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Old Naira Notes: Senate, Reps demand for extension amid CBN’s insistence on January 31st deadline
The Senate and the House of Representatives has requested the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for the stoppage of the use of old naira notes from January 31 till July 31, 2023.
The request by the National Assembly members is coming as the CBN said that its January 31, 2023 deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes remains.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele announced this on Thursday, in Abuja, after the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting.
The CBN also raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), which measures interest rate, to 17.5 percent.
Emefiele claimed that kidnapping and ransom-taking have reduced since the three banknotes were redesigned.
He further said the time allowed for the swap of the old naira notes with new ones were enough for Nigerians to go to commercial banks and get new notes.
He said, “I must say here that unfortunately, I don’t have good news for those who feel that we should shift the deadline. My apologies. The reason is because just like the President has said more than two occasions and even to people privately, that for us, 90 days, in fact, we feel it is 100 days, that it is enough for anyone who has money or the old currency to deposit it in the bank. And we took every measure to ensure all the banks remain open to receive all old currencies.
“100 days we believe is more than adequate. We called on the banks, not only are we requesting you to extend your banking hours so that you can receive old currencies, but we are also asking you to keep your doors open on Saturdays, ladies and gentlemen, the banks did not even have any reasons to even keep their banking halls open on Saturdays neither did they see the kind of rush that they anticipated.
“We do not see any reason to begin to talk about a shift because people could not deposit their old monies into their banks.
“There is adequate quality of new notes available but let all know that it is a process of increasing, not producing. Our Mint is producing and we are supplying to the banks and so it will continue to circulate in the system.”
The CBN Governor said he recently met with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governors Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) and he told them that there is no going back on the January 31 deadline.
According to him, the CBN has 1.4 million super agents nationwide to collect old naira notes in exchange for new notes in riverine and upland areas, saying “money is going down and is circulating to the lower rung of the community”.
“We have 1.4 million points of our super agents; those agents are going to be available to conduct cash exchanges. The super agents are like kiosks, shops in your community, whether it is a riverine or upland area, they are there, selling sweets, selling kola nuts but they have been appointed as agents that will do cash exchange and cash swap for you. This, we have put in place,” he said.
The CBN revealed its intention to redesign the three banknotes on October 26, 2022. On November 23, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari revealed the revised N200, N500, and N1,000 notes; the apex bank set a deadline for the old notes’ validity of January 31.
Many Nigerians have expressed alarm about the three new naira notes’ delayed adoption as the January 31st deadline draws near, but the apex bank has reaffirmed that the deadline still stands.
In order to increase circulation, the CBN recently ordered commercial banks to stop accepting payments for the new notes over the counter and fill their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
To help people in unbanked areas exchange their old notes for new ones in time for the deadline, the apex bank also started a cash swap program that is available nationally.
To enable more Nigerians to acquire the new notes, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum asked the CBN to extend the deadline.
At the Senate on Tuesday, the lawmakers argued that the scheme should continue because banks are still issuing old naira notes because there aren’t enough new ones to go around.
The lawmakers bemoaned the hardship the program is putting Nigerians through, noting that there are lengthy lines at banks all over the nation as customers wait to deposit their old notes and obtain new ones.
Additionally, several lawmakers requested that the Senate support the House of Representatives’ earlier proposal for an extension of the policy and order CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele to extend the deadline.
At the House of Representatives, Sada Soli, said in a motion that for the policy to be successful, it must not be overbearing on the citizens.
The congressman voiced alarm about the fact that banks are complaining of a lack of the new notes while companies are already rejecting the old ones.
The House applauded the central bank’s stance but criticized its implementation, saying it would be unjust to the incoming administration.
The House also requests that President Buhari step in and pressure the CBN.