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Collaboration of CBN with stakeholders on new naira notes withdrawal limits



It is exactly 21 days to the deadline issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the return of the old N200, N500, and N1,000  banknotes following the currency redesign programme. But, what has been pondering on mind is this: can the apex bank beat the deadline (January 31st) considering the fact that the old currency is still in circulation and in dominance with about 60 percent circulation even within Capital City, Abuja which is CBN’s Power House?

Recall the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had on October 26, 2022 announced the central bank’s resolve to redesign, produce, and circulate new series of the N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations.

The appraisal and approach to the new currency by Nigerians was another setback considering that most people especially the hoi polloi were widely seen rejecting the currency including Okada riders and market women who are merely focusing on the appearance of the notes without deepening their thoughts on the positive purpose of the initiatives.

One of the analysts who expressed his feelings concerning the notes is a Professor of Finance and Capital Markets at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Professor Uche Uwaleke, who said though he does not support calls for an extension of the deadline for withdrawal of the old notes at the end of the month, but the CBN must address the concerns over the availability of the new currency.

The former Imo State Commissioner for Finance said, “Since December 15, 2022, more than two weeks after the CBN began distributing the new naira notes via the banks, you hardly find them in circulation. The bulk of cash withdrawals from the banks and POS agents are still  being done with old naira notes.

“It appears the banks have been hoarding the new naira notes for distribution to their high-net-worth customers most of whom are politicians, especially this festive period.”

Uwaleke also said, “If the January 31, 2023 deadline must be kept, I expect the CBN to push out more of the redesigned notes and also ensure that the banks are dispensing them to their customers. This has become necessary given the upward revision of the cash withdrawal limit from N100,000 to N500,000 per week for individuals.

“Else, at the current slow rate and the lopsided manner in which the distribution of the new naira notes is being done by the banks, I foresee a situation where the deadline is extended by at least two weeks.

“Having said that, I do not support the idea of extending it to June 30, 2023, as has been canvassed in some quarters. Doing so would defeat one of the aims of the currency redesign, which is to discourage vote-buying, in view of the fact that the general election would have been over by then.”

Eventually, the apex bank has warned the commercial banks in the country to stop putting old notes in ATMs or face a penalty. The bank explained that the new and existing currencies shall remain legal tender and circulate together until January 31, 2023, when the existing currencies shall cease to be legal tender.

With 21 days to the deadline given to Nigerians to deposit their old notes, the CBN has reiterated that there will be no extension. The CBN recently emphasised that there will be no timeline extension, “so all are advised to ensure they deposit the N200, N500 and N1,000 Banknotes in their possession before the deadline of January 31, 2023.”

The Nigerian Senate had called on the CBN to extend the deadline to phase out the old naira notes till June 30, 2023.

Amid complaints that the new naira notes are not fully in circulation, the CBN on Friday launched a countdown to the January 31 deadline when the old notes will cease to be legal tender. The apex bank announced the countdown on its Twitter page on Friday, noting the deadline now remains 21 days and a few hours.

But reactions had trailed the countdown by CBN as Nigerians took to their Twitter handles to express their grievances on the new development. Amid the rising demand for the new naira notes, the CBN equally dismissed speculations over the inadequacy of the new notes in the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), saying the banks have enough new notes to circulate across the nation ahead of the January 31 deadline when old notes will cease to be a legal tender.

The CBN also clarified that it did not ban the banks from paying customers the new notes over the counter, pointing out that the directive to the banks to dispense new notes via Automated Teller Machines (ATM) was to complement over-the-counter transactions and increase the circulation of the redesigned notes.

However, the Apex bank Director, Currency Operations, Mr Ahmed Umar, while speaking at the Training Session for State Directors, National Orientation Agency (NOA) on Redesign of Currency Notes Policy in Abuja on Monday, reiterated that CBN had directed the banks to load their ATMs with only new notes to ensure that the currency circulates across the nation ahead of the January 31 deadline, urging commercial banks in the country to make sure that they comply with the directive of loading the newly redesigned naira notes in their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

He noted that the CBN’s directive was to implement the January 31 deadline withdrawal of old naira notes (N200, N500 and N1,000) in circulation. The management has mandated banks to stop putting old notes in their ATM machines. They should only put the new notes. And here is a serialisation of the policy that they can put either N500, N1,000 or N200 notes whichever denomination they have or combination of any of those notes, they should just put a new note in their machines.

