Despite pressure by various groups for the extension of the deadline of phasing out the old ₦1,000, ₦500, ₦200 notes, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has insisted that they would cease to be legal tender by 31st January.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele announced this after the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.
Many had expected the apex bank governor to shift the deadline to enable Nigerians in riverine areas, uplands and other remote areas who do not ordinarily have access to banking services in their immediate locations.
The bank had in October, launched the naira redesign policy and on 15th December 2022, released the new banknotes to replace the old ones.
Emefiele said the time given for the swap of the old naira notes with new ones was enough for Nigerians to go to commercial banks and get it done.
“For us, 100 days are enough for anybody who has the old currency to deposit the money in the banks. And we took every measure to ensure that all the banks are open and receive the old currencies. 100 days, we believe, are more than adequate. We do not see any reason to begin to talk about a shift because people could not deposit their old monies in the banks,” Emefiele stated.
The apex had on Friday launched the cash-swap programme to help people in rural and underserved communities across the country exchange their old currency notes with the new ones.
This initiative is to be executed by the CBN in collaboration with its super agents, and Deposit Money Banks nationwide.
“We have 1.4 million points of our super agents; those agents are going to be available to conduct cash exchanges. The super agents are like kiosks, shops in your community, whether it is a riverine or upland area, they are there, selling sweets, selling kola nuts but they have been appointed as agents that will do cash exchange and cash swap for you. This, we have put in place,” Emefiele said.
Nigerians have raised concerns over the poor circulation of the new naira notes, as most banks still dispense old ones through their Automated Teller Machine points.
Reacting to the CBN’s persistence on maintaining the deadline, the National Assembly on Tuesday asked the apex bank to shift the deadline by at least six months to enable Nigerians gradually discharge the old currency bills still in their possession.
Similar call was also made by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.