Nigerians in the diaspora have raised concerns about what to do with the old naira notes in their possession.
Colin Udoh, a Nigerian who according to his Twitter profile lives in the US and is a former press officer for the Super Eagles, I ask, “I have some old naira notes with me. So far, I have not seen or heard of any central bank plans for people in the diaspora with old naira notes to exchange their own. Am I missing something?”
In response to Mr. Udoh, Abike Dabira-Erewa, Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) I ask, “Do Nigerians in the diaspora keep or spend Naira notes abroad? Am I missing something?”
In response, Mr. Udoh explained that he always has naira notes for each time he returns to Nigeria.
“I always carry some naira with me in case I need to pay for things. And when you arrive, it’s a backup to pay for things like the tram, car rental, assistance, hotels, etc. in case the ATM fails,” Mr. Udoh wrote.
Corroborating Mr. Udoh, osarimenanother user whose profile suggests he lives in the US said it is an unspoken rule to keep notes in naira for anyone planning to return to Nigeria.
“I have a note from Naira here, trust me you don’t want to arrive in Nigeria without it. Those airport people will milk you. It is an unspoken rule, keep Naira’s notes if she intends to travel back to Nigeria,” she said.
Shola Olushola added that “most Nigerians keep Naira with us so that during a visit home there is some cash to spend for a day or two before visiting BDC. Therefore, it is not out of place if someone asks about the central bank’s plan towards the diasporas”.
In addition, Farooq Kperogi, a professor of journalism at Kennesaw State University in the US, said that he takes naira notes when he travels to Nigeria “so that when we have a chance to visit again we can have naira to spend at the airport in carts and to pay for taxis to our hotels or houses. I am now resigned to the fact that the naira I have here is worthless.”
Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2023 it unveiled new banknotes of the three highest denominations of Nigerian currency: N200, N500 and N1,000.
The banking regulator initially set a January 31 deadline for the use of old notes, but extended it to February 10 after public protests.
Onofiok Kings, an Abuja-based financial expert, said the rules need to be implemented across the board.
“Normally, we don’t expect Nigerians to keep as much Naira abroad as they should have exchanged for the universal currency which is the US dollar,” he said.
However, since the deadline has been changed, NIDCOM should be asked to negotiate or contact the central bank to give a timeline or deadline for Nigerians in diaspora to be able to change their Naira to the newly designed notes or any coin of your choice.
“I think it is an issue worth considering. It is possible that a considerable amount of money is with these people,” Tope Fasua, an economist, said of concerns raised by Diasporas.
He informed that a policy statement can be made so that those people after the new deadline approach their banks with such old coins when they are in the country.
“It is a fact that such policies should have some elements of surprise. It is also a fact that in a country like Nigeria, politics targets criminals: kidnappers, drug dealers, corrupt politicians and officials, money launderers, etc.,” Mr. Fasua said.
Diasporans are certainly not the target, he added, so it should be possible to have a provision for them.
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