN governor, she noted, “We don’t know anything about it, the deadline has elapsed, and we are working with the CBN.”

However, a UBA branch at the CBD, Abuja, allowed some customers to deposit their old notes.

A customer confessed that he had to call a senior official before he was allowed to deposit his old naira notes.

But the GTB and First Bank branches in the Jabi district flatly refused to accept the old notes.

The same situation was observed in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital as many residents were frustrated by the banks and filling stations which refused to collect the old notes.

Ironically, some filling stations also rejected cash transfers even though they did not provide PoS as they insisted on the new notes.

A bank customer, Tope Adeitan, said, “It was a hell of a day for me today. I was at a bank along Bank Road to make withdrawals, but I was told I could only withdraw N5,000 across the counter, which I did because I had no option. I could not say whether the bank was collecting old notes or not, but I did not see a single note of the old N200, N500 and N1000 with anybody throughout my stay in the bank.

“And at a petrol station, I had thought I would use my ATM card or my bank app to pay for fuel only to be told I would have to pay with the new notes. So, I had to use the money I collected from the bank. The petrol dealers are just interested in selling the new naira notes to PoS operators for a quick profit. I am confused, will I have to cough out N150 or N200 on every N1,000 I collect through PoS?”

Another bank customer, who identified herself simply as Ayomide, said she had gone to a bank branch in the Okeyinmi area to make a withdrawal but was surprised by the sea of people at the ATM points and under the makeshift tents who wanted to carry out transactions in the bank, adding, “I had to return home empty-handed.

Customers lament

Some people said that the bank and some others in the state capital rejected their old notes. So, I can tell you the banks are not accepting the old notes. The Federal Government needs to speak to Nigerians on this issue. This suffering is unbearable,” she said.

In Kwara State, checks by our correspondent revealed that several banks, including UBA, FCMB and Access bank refused to take the old notes from their customers on Monday while the Zenith Bank, First Bank and UBA at Unity Road did not load money into their ATM points.

But the Fidelity bank Keystone on Ibrahim Taiwo road, GTB, Unity road and Polaris on Murtala Mohammed road were besieged by anxious customers.

A customer, Abiola Adegoke who said he was at the Murtala Mohammed road branch of FCMB to lodge his company money said that the bank officials told him that there was an instruction from their head office that they should not receive the old naira notes from the customers.

Another customer, Mr Owolabi Azeez, explained that UBA rejected the old notes he wanted to deposit in his account.

Angry customers in Ondo State lamented the refusal of the banks to accept the old notes.

It was also observed that traders, petrol stations and supermarkets were also rejecting the old notes on the grounds that the banks were no longer collecting them.

But some filling stations and supermarkets accepted PoS and electronic cash transfers during transactions.

A businessman, Mr Raphael Sunday, noted, “I went to my bank this (Monday) morning to deposit N55,000 old notes but it was rejected as the cashier told me that they didn’t collect old notes for now. I felt bad because there is nowhere I can take the money.The government should do something about this problem.”

However, a banker said they were not to blame for the situation, adding, “We are waiting for the directive from the CBN. If the CBN gives us a go-ahead, we would start receiving the old notes from the customers.”

Residents of Yola, Adamawa State, also complained that the banks had stopped accepting the old notes.

The development came on the heels of the circulation of defaced and mutilated naira notes.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a CBN official said the notes issued by the CBN, though defaced and mutilated, were re-issued to cushion the scarcity of naira notes in the state.

He said, “To cushion the scarcity of naira notes, the CBN in Yola resorted to issuing to banks in the state damaged and defaced N50 denomination sourced from its dump vault where the notes have been designated for destruction.”

A PoS operator, Nguliaro Nicholas, said nearly 90 per cent of the currency in circulation in the state were mutilated N50 and N20 notes.

A UBA official revealed that the bank was collecting old notes earlier in the day but it received a directive from its headquarters to stop.

CBN keeps mum

She said, “The CBN is quiet so we don’t know what we are into, so the measure from our bank is to reduce risk because the CBN has been quiet.”

