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N1trn old notes returned to banking system – Emefiele

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, says about N1 trillion of the old notes has been returned to the banking system…

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, says about N1 trillion of the old notes has been returned to the banking system since the introduction of new naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He spoke on the matter while fielding questions from State House reporters after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on happenings in the CBN and the Nigerian economy in Daura, Katsina State.

Emefiele said a lot of electronic channels had been put in place in 10 years since the cashless policy was launched in 2012 to aid people in conducting banking and financial service transactions in Nigeria.

He said the cashless policy was stepped down on a number of occasions to fully prepare for the implementation of the policy and deepen payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.

“I can only just assure you that it will go round, let us just be calm. Luckily the old currency continued to be legal tender till January 31, 2023. So, I want to crack a joke, both the painted (new notes) and unpainted (old notes) will operate concurrently as a legal tender. But by January 31, the unpainted one will not be useful to you again, so please take it to your bank as quickly as possible,” he added.

Emefiele said “about N1 trillion” of the old notes had been returned to the banking system.

On what the CBN would do about the policy after the Senate kicked against the withdrawal limit, he said: “The Senate of the Federal Republic is National Assembly. They are the legislative arm of the government and from time to time, we brief them about what is happening and about our policies and I am aware that they have asked for some briefings and we will brief them….

“We heard people talking about some of the people in the rural areas and the truth is that even online banking, as I was coming out to Daura, I saw a kiosk that has a super agent today. It is because of the way we felt that there was a need for us to deepen the payment system infrastructure. We have 1.4 million super agents that are all over different parts of the country, all local governments, and all villages in this country.

“And I have told my colleagues, some of their names are already on the CBN website and we will publish all the names of all the super agents. We have super agents which are different from banks, microfinance banks, and other financial institutions.

“Having 1.4 million of them is as good as having 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct services. And we think, Nigeria is a big country, the biggest economy in Africa that we need to leapfrog into the cashless economy. We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 per cent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitization have gone into cashless.

“And I said it at different fora that this is not targeted at anybody, it is just meant for the good and development of the Nigerian economy and we can only continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it. We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because I cannot say that we are going to be rigid. But it is not to say that we will reverse, it is not to say that we will change the timing, but whether it is about tricking some amount to be a little bit higher or a little bit lower, and all the rest of them.

“We will do so because we are humans, we want to make sure that we are make life good for our people. We do not want to make life difficult for them. So, there is no need for anybody to worry, the central bank is monitoring what is happening and I can assure everyone that we are up and alive to our responsibilities and we will do what is right for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

When asked to speak on the President’s response to his briefing, Emefiele said: “He was very very happy and said we should carry on our work, no need to fear, no need to bother about anybody.”