By Sharon Osaji
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, as they will cease to be legal tender in the country.
The CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele reiterated the apex bank’s stance after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.
Emefiele also insisted that enough time had been given to Nigerians to swap their old naira notes for new ones.
This is as he also said that kidnapping and ransom-taking had reduced since the three banknotes were redesigned.
Many Nigerians have however lamented the unavailability and scarcity of the new notes, decrying that banks up till today, were 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 its circulation.
However, despite the efforts of the apex bank, bank customers have continued to lament the scarcity of the new notes
In a related development, The PUNCH reported that the House of Representatives, on Tuesday, summoned commercial banks over the scarcity of new naira notes.
The Managing Directors/Chief Executive Officers of the banks, under the auspices of the Bankers’ Committee, are to meet with an ad hoc committee of the House to be chaired by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, on Wednesday (tomorrow).
The meeting is for the banks to explain the alleged supply shortage from the Central Bank of Nigeria, after which the lawmakers would invite the leadership of the apex bank for questioning.
The House further resolved that the window for swapping the old notes with the new ones be extended by six months.
Meanwhile, the Senate on Tuesday similarly appealed to the apex bank to extend the deadline by six months as well, from January 31 to July 31, 2023.
The CBN on October 26, 2022 had announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes. The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), subsequently unveiled the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes on November 23, 2022, while the apex bank fixed January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.