A resident, Bamaiyi Yusuf, who travelled over 80km from Mayo-inne in the Fufore Local Government Area to the state capital to deposit N200,000 at the CBN because his bank (GTB) refused to collect the old naira notes, was close to tears when he was directed to return on Tuesday (today).

The CBN branch controller, Sanusi Sah, dismissed allegations that the issuance of the old notes by the banks in the state was meant to perpetrate fraud.

He also indicated the readiness of the bank to commence the naira swap based on official mail received from its head office.

Explaining why the filling stations were rejecting the old naira notes, the Secretary, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abuja-Suleja branch, Mohammed Shuaibu, said the banks were to blame for the development.

He stated that the banks had remained adamant, attributing this to the confusion caused by the CBN.

“The banks are still adamant. They said the CBN has not given them a directive on what to do. Before now, they said the CBN gave them a circular asking them not to collect the old notes from February 10, 2023,” he stated.

Shuaibu added, “But based on the Supreme Court judgment and the Council of State meeting, the CBN, as it is now, has not given the banks any other circular on whether to continue collecting the old notes or not.

“So this is creating confusion and people are afraid, because if you go to the banks, they won’t collect it from you, and if you collect the notes from the public, the banks will be adamant.”

It was, however, observed that most filling stations in the Federal Capital Territory had started using the Point of Sale machines, in accordance with the directive of the Federal Government.

Last week, the Federal Government through its Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, ordered filling stations to accept PoS transactions as well as bank transfers from customers in order to ameliorate the effect of the cash crunch in Nigeria.

Reacting to the situation, the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria insisted that the banks must accept the old notes.

The National President, of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria, Victor Olojo, who was indignant over the banks’ action asked the CBN to compel them to receive the old notes.

He said, “We are calling on the CBN to be more circumspect and they should also observe. They are dealing with Nigerians, we are in our country; we are not third-class citizens. The reality of the matter is that the currency swap has not been effective, it has not yielded any result. So if banks decide to say they are not collecting, it further affects the citizens.’’

Olojo cited the directive of the Kano State Government compelling banks in the state to continue to accept the old currencies.

He added, “The CBN should intervene and call on the bank to do the needful. You are aware that in Kano state and other places, commercial banks are compelled by the state government to work.

“In fact, small businesses that don’t collect old notes are being sanctioned by the state government. So the reality is that the cash swap is not effective, any further action by the CBN will affect the citizens. We are calling on the CBN to compel the banks to do the needful until we see meaningful results except we want are deceiving ourselves.

“We are not anywhere close to a successful cash swap programme in this country. Go to the market today, a lot of the old notes are still in circulation because there are no new notes to exchange for them.”

Elderly man weeps

Meanwhile, a  video of an elderly man weeping inside the banking hall of one of the commercial banks on Monday surfaced on social media platforms.

The elderly man who spoke in the Yoruba language said he needed to access cash in order to buy drugs.

“All I want is money to buy my drugs and also get food to eat. The person that sells drugs for me said I must bring cash, and I have money in the bank but can’t access it,” he said while weeping in the footage posted on The cable.ng.

Efforts to get a response from the CBN through its Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, were futile. When contacted by our correspondent on Monday through a phone call, he asked our correspondent to text him instead. However, he never acknowledged nor responded to the text.

 Meanwhile, the CBN has said that over N2tn old notes had been deposited by bank customers since it began the cash swap programme.

According to a CBN document obtained by our correspondent, the N1,000 note was the most counterfeited denomination in five years.

It also revealed that the circulation of fake N1,000 rose from 58.45 per cent to 78.5 per cent between 2017 to 2021 making it the most forged note in the country.

The document obtained from the CBN showed that fake notes maintained an upward trend with 58.45 per cent in 2017, 65.29 per cent in 2018, 69.06 per cent in 2020, and 78.50 per cent in 2021, with a reduction of 52.48 per cent in 2019.

Also, the N500 and N200 were the second and third-highest forged notes, respectively.

The PUNCH recalls that one of the reasons listed for the naira redesign was the increasing ease and risk of counterfeiting evidenced by several security reports.

