Nigeria: NASS Asks CBN to Extend the Deadline On Old Naira Notes By Six Months

24 January 2023

The CBN on Tuesday insisted that the deadline on old notes remained 31 January.

The two chambers of the National Assembly have asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for acceptance of the old Naira notes.

The House of Representatives and the Senate in separate resolutions on Tuesday asked the CBN to extend the deadline till 31 July.

House of Representatives

The decision of the House to ask for the extension followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) during plenary.

Moving the motion, Mr Soli said banking and other financial institutions are struggling to cope with the rush by citizens to change their old currencies to new notes. He said the shortage of new notes is creating panic.

"Banks and POS outlets are struggling with the shortage of the redesigned new Naira notes ahead of the CBN deadline of January 31, 2023, consequently making it difficult for them to comply with the CBN directives as regards availability of the new notes for customers.

"Despite several concerns and appeals by the National Assembly, the Governors Forum, the Bank Customers Association of Nigeria, and a host of other stakeholders in the country for the CBN to extend the period for the currency swap of the new Naira notes as well as review of the cashless policy, the CBN has remained adamant on the given deadline," he said.

He stated that the CBN should instead phase out the old currency within a longer period, like a year adding that the policy must get the buy-in of the people for it to work.

He informed his colleagues that traders in Katsina State have started rejecting the old notes.

Speaking in support of the motion, Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno), said the CBN has been making efforts in Borno State to swap the old notes for new ones, however, the efforts are not enough to meet the deadline.

He stated that the activities of Boko Haram insurgents have shut down banking operations in most parts of Borno State.

"I just came back from my constituency yesterday, I want to use this opportunity to commend the CBN for taking certain steps to address this issue in my constituency. As I am talking to you, CBN staff have been in my constituency since yesterday. They went there with some amount to swap the little currency with people. It is a very good move but I also realised that the amount taken there is not enough to swap the available old currency.

"For the past 10 years, my constituency is (has been) operating without a single bank branch. People transact in cash," Mr Jaha said.

In his intervention, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the House needs to interface with the heads of commercial banks to understand the real situation on the ground.

"We can all agree that it is a good policy. There is a need to review the policy. I think we need to add another prayer because on one hand--this is the crux of the matter, the banks are saying they don't have the money, on the other hand, CBN is saying, no, you have the money.

"We need to amend and invite the bank MDs, the major ones to brief the leadership or a very small ad hoc committee. Let us find out the truth whether these new notes are available. Is it the banks or the CBN," he said.

Consequently, the House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee chaired by Alhassan Doguwa (APC, Kano), the majority leader, to interface with the banks on Wednesday and subsequently meet with the CBN.

Senate

The upper chamber has also called for the extension of the deadline following the adoption of a motion moved by Sodiq Umar (APC, Kwara), who argued that the policy is affecting the people negatively.

Speaking in support of the motion, Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti), stated that most Nigerians have never gotten the opportunity to touch the new notes, adding that the timeline for the implementation of the policy is too short.

She said the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, must look beyond the election and consider the impact of the policy.

Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi) was the only member that opposed the motion, noting that there was nothing on the ground to justify the call for an extension of time. He said the reason given by the CBN Governor is genuine enough.

While the lawmakers were deliberating on the motion, the CBN Governor announced that the bank will not go back on the decision.

Mr Emefiele made the announcement on Tuesday after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja.

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