The CBN needs to partner with sister agencies in the financial Sector and stakeholders to ensure strict and fast circulation of the new currencies across the country. This is because the current stage of circulation cannot beat the targeted deadline. Also, the Apex bank should beam its torchlight on the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to avert possible connivance with the money bags richmen on the grounds of hoarding.


Articulated vehicles and the scourge of avoidable deaths



Nigerians across the country continue to die utterly preventable deaths thanks to a lack of political will on the part of its leaders. It is an ugly fate thrust upon its citizens to live in a country whose economy is built upon the blood of the ordinary people, not out of sacrifice, but nonchalance. Articulated vehicles wipe out families, dreams, and human capital in one fell swoop. Press statements from the leaders are not enough. We need the May 2024 immediacy of the Tinubu administration in this sector too.

Last week, a falling container killed a woman in the Ogudu area of Lagos. The woman was inside a car when the fully loaded 40ft Mack articulated truck fell on it, leading to her instant death, according to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA).

In October 2023, a businessman identified as Akuma Kalu, was crushed to death by a 40-feet container that fell on his car along the failed portion of Etche-Ngokpala road in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers state.

In September 2023, five women died in a fatal accident that occurred in the early hours of Friday at Odumodu Junction, Nteje, Oyi Local Government Area along Awka Road, Anambra State. As usual, the container of the truck fell upon the bus carrying these people, killing them. We could go on and on. The story remains the same: tragedy upon tragedy.

Every year, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, does sensitisation with little result to show for it because the arm of the law is too short to punish offenders at the root of the problem. The constant assault on the senses has led to a desensitisation on the part of the populace. Month after month, another story of a truck that erases a family, or multiple families because its brakes fail, or its container is overturned. The combination of the death of empathy on the part of leaders and the emotional exhaustion of the citizens will lead Nigeria down the path of a dystopia.

The governors of each state have a responsibility to institute laws to protect the indigenes. This, the Federal Government must also do nationwide. The FRSC has rules and regulations for trucks. The Government needs to only enforce these rules. Enough of blaming the trucks themselves because they are not the evil entities. The lack of accountability and a weak system perpetuates the dilemma.

The political class should not wait until Nigeria happens to one of their own before acting as is usually the case. Most cases bear the mark of immediate fatality. By the time a family member experiences it, it would have already been too late. We have hope that this administration will do what it takes to restore hope to the common man. Time to act is now.

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Renewed Hope Initiative: Beating back inequality in all spheres



Nigeria is full of inequalities that its leaders contend with administration after administration. With every President comes a partner who shares in the vision, and does her part to alleviate the pains of the citizens. Oluremi Tinubu has etched her name in the annals of history as one of such compassionate ones.

Recently, in Abeokuta she flagged off the Renewed Hope Initiative for women in agriculture and people living with disabilities nationwide in a bid to achieve this noble goal of equity in Nigeria.

“We are supporting 20 women farmers per state with the sum of N500,000 each. To this end, a draft of N10 million per state for the South West zone will be handed over to the first ladies of Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo states who are the Renewed Hope Initiative (RHI) state coordinators for onward disbursement to all beneficiaries in their respective states,” she said.

“The Renewed Hope Initiative Social Investment Programme will be empowering 100 persons with disability, small business owners in Ogun State with a sum of N100,000 each to recapitalise their existing businesses.”

In Kebbi, represented by the Wife of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Fatima Tajuddeen Abbas, in Birnin Kebbi, she said, “Agriculture plays a pivotal role in achieving sustainable development and food security. Consequently, we are introducing ‘Every Home a Garden’ competition to encourage each Nigerian woman to cultivate a garden at home to feed the family and share with neighbours, we want to see food on every table.”