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THE IGBO CULTURE OF I KPÓPÙ (TAKING SOMEONE OUT)

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The Igbo culture of I kpópù is one such lingo in the Igbo language that cannot be given an easy, direct translation, just as it is somehow complex in its simplicity, for the non-Igbo to understand, replicate, or practice.

One can only contextually approximate an interpretation, like to say it is about ‘taking someone out’, which as a normal English language expression could mean to kill someone. But here, it is directly opposite to the above, to mean or at least suggest, to take someone to another clime, to teach or help him secure a means of livelihood, for a better future.

The Igbo culture of I kpópù is very well different from I gba boyi, which is the popular system where a lad is taken into apprenticeship in a business by an established person he serves for some time, usually going into years, and is thereafter settled with a start-up at the end of the term of his learning. There are usually agreements that are followed, even when nothing is cast in stone.

In I Kpópù, a person, younger or older, simply follows someone, a relative, friend, or just somebody persuaded to assist, to his base, within the country or abroad, to help him ‘find his feet.’ He could take him into his business or give him out to someone else who does the kind of business the young man is interested in. Whatever, he serves as his guardian and mentor hence he oversees everything he does, to ensure he is well and achieves his aspirations.

Most times when people are taken out, it is an epic, destiny-shaping journey. While the benefactor makes everything available within his powers, to make the beneficiary succeed, it is expected of the latter to apply himself fully and with diligence to his hustling. Most times, they are taught trades or skills, or even become boyi (apprentice), depending on many factors, ranging from personal preferences to available opportunities. Of course, the conditions are usually not a bed of roses, of which the indomitable Igbo spirit of can-do, overcomes.

In most cases, whoever is taken out is not expected to pay back as it is usually help just offered to a kinsman, friend, or even a recommended stranger, keen to succeed in life. However, appreciation is usually shown in many ways, like acknowledging the benefactor’s intervention through verbal testimonies, presentation of gifts as well as hosting of such individuals and friends, among others, while also making oneself available as an instrument of help to others. That is why for everyone who takes out someone, someone else had possibly taken him out, just as the last in the chain is expected to take someone out too in the future.

Igbo people, especially the youths, value this Igbo culture of I kpópù a lot. Many lives have been changed through this practice. Today in Igbo land, it is therefore common to rate people, not necessarily by what they have for themselves, but by the number of those they have helped to also become successful. And this is one of the means. So, now the seasons and celebrations are over and people are returning to their bases, many have in tow youngsters who are going to pursue their dreams and destinies across the world. And rest assured by this time next year, many of them would come back successful.

And they would be very much ready to take yet other scores of young men with them, to take their shots at life. This is one of the ways the South East of Nigeria has continued to have the highest per capita income in the country. As such, while it is everyone’s right to hustle, it is expected of every brother to extend that privilege of assistance to a brother, to make his dreams come true.

Written by Wordshot Amaechi Ugwele

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EEDC NOTIFIES CUSTOMERS OF PLANNED PREPAID METER UPGRADE

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Below is an official statement to that effect:

The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) has notified its customers that by 24th November 2024, all prepaid meters in its network will cease to accept credit tokens, unless they are upgraded.

This is as a result of a software upgrade which will be affecting all Standard Transfer Specification (STS) compliant prepaid meters across the globe.

The upgrade will be implemented through a special ‘reset token’ known as “Key Change Token” (KCT), which will be loaded on their meters, to have them upgraded.

Customers of EEDC that are using prepaid meters are therefore advised to ensure that their meters are upgraded before the set date of 24th November 2024, to avoid losing them.

The management of EEDC appeals to its customers to remain calm and not panic, as they will be notified of the process and modalities for the upgrade.

For enquiries and further clarification, customers are to call: 084 700 100, SMS/Whatsapp: 0815 082 6060 or 0815 082 6061, or send email to: customerservice@enugudisco.com

EMEKA EZEH
HEAD, CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, EEDC
24/07/2023

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[TACKLING HARD TIMES] HERE ARE VEGETABLES YOU CAN GROW IN POTS ON YOUR BALCONY

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Today, many Nigerians are particularly challenged as to how to make ends meet. It is therefore important to think of simple and creative ways to boost your standard of living without spending more. As vegetables are what we need all the time, sourcing them can be quite expensive and time-consuming too.

