Twenty-one days before the deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for stopping circulation of the old Naira notes, there are doubts that the main bank will not be able to meet the January 31st target.
This is more because some Nigerians have expressed concern and disappointment at the scarcity of the new naira notes and the main bank’s handling of the process.
Remember that the CBN announced in October last year that it planned to redesign, produce and distribute new series of N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes. The three notes represent the highest denomination of Nigeria’s eight legal tender coins.
Following the launch of the new designs on November 23, 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari, the new banknotes circulated from December 15, 2022, with both new and existing banknotes considered legal tender until December 31, 2022. January 2023.
DAILY POST conducted investigations at multiple bank branches and ATM galleries in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja between Monday and Friday of last week to determine whether the CBN directive had been complied with.
Our correspondent visited various bank branches in Maitama, Utako, Kubwa, Wuse and the Central Business District.
The findings showed that most of them were still handing out old bills to their customers. In addition, over-the-counter customers were given old bills.
At the Access Bank branch in the Utako district of Abuja, our correspondent using the ATM reported that old notes of N500 and N1000 denominations were being issued to customers. The same was reported in other locations visited by our correspondents.
Also, some of the PoS operators doing business within Kubwa, FCT Bwari Area Council said they had no new notes to give out to their customers, adding that on a N100,000 bond they obtained from the bank , N1 only, 000 new banknotes were issued to them.
Amid concerns about the shortage of the new notes, CBN had insisted that January 31, 2023 remains the deadline for phasing out the old coins from circulation.
DAILY POST gathered that the main bank recently issued a directive to banks on Wednesday and ordered implementation to start immediately.
However, until last weekend, the banks had not complied with the lead bank’s directive as they complained about the inadequate supply of the new notes, leading them to load their ATMs with the old notes.
Although the CBN maintained that the current series of N200, N500 and N1,000 notes would remain legal tender until the January 31 deadline, it nevertheless advised Nigerians to ensure they deposit all old N200 notes. , N500 and N1,000 in his possession. before the deadline.
He further noted that there would be no extension for the use of old banknotes beyond the indicated date.
“The current series of N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes would remain legal tender until the deadline of January 31, 2023,” CBN wrote on its Facebook page over the weekend.
Reacting to the development, a Nigerian economist and CEO of the Center for the Promotion of Private Enterprises, CPPE, Muda Yusuf, said that the CBN had vastly underestimated what is needed to make the coins available across the country.
Yusuf spoke Monday when he appeared on Arise Television’s morning show.
He said the January 31 deadline set by the main bank is unrealistic.
He said: “CBN should be much more sensitive to developments in the environment. Obviously, from what we can see, the evidence abounds everywhere; We are facing a problem of capacity on the part of CBN, capacity in terms of the production of new banknotes and capacity in terms of logistics.
“Obviously, the CBN has vastly underestimated what it takes to make these coins available across the country. If we get these kinds of comments and stories from cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Kano, what are we going to say about people in the farthest reaches of other states outside of these major cities?
“As I speak to you, I haven’t seen the new bills other than what I see on the screen and things like that. However, we practically only have about three weeks left until the deadline. This is clearly unrealistic, and I wonder if CBN sometimes behaves as if it’s on a different planet from ours. This is obviously unrealistic; You see, the deadline is unrealistic. Frankly, I don’t understand what the rush is about. I don’t know what they want to achieve.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Human Rights Writers Association, HURIWA, has consulted CBN about the shortage of the new naira notes a few weeks before the deadline.
HURIWA, in a statement, also urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to go after currency peddlers and influential personalities who have taken the very few new banknotes that the main bank launched recently.
“About three weeks after CBN launched the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes, millions of Nigerians, including those in cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and elsewhere, have yet to see or touched the ticket new naira banknotes The situation is particularly worse in remote places and towns.
“While black merchants, politicians and expats continue to have access to the crispy naira notes, yet millions of ordinary Nigerian bank depositors are denied access to the new notes despite the January 31 deadline approaching 2023,” he said in a statement.
Speaking to the DAILY POST about the development, a financial expert, Dr. Anayochukwu Basil Chukwu of Alex Ekwueme Ndufu-Alike Federal University, Ebonyi State, said the CBN was not ready for the political directions they had set out to achieve.
The financial expert noted that many Nigerians, especially those living in rural areas, were out of the banking sector, adding that it would be difficult for them to cope with the new policy.
He said: “The CBN is not prepared to do what is necessary. Their body language and the direction of their policies have not been in favor of what they want to achieve.
“Actually, they want to make sure the economy is on a very good footing, but as it stands, it’s like they’re not ready for the policy directions they’ve set themselves.
“I think there is a need for them to change the deadline because as it stands most people, even those in urban areas, have not yet accessed the new naira notes, let alone those in the villages. .
“This policy, if not changed or reversed, will cause a lot of hardship, especially for those who are not in the bankable communities because a lot of people are outside of the banking sector.
“More than 30 million Nigerians, if I’m not mistaken, are out of the banking sector, and if they don’t have bank accounts and all that stuff, I wonder how they will cope with the new political direction.
“The central bank should, by virtue of the situation in the country, change that term to make it more realistic.”