Despite mounting concerns among Nigerians over the scarcity of the new Naira notes in parts of the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria has insisted that there is no going back on the January 31 deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1,000 naira notes.
The CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele made this position known while addressing a press conference after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.
Emefiele said the apex bank has given enough time for the swapping of old Naira notes to new Naira notes, adding that on January 31, the old ones will cease to be legal tender in the country.
This is as he also said that kidnapping and ransom-taking had reduced since the three banknotes were redesigned.
The CBN governor 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.”
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 was 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 New Diplomat reports that this is coming as many Nigerians have been lamenting that banks are still giving out the old naira notes to customers with the deadline only a few days away.
Meanwhile, the CBN in its efforts to ensure that everyone is carried along embarked on a cash swap programme nationwide to enable those in the unbanked areas to exchange their old notes before the January 31 deadline, however, excluding Lagos and Abuja mobile money/Point of Sales operators from the programme.
The CBN also recently ordered commercial banks to immediately stop over-the-counter withdrawal of the new notes and load their Automated Teller Machines with the redesigned naira notes to boost circulation.