But you can create your own little garden within the building and have fun too in having handy those fresh veggies you desire. This is all too easy if you have water as we already have enough sunlight here to provide the ideal weather needed for the plants to grow and do well.

hot peppers growing in a container

Indeed, there are many people that would love to start a vegetable garden but simply don’t have the outdoor space to do it. These days, many people live in apartments and high rises and simply don’t have any outdoor space to work with for gardening. Luckily, gardeners are no longer relegated to building raised beds or starting in-ground gardens, and there are a wide variety of vegetables that are well-suited to container gardening. 

Growing vegetables in containers gives you the option of creating a vegetable garden on your balcony or patio, or even indoors near a sunny window.

Just about every vegetable that you could ever want to grow outdoors in a garden can also be grown in a container garden on your balcony, and your vegetables will thrive in containers as well, as long as you provide the proper growing conditions and care, and select a container that is large enough to house the plant comfortably, and allows plenty of space for its roots to expand as it matures. 

In this article, we’ll tell you which vegetables are great for growing in pots in a balcony or patio garden setup, go over each vegetables basic growing preferences, highlight the best varieties of each vegetable for container gardening, and finally, we’ll give a few tips and pointers about starting your own balcony vegetable garden.

red tomatoes

TOMATOES

Tomatoes are some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers. As long as you have a location that receives at least five to six hours of sunlight per day, you can grow tomatoes in your balcony container garden with ease. If you have limited space, try growing a dwarf variety, or cherry tomatoes instead of one of the larger tomato varieties. Tomato varieties that are well suited to container gardening include Patio Princess, BushSteak, Sweetheart of the Patio, Tumbler, and Glacier. 

For more on how to grow tomatoes in containers, click here.


BEANS

Pole beans and bush beans are both well-suited to container gardens. All you need is a spot that gets lots of sunlight, a pot that is at least one foot deep, and a trellis-like structure for the vines to grow on (for climbing varieties), and you can expect to see a good crop of beans that are ready to harvest within just a few short weeks. Good bush bean varieties to grow in containers include Bush Blue Lake, or Contender. For pole beans that are well-suited to containers, try Cherokee Trail of Tears. For green bean varieties that grow well in pots, try out Mascotte Green Beans.  

For more information on how to grow green beans in containers, click here. For more on how to grow other types of beans, click here.


PEPPERS

Aside from tomatoes and radishes, peppers are the easiest vegetable to grow in containers, and they are voracious producers as well. You will need to provide a large, deep pot, preferably at least one foot deep for ideal growth. Keep your peppers in full sun and start providing fertilizer when the plant flowers until it is done producing fruit. The best pepper plants for containers are Jalapeno, Yellow Spice Jalapeno, Early Jalapeno, Shishito, Poblano, Bolivian Rainbow, Numex Twilight, Fushimi, and Devil’s Tongue peppers

To learn more about growing hot or sweet pepper plants in containers, click here.

CARROTS

Carrots are easy to grow in containers as long as you select the right varieties. You want to pick carrots that are short instead of the standard carrot types, as the standard carrot varieties need more room for their roots to grow. Also, make sure to select a container that is deep enough to support their long taproots. Avoid overwatering and keep foliage dry to avoid issues with mildew. The best carrot varieties for pots are Romeo, Tonda di Parigi, and Little Finger. 

