The scarcity of the new naira notes took a worse turn on Monday as currency racketeers took advantage of the situation to exploit Nigerians who were desperate to obtain the currencies.
In Abuja, the nation’s capital, Lagos, Anambra and other states, black marketers were observed selling the new notes to those who could not endure the long queues at Automated Teller Machine stands.
A currency seller, Abdul Mohammed, operating under Dei-Dei pedestrian bridge in the Federal Capital Territory, said the inability of banks to distribute the new notes has increased the demand for them.
“We normally sell N10,000 for N13,000 and N20, 000 for N26,000. I will provide all the denominations you want. I have N200, N500 and N1,000 new naira notes,’’ he offered.
When asked if he could supply N600,000 new notes, he promised to notify our correspondent when the notes were available for collection.
He said, “The new notes are very scarce and that is why we charge more. Getting the new notes is very tough and expensive for us. The issue of changing the notes has caused a lot of problems. There is high demand for it. I get the notes at very expensive rates too.
“It is also not available at banks because people are rushing to buy it there; we are not enjoying the business at this time.
“We sell a bundle of 200 notes for N300,000; N500 is even cheaper than that. Some get it from the bank but it gets exhausted quickly.”
A currency exchange operator, who chose to remain anonymous, explained that the currency exchangers maintain a relationship with bank staff, adding, however, that they do not pay for the currencies, except by way of incentives or when there is an increase in demand.
“Currency exchangers basically form relationships with bank staff. If I need an amount, all I do is put a call through to my contact in the bank, ask for the availability of what I need, find out the buy rate, and buffer it by N5-N10 to resell.
“Most times, we don’t offer the bank staff anything. We just give incentives once in a while. Except there is high demand and limited supply, that’s when they can demand something. N50,000 mint (new notes), for example, could resell for about N53,000 or N60, 000, at most,’’ he explained.