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N1.9trn back in banks as CBN extends old notes deadline

Currency in circulation hit N2.5tr May 2023 – report

•Reps reject extension, insist Emefiele must appear before it

The Central Bank of Nigeria has secured President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval to extend deadline for exchange of old naira notes by 10 days.

This is to allow for collection of more old notes legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more successes in cash swap in rural communities; while availing CBN staff, officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices & Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC),  currently on mass mobilisation and monitoring to achieve the naira redesign objectives.

In a press statement issued on Sunday, Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor, said the new deadline is February 10, 2023, adding that N1.9 trillion out of N2.7 trillion that was outside the banking system had been channeled back to banks vaults.

“Although we have received some reports of breaches in some bank branches, we have agreed with Executive Chairmen of the EFCC and ICPC to assist us by sending their staff to all CBN and DMB branches nationwide to join in monitoring the implementation of these guidelines. The aim is to ensure compliance with laid down guidelines.

“We are happy that so far, the exercise has achieved a success rate of over 75 percent of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system. We have collected about N1.9 trillion, leaving us with about N900 billion (N500b+ N1.9 trillion).

“Nigerians in the rural areas, villages, the aged and vulnerable have had the opportunity to swap their old notes; leveraging the Agent Naira Swap initiative as well as the CBN Senior staff nationwide sensitization team exercise”, he revealed.

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Emefiele noted that the CBN has not been able to conduct a currency redesign programme for 19 years, a development that should normally have been done within a five-eight years window.

To achieve effective distribution of the new currency, the CBN Governor said several strategic steps have been taken, including meeting Deposit Money Banks (DMBS) and providing them with Guidance Notes on processes they must adopt in the collection of old notes and distribution of the New Notes to all Nigerians. 

“These include: specific directives to DMBS to load new notes into their ATMs nationwide to ensure an equitable/ transparent mechanism for the distribution of the new notes to all Nigerians.

“We commenced a nationwide sensitization through the print and electronic media to create an awareness on the redesigned notes  to Nigerians including collaboration with the National Orientation agency to reach all Nigerians across multiple channels; we deployed 30,000 Super Agents nationwide to assist in our Cash Swap initiative in the hinterlands, rural areas, and regions underserved by banks in the Country to ensure that the weak and vulnerable ones amongst us can swap/ exchange their old notes.

“We deployed all our staff, particularly the Assistant Directors, Deputy Directors and Directors in Abuja to proceed to all CBN branches Nationwide to join the mass mobilization campaign and monitoring programmes, working with the Deposit Money Banks, agents and our Branch controllers across the 36 states of the Federation”, he explained.

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In separate reactions, experts have hailed the naira notes swap extension, describing the apex bank as a responsive organisation that is sensitive to the yearnings of Nigerians.

For instance, Nigeria’s first Professor of Capital Markets, Uche Uwaleke, told Daily Sun, that when the CBN first placed a cash withdrawal limit of N20,000 per individual per day, it saw the need to review it upward to N100,000 following reports that the limit was too low and causing a lot of hardship to the people.

“This deadline extension will reduce the queues at the ATM, reduce panic and uncertainty among small business owners in particular and more importantly, allow more time for the new naira notes to circulate and more of the old ones returned to the CBN given that about N900 billion is still outside the banks as revealed by the CBN Governor.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on new naira re-design and naira swap policy has rejected the 10 days extension granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the exchange of old naira notes. The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele on Sunday, said President Muhammadu Buhari gave permission for the deadline to be extended to February 10.

In its swift reaction, the Adhoc Committee, chaired by the leader of the House, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, rejected the extension by the Governor, insisting that the CBN must comply with Sections 20 sub 3, 4, and 5  of the CBN Act. Doguwa said that; “ The 10-day extension for the exchange of the old naira notes is not the solution: We as a legislative committee with a constitutional mandate of the house, would only accept clear compliance with section 20 sub 3, 4, and 5  of the CBN act and nothing more. 

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“Nigeria as a developing economy and a nascent democracy must respect the principle of the rule of law. And the House would go ahead to sign arrest warrant to compel the CBN Governor to appear before the Adhoc committee.” 

He said under his chairmanship, the committee would continue its work until it gets the demands of Nigerians addressed in accordance with the laws of the land. 

Describing the extension as a mere political gimmick to further deceive Nigerians and worsen their economic and social livelihood, Doguwa said the CBN governor must appear before or stand the risk of being arrested on the strength of legislative writs signed by Hon. Speaker on Monday. 

He also said the policy is  capable of frustrating the forthcoming general elections.

“Security agencies and their operations especially at the states level are generally funded through cash advances and direct table payments of allowances to operatives during elections,” he said.

Sunnews

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