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Mixed reactions as CBN extends naira deadline to Feb. 17

Mixed reactions have trailed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) extension of the deadline for the swap of old naira notes in commercial banks till…

Mixed reactions have trailed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) extension of the deadline for the swap of old naira notes in commercial banks till February 10.

The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, made the announcement in Daura yesterday, adding that Nigerians will still be able to deposit their old notes directly with the CBN until February 17, 2023 which he described as “grace period”.

This entails that after February 17, the old notes will cease to be legal tender.

The CBN who had previously insisted that it would not extend the deadline however noted that as a result of measures put in place to ease the scarcity, President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval for the extension of the deadline.

“Based on the foregoing, we have sought and obtained Mr President’s approval for the following: a 10-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023, to February 10, 2023, to allow for the collection of more old notes legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more success in cash swap in our rural communities, after which all old notes outside the CBN lose their legal tender status.

“Our CBN staff currently on mass mobilisation and monitoring, together with officials of the EFCC and ICPC, will work together to achieve these objectives.

“A 7-day grace period, beginning on February 10 to February 17, 2023, in compliance with sections 20(3) and 22 of the CBN Act, allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline when the old currency would have lost its Legal Tender status” has been approved, he said.

The CBN governor revealed that N1.9 trillion worth of naira notes have been returned to banks so far with N500 billion still outside the banking vaults.

Emefiele said: “Available data at the Central Bank of Nigeria has shown that in 2015, currency in­ circulation was only N1.4 trillion. As at October 2022, currency in circulation had risen to N3.23 trillion; out of which only N500 billion was within the banking industry and N2.7 trillion was held permanently in people’s homes.

“So far and since the commencement of this programme, we have collected about N1.9 trillion; leaving us with about N900 billion (N500b – N1.9 trillion).”

He said to achieve effective distribution of the new currency, the CBN took concerted efforts in that regard.

“We are happy that so far, the exercise has achieved a success rate of over 75 per cent of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system.

“Aside from those holding illicit/stolen naira in their homes for speculative purposes, we do aim to give all Nigerians that have naira legitimately earned and trapped, the opportunity to deposit their legitimately trapped monies at the CBN for exchange.”

Reps reject extension, Vows to sign arrest warrant against Emefiele 

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 Adhoc Committee, chaired by the leader of the House,  Alhassan Ado Doguwa in a statement insisted that the CBN must comply with sections 20 sub 3, 4, and 5  of the CBN Act.

Recall the House, during its sitting on Tuesday, following the outcry by Nigerians, constituted the ad hoc committee to look into the issue.

Doguwa in a statement said, “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. 

He 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.

Mixed reactions trail extension by Experts, traders

Meanwhile, a finance expert and president, Association of Capital Markets Academics of Nigeria (ACMAN), Prof. Uche Uwaleke, while commenting, said the extension of the deadline for notes swap by the CBN till February 10, 2023 with an additional seven-day grace period is a welcome development and portrays the CBN as a responsive organisation that is sensitive to the yearnings of Nigerians.

He noted that when the CBN first placed a cash withdrawal limit of N20,000 per individual per day, it saw the need to revise it upward to N100,000 following reports that the limit was too low and causing a lot of hardship to the people.

Speaking further, Uwaleke said, “The 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 to be returned to the CBN given that about N900 billion is still outside the banks as revealed by the CBN governor.

However, the Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr Muda Yusuf said: “I  believe that 10 days is grossly inadequate to make up for the glaring shortcomings of the apex bank in this process.

The centre had earlier expressed concern that the failure to extend the deadline for the currency swap could put a N100 trillion component of the national GDP at risk.”

Soon after the CBN governor announced the extension, business activities began to pick up in Jos, following the initial closedown of business centres due to the scarcity of the new naira notes.

While some are saying the extension was a welcome development, some are of the view that February 10 was not enough, calling on the FG to give more time.

Despite the extension,  residents still came out in large numbers for the collection of the new naira notes in Kwara State.

When our correspondent visited many of the banks on Sunday, long queues were observed at their ATMs. Some of the places were also observed to be rowdy. 

Although many of the banks opened on Sunday, most of them closed around 2:00 pm while money in some ATMs was exhausted around 3:00 pm.

Mrs Yemisi, at the Fidelity Bank branch in Taiwo, said she came to the bank after church service but has been frustrated with the situation she made on the ground despite the extension.

By Sunday M. Ogwu, Philip S. Clement, Itodo D. Sule (Abuja), Ado A. Musa (Jos), Mumini Abdulkareem  (Ilorin)