The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the leadership of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido had in 2012 announced the introduction of the cashless policy programme, with the aim of encouraging and inculcating the use of debit or credit cards, as well as electronic financial transactions.
The policy had stipulated a cash handling charge on daily cash withdrawals that exceed N500,000 for individuals and N3million for corporate bodies, with the sole aim of reducing the amount of physical cash circulating in the economy.
Just as the policy became full-fledged in all the 36 states of the federation on April 1, 2017, the CBN announced a suspension of the policy in 30 states of the federation, while Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, Rivers states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will continue to implement the policy.
With the continuous growth in technological advancement, the policy successful met one of its objectives, which is to encourage the use of more electronic-based transactions for payment of goods, services transfers among others, but has not been meet the needs of some citizenry who need cash and live in suburbs.
Due to the proximity of banks to the residential areas, some Nigerians have had to cultivate the habit of managing available cash at hand, so they do not have to go through the stress of joining queues at Automated Teller Machine (ATM) points, and that is if the ATM is available to dispense cash.
Lugbe is one of the popular suburban settlements in the FCT, along the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport road, in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) with more than 20 housing estates developed and still developing, spanning over 15kilometres on the Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua expressway.
Since the introduction of the cashless policy in Nigeria and FCT, as a resident of Lugbe, it is safe not to run out of cash with the intention of getting the ATM to dispense cash, particular in an emergency period.
A visit to Federal Housing Estate in Lugbe shows that there are only three banks namely Skye, Fidelity and Wema Banks that services the whole of the Lugbe environs until Shoprite Nigeria opened its Novare Gateway mall in Lugbe, housing just two ATM points from Zenith Bank.
It has been a nightmare for residents of Lugbe who want to make withdrawals, especially during the weekends as most of the ATMs operated by these banks either run out of cash or are not capable of dispensing, due to either network issues or faulty machines.
On Sunday, September 2, 2018 at about 8pm while most residents were trying to do some last minute preparation ahead of the new week, it was another sorry tale as all the ATMs within the Federal Housing Area of Lugbe failed to dispense cash, save for one of the 10 ATMs within the banking premises of Skye Bank.
It is worthy of note that there about seven ATMs which has remained in comatose for more than a year, five epileptic ones at the popular Total filling station, two within the premises of Wema Bank, six at Fidelity Bank, ten at Skye bank and another one at the Federal Housing Mortgage Bank which is hardly functional, totaling about 31 of them.
Our reporter who had to spend more than one hour on the queue before successfully being able to make the needed withdrawal, in a chit chat with some residents it was noticed that this has become a common phenomenon that the people have simply become used to.
Save for some residents who had the luxury to drive into the capital city to make withdrawals, most had to return back home disappointed as they could not handle the stress of waiting for long hours at the only functional ATM point at that hour of the night; infact, one retorted saying “that is if it does not even stop dispensing”.
Over the years, residents have continued to express their displeasure to the bank operatives who seem to also consider security reasons for not putting enough funds and not making some independent ATMs functional as it should be.
One of the bank operatives who spoke with The News Chronicle without mentioning his name informed that, the banks had considered the security risks at the location of some of the non-functional ATMs.
“You yourself look at those ATMs before Police Sign Board Junction, there is no form of security to safeguard the machines, anyone who even want to go there to withdraw money is not even safe at night, because of the kind of people, I mean the Aboki boys that are found there, maybe that was why they left it”, he said.
However, in as much as the banks have not been so reliable to dispense cash, this has led to the emergence of more Point of Sale (POS) terminals in make shift shops within the environs, particular ‘Lugbe Across’ which is a combination of a slum and suburb area.
The POS operators have continued to make brisk business as residents prefer to patronize them, rather than wasting little funds they have left to use an ATM that may not be functional.
A cursory look at the activities of the POS operators within the area shows that, it is more economical to patronize them than having to spend money on transportation to the city center or Federal Housing Estate, to make deposit or withdrawals depending on the amount involved.
Even though the emergence of POS operators which had been synonymous with chain stores and retail malls have been a succor to the Lugbe residents, they still constrained due to security reasons, as most of them manage their opening and closing time based on security measures.
‘Lugbe Across’ which is street named from Zone 1 to Zone 9 is a volatile environment adjoining various housing estates.