We commend the forward thinking and passion for national growth required for such a herculean task. If emulated in all quarters, it will stimulate the economy at the grassroots. It is well acknowledged that the government cannot do it alone. Private individuals who are capable must rise up to contribute to national growth.

It isn’t alien to the Nigerian condition, after all. The country was able to survive the assaults of the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to the joint efforts of private individuals under the umbrella of Coalition Against COVID-19, CACOVID, a Private Sector task force in partnership with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). The Renewed Hope Initiative joins the tradition of programmes committed to national improvement. History will look upon it kindly.


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Increasing access to community healthcare



Recently the World Health Organisation (WHO) decried the increasing threat to the right to health of millions of people across the world. The WHO Council on the Economics of Health for All has stated that 140 countries recognise health as a human right. Unfortunately, these countries are not passing and putting into practice laws to ensure that their citizens are entitled to access health services. According to the global health agency, about 4.5 billion people, over half of the world’s population, were not fully covered by essential health services in 2021.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, in her message underscored the fact that health is not only a fundamental human right, but also central to peace and security. According to her, addressing health inequities requires intentional efforts. Considerations of vulnerable groups must be addressed. Their needs ought to be purposefully integrated into health programmes at all levels to accelerate progress toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

‘My health, my right,’ the global agency used the occasion to call for action to uphold the right to health amidst inaction, injustice and crises. The year’s theme, according to the organisers, was chosen to champion the right of everyone, everywhere to have access to quality health services, education, and information, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination.

Moeti noted that many in the African region still need help with access to quality essential health services due largely to unfulfilled rights. She observed that this is further compounded by protracted and ongoing crises such as conflicts, climate change, food insecurity, disease outbreaks and epidemics.

Available figures show that the number of people aged 15 and over living with HIV is still high at an estimated 24.3 million in 2021 (3.4 percent of the total population) compared to 15.6 million in 2015. This underscores the continued transmission of HIV despite reductions in the incidence of people newly infected and the benefits of significantly expanded access to antiretrovirals. Moeti called on member states to uphold the progress towards fulfilling the right to health, agreed by all nations of the world in 1948 and enshrined in the WHO Constitution.

“The right to health is a universal right of all human beings, regardless of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or another status,” Moeti stated.

Nigeria, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, has reiterated the ministry’s commitment to ensure the health and wellbeing of all Nigerians. The minister is of the view that the right to health is not just the ideal, it is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For millions of Nigerians, accessing quality healthcare is a challenge. However, the federal government has mapped out some initiatives to address the challenge. These include Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF) and the Nigeria Health Sector Renewal and Investment Initiative and strategic partnerships through which the health ministry is ensuring access to health of Nigerians in remote communities across the country.

Unfortunately, the right to health for all Nigerians has not been enshrined in our laws. Therefore, we call on the federal and state lawmakers to make laws that will ensure the right to health of all Nigerians. We need laws that will ensure Universal Health Coverage for all Nigerians.

Such laws will ensure that every Nigerian has access to quality health at all times. These include having access to potable water, clean air, quality nutrition and quality housing, decent working environment and freedom from discrimination.

While the laws that will enforce the right to health of all Nigerians are being awaited, the government must improve access to health by ensuring that quality healthcare services are provided at the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) across the 774 local government areas.

If the primary healthcare centres are functional, the nation’s disease burden would have been reduced by over 70 per cent. The government should provide free health services at the PHC level. For Nigeria to increase access to quality health for millions of Nigerians and ensure UHC, the health funding must be significantly increased.

Pathetically, it has become an eyesore that millions of Nigerians living at the grassroots don’t have access to quality healthcare services. This is a wakeup call to the various state Governors and their Chairpersons to reinvest in the health sector, especially the community people.

Most of the health institutions and healthcare facilities are in a dilapidated stage at the rural communities and there is no motivation for health personnel in terms of incentives, knowledge acquisition such as training and retaining of staff, the equipment in various hospitals and clinics are outdated. The federal government in partnership with international donors should reenergise in the health system for the betterment of the masses.

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