Naira redesign: No going back on Jan 31 deadline for old notes – CBN

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Godwin-Emefiele

…as Senate seeks extension of withdrawal date to July 31

…as Reps summon bank operators, CBN Governor over scarcity of new naira notes

… Nigerians, traders appeal for extension of Jan. 31 deadline

By Seun Ibiyemi

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has said that no going back on Jan. 31 deadline to stop the circulation of old Naira notes.

Emefiele gave the clarification on Tuesday in Abuja, after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the apex bank.

According to him, the 90 days window given by the CBN for Nigerians to deposit their old currencies was enough.

“We called on the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to extend their working hours, and to work on weekends.

“There is no reason to talk about a shift. The new currencies are available,” he said.

Emefiele said that the apex bank had mandated the DMBs to feed the new notes into their Automated Teller Marchines (ATMs) for Nigerians to have equal access.

“We have increased disbursement of the new notes to them. There is adequate quantity of new notes available.

“Our mint is producing and we are supplying the banks. We have super agents in underserved areas like riverine communities, and CBN staff members have been out on mobilisation.

“We believe that by Jan. 31, the new naira notes would have permeated the nooks and crannies of the country,” he said.

He said that the CBN had so far received about N1.5 trillion of the old Naira notes.

He urged Nigerians to accelerate the process of taking their old notes to the banks before the deadline, adding that they should not fear harassment for security agents.

“We have begged the EFCC and the ICPC to allow Nigerians deposit their old Naira notes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senate  urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the withdrawal date of the old naira notes from Jan. 31 to July 31.

The upper chamber also urged the CBN to open an exchange window where people that don’t have bank accounts to deposit their old notes to do so.

The senate’s resolutions were sequel to a motion by Sen. Sadiq Suleiman (APC-Kwara) during Tuesday’s plenary.

Moving the motion, Suleiman recalled that the Senate in it’s resolution on Dec. 28, 2022, urged the CBN to extend the use of the old notes from Jan. 31 to June 30.

He said that however, the apex bank had insisted on terminating the use of the old naira notes by end of Jan.

Suleiman lamented that there was no enough new naira notes in circulation and as such, moved that the date should be extended to July 31.

He said, “Experiences around the world have shown that such abrupt decision if not controlled usually created chaos.

“The Senate should extend the use of the old notes to July 31,” he said.

Supporting the motion, Sen. Ibrahim Hadejia (APC-Jigawa) said that the call for extension was for their constituents and not for their (lawmakers) personal benefits.

“In my constituency, no Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is dispensing the new notes.”

Similarly, Sen. Adamu Aliero (PDP-Kebbi) said that the the policy would inflict untold hardship on people living in the rural areas.

“The CBN Governor should be invited,” he said.

Sen. Adamu Bulkachuwa (PDP-Bauchi) said that the extension was necessary otherwise there would be chaos.

Sen. Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti) who decried that in her Local Government Area, about 90 per cent of the people have not seen a glimpse of the new naira notes, called on the apex bank to “look away from the elections”.

She said that if the date was not extended, it would lead to collateral damage which would not augur well for the economy.

Sen. Mohammed Ndume (APC-Borno) called on the Senate to use its oversight responsibility on the CBN to “order the the CBN Governor to extend the date.”

He said that the power of the senate should not be played down calling on the senators to stand firm on the call for extension.

For Sen. Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi) who was the only senator who opposed the motion, “Nigerians do not have the culture of keeping their money in the bank.

“It is in Nigeria where cash is used arbitrarily; other countries use electronic means.

“Nigerians are just averse to change,” Egwu said.

In his remarks, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that most of the senatorial districts did not have banks.

He said, “In rural Nigeria, there are no banks and people transact businesses with cash more often.

“There is no doubt that we must have window for exchange. We must have policies by the CBN to have bank branches established in rural areas.

“We need this extension for the most ordinary Nigerians,” Lawan said.

As scarcity bite hard, the House of Representatives has summoned bank operators and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele.

The bank operators are to appear on Wednesday, while the CBN Governor will appear on Thursday.

This is sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance by Rep. Sanda Soli (APC-Katsina) at the plenary in Abuja on Tuesday.

