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HomeCurrencyNew Naira Notes: NGF, National Assembly, CBN Heading For Showdown

New Naira Notes: NGF, National Assembly, CBN Heading For Showdown

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  • Govs Forum, Senate, Reps Seek Extension
  • Emefiele Adamant, Says No Going Back On Jan 31 Deadline
  • Empty ATMs Dot Ikeja, Ibadan, Others

By Babajide Okeowo

As the January 31, 2023 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the phasing out of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes inches closer, the governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele is heading for a showdown with Nigeria’s Governors Forum (NGF) and the National Assembly as both institutions are calling for an extension of the deadline while the apex bank has remained adamant that the deadline remains sacrosanct.

The two chambers of the National Assembly and the Governors Forum have asked the CBN to extend the deadline for acceptance of the old Naira notes.

The House of Representatives and the Senate in separate resolutions on Tuesday asked the CBN to extend the deadline till 31 July 2023.

The decision of the House to ask for the extension followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) during plenary.

READ ALSO: *CBN Gov.counts Naira Redesign Gains, insists on January 31 Old Notes Withdrawal Deadline*

Moving the motion, Mr Soli said banking and other financial institutions are struggling to cope with the rush by citizens to change their old currencies to new notes. He said the shortage of new notes is creating panic.

“Banks and Point of Sales (POS) outlets are struggling with the shortage of the redesigned new Naira notes ahead of the CBN deadline of January 31, 2023, consequently making it difficult for them to comply with the CBN directives as regards availability of the new notes for customers.

“Despite several concerns and appeals by the National Assembly, the Governors Forum, the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, and a host of other stakeholders in the country for the CBN to extend the period for the currency swap of the new Naira notes as well as a review of the cashless policy, the CBN has remained adamant on the given deadline,” he said.

The upper chamber has also called for the extension of the deadline following the adoption of a motion moved by Sodiq Umar (APC, Kwara), who argued that the policy is affecting the people negatively.

Speaking in support of the motion, Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti), stated that most Nigerians have never gotten the opportunity to touch the new notes, adding that the timeline for the implementation of the policy is too short.

However, amid the calls for an extension, the CBN governor on Tuesday at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja said the apex bank’s January 31, 2023 deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes remain.

He insisted that there is no reason for the nation’s currency in circulation to rise from N1.4 trillion to N3.2 trillion in seven years, saying that some persons are hoarding the naira and embracing currency speculation.

“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.”

 Emefiele also 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.

He said 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 bank chief further stressed that CBN agents are all over the country including areas around Sambisa in Borno State.

“I’ll give a few examples: we have some information and videos about our staff and agents and how they are doing cash swaps in our communities. In areas like Baga, Monguno, Rann on the Lake Chad Basin, in Banki, Kirawa, Gwoza on the borders of Cameroon, Ngoshe, Bama, Chibok, Damboa, Ngala, Izge…all these are areas around the Sambisa. Our agents and our staff are all there conducting cash swaps and exchanges of old to new currencies,” he said.

Emefiele also expressed hope that before the deadline, all the “noise” about the scarcity of new notes would have subsided.

Meanwhile, investigations by The Matrix has shown that many banks on the Adeniyi Jones in Ikeja left their ATMs empty while the few dispensing only allow the maximum withdrawal of N20, 000 per account.

Of all the banks on the ever-busy road, only FCMB, First Bank and GTCO were dispensing the new N1,000 notes while several other banks including Access Bank, the two Union Banks, two Zenith Banks on the Road, Keystone Bank were not dispensing.

The security men are quick to tell customers that the machines are not dispensing.

One of the security men who spoke to The Matrix on the condition of anonymity disclosed that the ATMs were not loaded by the banks because the banks do not have the new cash and they do not want to risk the sanction by CBN because of the directive that only new notes should be loaded in the ATMs.

The story is not different in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital as scores of residents of the ancient city decried their inability to get money from ATMs.

The residents lamented that they spent several hours in the queue without getting cash from the machines.

A Daily Post correspondent who reportedly went around the town observed that the situation worsened as some banks failed to load their ATMs.

Residents who spoke with our correspondent described the situation as unfortunate and urged the CBN to intervene.

A customer who identified himself as Okediji Michael said he had been in one of the banks since the early hours of the day because he needed cash to take care of himself.

“I have been here since 7:24 am to withdraw because today is my check-up day. I have been sitting here and when I had the opportunity of entering, they said they don’t have the new notes.”

Another customer, Miss Adenike, said she had been to about three banks and was unable to withdraw from any of them.

“My dear brother, I have been to about three banks but I have been unable to withdraw. One of the security personnel confided in me that they didn’t have the new notes that the people have been expecting the machines to dispense. I have been stranded because I don’t even have a dime on me”.

As the deadline inches closer, it is left to be seen if the apex bank will bow to pressure and extend the deadline.

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