Fearing any untoward occurrence occasioned by its hard stance, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has bowed to pressure by extending the deadline for the swapping of old 200, 500 and 1, 000 naira notes with the redesigned ones from January 31 to February 10, 2023.
The CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele announced the shift in the deadline while speaking with journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
He said the “10-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023, to February 10, 2023, is to allow for the collection of more old notes.”
He said he had the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for the extension.
“We have sought and obtained Mr. President’s approval for the following: a 10-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023, to February 10, 2023; to allow for collection of more old notes legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more success in cash swap in our rural communities after which all old notes outside the CBN loses their Legal Tender Status.
“Our CBN staff currently on mass mobilisation and monitoring together with officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission will work together to achieve these objectives.
“A seven-day grace period, beginning from February 10 to February 17, 2023, in compliance with Sections 20(3) and 22 of the CBN Act, allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline when the old currency would have lost its legal tender status,” he said.
He also noted that Nigerians would still be able to deposit their old notes directly with the CBN until February 17, 2023, described as “grace period.”
Emefiele also sought the cooperation of all Nigerians in the implementation of the policy.
Emefiele assured that the naira had yielded significant results.
“Available data at the bank showed that in 2015, currency-in-circulation was only N1.4 trillion. As of October 2022, currency in circulation had risen to N3.23 trillion out of which only N500 billion was within the banking industry and N2.7 trillion held permanently in people’s homes,” he said.
He said since the commencement of the programme, the CBN collected about N1.9 trillion, “leaving us with about N900 billion (N500b + N1.9trillion).
“We are happy that so far, the exercise has achieved a success rate of over 75 per cent of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system.
According to him, Nigerians in the rural areas, villages, the aged and the vulnerable have had the opportunity to swap their old notes, leveraging the Agent Naira Swap initiative as well as the CBN Senior staff nationwide sensitisation team exercise.
“Aside from those holding illicit, stolen Naira in their homes for speculative purposes, we do aim to give all Nigerians that have naira legitimately earned and trapped the opportunity to deposit their legitimately trapped monies at the CBN for exchange,” Emefiele added.