For more on how to grow carrots in containers, click here


PEAS

Pretty much all varieties of peas are good for container gardening, but dwarf varieties and bush varieties are preferred, especially if you are limited on space for your vegetable garden. Peas enjoy moist soil and cool weather and containers that are six to 12 inches deep depending on the cultivar. If your container is at least one foot in diameter, you can fit four to six pea plants in it comfortably. The best peas for container gardening are Peas-in-a-Pot, Tom Thumb, Snowbird, and Little SnapPea Crunch

To learn more about growing peas, click here


EGGPLANT/GARDEN EGG

Eggplants are fairly large vegetables, but as long as you provide at least a five-gallon pot that is wide enough to provide plenty of room for each eggplant you grow, they will perform very well in pots on your balcony. Eggplants require six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day and regular fertilization. Eggplant plants require support when they start producing fruit, so make sure to remember to provide stakes or cages to help support the weight of the heavy eggplant fruits. The best varieties of eggplant for container gardening are Fairy Tale, Bambino, Crescent Moon, Hansel, and Gretel. 

To learn more about growing eggplants, click here.


TIPS FOR GROWING VEGETABLES IN POTS ON YOUR BALCONY


  • Do not use soil from the ground when growing in containers, as it is typically heavy and may cause drainage issues, and it may contain pests or soil-borne diseases that could hurt your crops. Instead, use potting soil, preferably potting soil that is specifically formulated for vegetables. A top of the line, organic potting soil is ideal, and feel free to mix in some well-rotted compost, or worm castings to increase the organic matter and improve water retention and drainage. 
  • Make sure that your balcony gets plenty of sunlight, as the majority of vegetables and herbs enjoy at least eight hours of sunlight per day. If your balcony or patio area doesn’t get that much sun, you will need to adjust what you are growing in that area. A handful of root vegetables, like carrots and radishes, as well as leafy greens like lettuce, chard, and kale, only need four to six hours of sunlight to thrive. Look for a spot on the porch, deck, or driveway area that does get eight hours of sun for your other vegetables and herbs that thrive in full sun conditions. 
  • Make sure that you have a water source nearby, as vegetables are very thirsty plants and they will need a lot of water during the growing season to develop plenty of fruit for harvests. Having a water source nearby will keep you from having to lug watering cans full of water for long distances to keep your plants hydrated. 
  • Take a look above the location where you are planning on keeping your containers for your vegetable garden and try to avoid placing them under the awning of your balcony or right up against the house. Making sure your plants have access to rainfall can cut a lot of work out of caring for your plants, as you won’t need to manually water them after a heavy rain, as long as they are in a position where they are receiving that rainfall whenever it comes along. 
  • Pick containers that are large enough to support the root systems of the plants that you are wanting to grow and large enough so that the plants have plenty of room to grow to full size without needing to be repotted. Make sure that the containers that you choose have ample drainage. Here is a quick guide to selecting the right size pots for the vegetables and herbs that you want to grow:

One to two gallon containers (for small plants) – Leafy greens like lettuce, kale, chard, collards, and spinach. Other plants that work for one to two gallon containers include grape and cherry tomatoes, kohlrabi, and individual herb plants.

Five to eight gallon containers (for medium plants) – Most brassicas fit into this size container, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, as well as medium-sized tomato plants, okra, and bush-style cucumber plants. 

Eight to ten gallon containers (for large plants) – Most large vegetables will fit into these size containers, including peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatillos, large tomatoes, and bush type winter squash varieties. 

Ten to fifteen gallon containers (for extra large plants) – These extra large containers will suffice for individual plants of extra large tomatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, and artichokes. 

  • Good companion plants for pairing up veggies in extra large containers or for growing near to each other in separate containers:
    • Plant beans with carrots and squash, or pair beans with eggplants. 
    • Plant tomatoes with basil, garlic, and onions. 
    • Pair lettuce with herb plants like basil, rosemary, and thyme. 
    • Plant spinach with chard and onions.
  • Avoid planting these plants near one another, even in separate containers:
    • Keep bean plants away from onion and garlic.
    • Keep carrots away from dill or fennel.
    • Don’t plant tomatoes near squash or potatoes.
    • Don’t plant onions near beans or peas.

Starting your own vegetable garden on your balcony or patio space is fun and easy. Growing vegetables in containers can be nearly as prolific as growing them directly in the ground, and container gardening can drastically reduce issues with pests and soil-borne diseases. If you have a balcony or patio with ample space and plenty of sunlight, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start your own container garden today. 

Source: Gardening Channel

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