NASS kicks as Emefiele insists on January 31 deadline for return of old naira notes

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The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele has maintained that the old N200, N500 and N1, 000 notes would cease to be legal tender after January 31.

Emefiele stated this while addressing journalists after the apex bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting held yesterday in Abuja.

Emefiele also disclosed that to date, between N1.3 trillion and N1.5 trillion of the old naira notes had so far been returned, adding that the figure was expected to reach about N2 trillion at the end of the week.

He added that the central bank is currently printing more banknotes which would be supplied to banks to boost availability as the old notes would expire at the end of the month.

He said there was no reason to shift the deadline since every measure was taken by the CBN to ensure that the public was able to deposit their old currency notes with the banks and/or swap the old currencies for new ones before the closing date.

The CBN governor observed that kidnapping and ransom-taking incidents had reduced since the three banknotes were redesigned.

“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 90 days, we feel it’s 100 days, should be enough for those who have the old currency to deposit it, the money, in the banks. And we took every measure to ensure that all the banks were open to receive all old currencies. 100 days, we believe, is more than adequate.”

Recall that the CBN had, also at the meeting raised the MPR, which measures interest rate, to 17.5 per cent as part of measures to contain inflation.

The committee also voted to keep the asymmetric corridor at +100 and -700 basis points around the MPR, Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 32.5 per cent as well as the Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent.

Meanwhile, the senate and the house of representatives in separate resolutions on Tuesday asked the CBN to extend the time for acceptance of the old naira notes by six months.

All progressives Congress (APC) from Katsina State, Mr. Sada Soli who sponsored a motion of urgent public importance on the floor of the house argued that the banks and other financial institutions were struggling to cope with the rush to change their old currencies for new ones.

“Banks and 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 review of the cashless policy, the CBN has remained adamant on the given deadline,” he said.

Supporting the motion, another APC legislator from Borno State, Mr. Ahmed Jaha, said the CBN was making efforts in the state to swap the old notes with for ones but regretted that it would be impossible for his constituents to meet the deadline.

He said the activities of insurgent had paralysed the banking system in Borno

I want to use this opportunity to commend the CBN for taking certain steps to address this issue in my constituency. As I am talking to you, CBN staff have been in my constituency since yesterday.

“They went there with some amount to swap the little currency with people. It is a very good move but I also realised that the amount taken there is not enough to swap the available old currency.

“For the past 10 years, my constituency is (has been) operating without a single bank branch. People transact in cash,” Jaha said.

In his remarks, the speaker of the house, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila said the legislature would have to interface with the heads of commercial banks to understand the real situation on the ground.

He said both the CBN and the commercial banks were saying different things.

“We can all agree that it is a good policy. There is a need to review the policy. I think we need to add another prayer because on one hand—this is the crux of the matter, the banks are saying they don’t have the money, on the other hand, CBN is saying, no, you have the money.

“We need to amend and invite the bank managing directors the major ones to brief the leadership or a very small ad hoc committee. Let us find out the truth whether these new notes are available. Is it the banks or the CBN,” he said.

Consequently, the House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee chaired by the majority leader, Mr. Alhassan Doguwa, to hold a session with the bank executives today (Wednesday) before meeting with the CBN.

At the senate, the lawmakers also called for extension following the following the adoption of a motion moved by an APC senator from Kwara, Mr. Sodiq Umar.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker from Ekiti State, Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi who supported the motion stated that most Nigerians were yet to touch the new notes, adding that the timeline for the implementation of the policy is too short.

She urged the apex bank to look beyond the election and consider the impact of the policy.

In his contribution, APC legislator from Borno State, Mr. Ali Ndume said even as a politician, he was yet to have the new notes in his wallet and therefore supported the motion for extension. However, PDP lawmaker from Ebonyi State, Mr. Egwu contended that there was nothing on the ground to justify the call for an extension of time.

*With Premium Time report.

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