The Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure that the naira redesign policy is adjusted to accommodate the interest of millions of informal sector players, rural dwellers, the over 30 million unbanked Nigerians and several non-literate others.
The Centre noted with concern that the informal sector players, the illiterate and the unbanked who are Nigerians entitled to fair consideration in the implementation process, have been shortchanged.
The CPPE, in a statement signed by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Muda Yusuf, urged the CBN to allow Nigerians to deposit their old currency notes being phased out in the ongoing implementation of the naira redesign policy.
The CBN which insisted on maintaining the February 10 deadline for use of old currency notes had instructed commercial banks to stop accepting deposits of old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes and asked Nigerians still in possession of old notes to take them to CBN branches nationwide.
This led to the unprecedented crowd witnessed at CBN offices, especially in Lagos, making it apparently impossible for the apex bank to manage the exercise.
Given the development, it was said by a source who was at a meeting of Chief Executive Officers of banks on Friday, 17th February, that the CBN has granted commercial banks permission to receive deposits of old notes up to maximum of N500,000. This is after the customer would have registered with the CBN through a dedicated portal to generate a code to deposit the old notes in banks.
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The CPPE stated that the manner in which the naira redesign policy is being implemented has caused a lot of pain to many innocent Nigerians seeking to return their old notes and access to new ones which are scarce.
He said only CBN cannot handle the process.
“Amid the chaos which the badly implemented policy has created, it is evidently impractical for the CBN offices to properly handle this process of receiving old currency notes which are still in abundance in the hands of millions of Nigerians.
“There is only one branch of the CBN office in each state of the federation and the FCT. It is practically impossible for the CBN to manage this process without subjecting our citizens to another round of harrowing experiences.
“The experience and images and disorderliness of the past few days at the CBN offices graphically illustrate this position,” the statement said.
The centre noted that the current requirement of filling a form in an online portal does not augur well with many Nigerians who are illiterate and do not have access to the Internet.
“The process should also be simplified to accommodate millions of rural dwellers, the informal sector players, the over 30 million unbanked Nigerians and several million that are not literate.
“The current guidelines which require filling of forms on the CBN portals, generating codes etc. does not reckon with millions of Nigerians that seek to return their old notes who are not literate, who don’t have access to internets and who are in very remote locations in various parts of the country. They are Nigerians and are entitled to fair consideration in the implementation process.
“Most of them are women, microenterprises and small businesses contributing immensely to employment, poverty reduction and social stability at the bottom of the economic pyramid of our country. It is bad enough that their lives and livelihoods have been terribly disrupted and disoriented,” CPPE lamented.
The centre appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN to review the naira reissue implementation processes in “the interest of fairness, justice and social inclusion.”