Strong indications emerged on Friday, the eve of the presidential elections that the majority of potential voters with Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, may not be able to travel to their respective areas to exercise their fundamental franchise.
This is due to the difficulty in securing the needed cash to travel as a result of the ongoing cash crunch.
While some intra-city commercial drivers were ready to accept electronic transfer of money, others insisted on cash for the transport fares.
An official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, at the Maraba motor park in the FCT, Tunde Babaita, said passengers reduced in the last few days due to the naira crisis.
He told Newspot, in a chat in Ilorin, on Friday that “before the naira crisis, we used to load about 50 vehicles of passengers heading to the Northern part of the country daily.
“But that has reduced to 20 percent since the naira swap crisis started,” he added.
He said while some passengers pay cash for their transport fares, others pay through electronic transfers into the driver’s personal bank account, with an additional N100 service charge for withdrawal by the respective drivers before taking off from the motor park.
Tunde Babaita, who is the branch secretary of the union at the motor park, said he hopes the situation changes after Saturday’s presidential and national assembly elections.
Meanwhile, operators of Point of Sale machines in Ilorin, have hiked charges on cash withdrawals by more than 50 to 100 percent.
A cash withdrawal of N10,000 now attracts a commission of N2,000 and above while N5,000 attracts N1,000 depending on the business location.
A customer who withdrew N7,000 from a PoS operator at the Murtala Muhammad Road, in Ilorin was forced to part with N1,400 as a commission by the operator.
Reacting, a PoS operator blamed the situation on the inability of commercial banks to dispense enough cash to the public.
The operator who identified herself as Mrs Bola while lamenting the scarcity of naira cash said on Thursday that she was at the bank but only customers of the bank who were lucky to gain entry into the banking hall, were allowed to cash N20,000 across the counter.
Newspot reports that the majority of the commercial banks did not operate on Friday as they shut their gates while the ATMs were not functional even as people waited, hoping the machines will be loaded with cash.
In another reaction by a customer, Femi Bode, an Insurance agent in Ilorin, described the current naira swap and fuel scarcity situation as critical.
“We buy fuel at N360 per litre but with the normal official pump price, I will fill my jeep car with about N27,000 and with the present hike, I will need N35,000 to fill my car.
“Business is also at a standstill, I am into pure water production too, and we buy diesel at N800 and above per litre among other overhead costs,” he added.
Femi wondered why the federal government made the N500 and N1,000 obsolete but allowed the N200 old notes as legal tender in the country, saying “we are going through pains never experienced in the history of this country.”
He noted that the timeline for the naira swap policy was too short and wrongly timed as it has affected the poor masses adversely.