In his motion, Soli said that all over the world, currencies were being ‘phased out’ and not ‘forced out’.

He said,“I am of the view that our currencies are being forced out and there is the need for some reviews and sensitisation by CBN and non-bank promoters.”

The lawmaker called for review of the cashless policy, adding that CBN should ensure price stability.

Although Soli said that the cashless policy was in tandem with global best practices, he, however, added that most banks in Nigeria did not have what it takes to ensure that such was achieved.

He decried what he called the CBN’s refusal to listen to the cry of Nigerians for the extension of the Jan. 31 deadline for the deposit of the old naira notes, stating that this might have negative effect on the economy.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila, said that as good as the policy was, the modus operandi and the timing were the problem.

Gbajabiamila said that the currency should be phased out gradually, such that Nigerians would use the old and new naira together.

“There is nothing wrong in reviewing a policy; banks are claiming they don’t have the new naira notes, while CBN is also claiming the banks have them,” he said.

The speaker said that banks’ Managing Directors should be invited to brief the leadership or the ad-hoc committee to find out whether the money was available or they are being hoarded by banks.

The House, however, called for a six-month extension of the deadline to make the new notes available and that President Muhammadu Buhari should intervene on the debacle in the interest of Nigerians.

The House also set up an Ad-hoc committee, led by Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, to meet with bank operators on Wednesday on Jan. 31 deadline on the old currency.

Also residents and traders in Osogbo, Osun capital, have appealed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for extension of the time in which the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes cease to be legal tenders in the country.

Speaking with journalists on Tuesday, a cross section of residents and traders in Osogbo complained that some banks were still dispensing the old Naira notes.

They were concerned that if the new Naira notes were not made available, a lot of people would be stuck with the old notes by the expiration date of the deadline.

Mr Adeniji Awolola, a resident of Osogbo, explained that, as at yesterday, when he went to withdraw money from his bank, he was still paid with freshly minted old N1,000 notes.

“Although their Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are dispensing the new Naira notes, customers were still being paid with the old notes over the counter.

“My worry is, after withdrawing money for business transactions in large amount, or being paid with the old Naira notes, how will ordinary Nigerians swap the old notes with the new ones before the Jan. 31 deadline?

“This becomes more worrisome when we take into consideration that some business owners only deal with cash.

“I just hope the CBN would extend the deadline, at least for a month, to enable the new notes to circulate well enough before phasing out the old notes.” he said.

Another resident, Mr Timothy Adeoye, said his worry was for old people and those living in areas where there are no banks.

“We know that most of our old parents don’t have the luxury or strength to go to banks for transactions, so they always keep their little feeding money at home.

“I don’t know if enlightenment about the new naira notes has got to them, but I think if the CBN will not extend the deadline, these old people should be given exception to swap the money they have at home, when they are able to do so.

“It is true that there is a limit to how much an individual can keep at home that will not constitute money laundering, but these old people couldn’t have kept or have that kind of money at home,” he said.

Similarly, Mrs Adetutu Damola, a trader at Alekuwodo Market, Osogbo, said that a lot of her customers were still paying her with the old Naira notes and that she had only seen or received the new notes a couple of times.

“Most of us, traders, hardly have time to take money to the bank on daily basis for deposit and we often circulate the money we have to buy more goods.

“If the CBN insists that the deadline would be Jan.31, it means we, too, will stop collecting the old notes a week or some days to the deadline in order to avoid having the old notes in our possession after the deadline.

“Our customers are complaining that the new notes are not available in their banks and that’s why they are paying us with the old notes. So, does that mean we should start rejecting the old notes?

“I think the CBN should allow the new notes to be available to everyone before it phases out the old notes.” she said.

Mr Yusuf Adeleye, a furniture maker in Osogbo, said that though they were often paid by their customers through money transfers, some still pay them with cash.

Adeleye said that going by the CBN deadline, “it means we will stop collecting cash all together, and we will switch fully to cashless transactions.

“If, God forbid, I sell a piece of furniture worth N300,000 to a customer on Jan. 31 and I collect cash but unable to get to my bank before the close of work at 4.00 p.m., what happens to the cash in my possession?

“With the old Naira notes deadline now, it means we have to stop collecting cash, to prevent getting stuck with the old currency after the deadline,” he said.