For the second time in one month, the National Assembly, in separate sessions by the Senate and House of Representatives, has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation beyond January 31 as it earlier proposed.
The apex bank had, on December 15, commenced circulating newly redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes and set January 31, 2023 as deadline for withdrawal of the old notes. However, following public outcry over the short duration of the deadline, the Senate, on December 28, 2022, had urged the CBN to extend the deadline to June 30, 2023, a resolution which has so far been disregarded by the apex bank. The Senate made the appeal following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume, representing Borno South Senatorial District on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Leading debate on the motion, Senator Ndume said that the timing of the policy was wrong, noting that since the beginning of the implementation of the cash withdrawal limit, the new notes were not in circulation even in cities, but more so in the villages. According to him: “First of all it is a general public opinion that the old notes must not be withdrawn from circulation by January end because it will pose a serious problem.
“Unfortunately, in total disregard to the resolution of the Upper Chamber last year, the nation’s bankers’ bank continued to warn Nigerians to ensure compliance to the January 31 deadline, insisting that it would not extend the period beyond the stipulated date.” In their separate contributions, the legislators also expressed dismay that the CBN had insisted on the January 31 deadline, despite persistent huge public outcry. However, Senator Sam Egwu, representing Ebonyi North Senatorial District on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), kicked against the motion, arguing that Nigerians were always opposed to innovative changes.
The lawmaker’s position on the matter notwithstanding, the Senate, went ahead to ask the CBN to extend the deadline by six months to allow Nigerians especially those in rural areas more time to change their old notes. In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, assured that the National Assembly leadership would ensure that the resolution was implemented by the CBN. On its part, the lower chamber (House of Representatives) also met yesterday and once again urged the apex bank to extend the exchange of old naira notes to new ones by at least six months.
It equally called for the review of the daily withdrawal limit and the charges and advised the apex bank to expedite action on making the redesigned N200, N500 and N1, 000 notes available to Nigerians. The lower chamber also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in the insistence of the CBN on the tight deadline for the implementation of the cashless policy and currency swap. Consequently, the House has summoned the CBN and other bank chief executive officers over the scarcity of the new naira notes. The committee headed by the House leader, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (APC, Kano) will meet with all the stakeholders tomorrow (Wednesday).
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These resolutions were consequent upon the adoption of a motion of urgent National importance sponsored by Hon. Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) at the plenary. Presenting the motion, Soli noted that pursuant to Section 2, paragraphs (a) and (d) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (Establishment) Act, 2007, the objects of the Central Bank of Nigeria shall be to ensure monetary and price stability, and promote a sound financial system in Nigeria, respectively. “Also notes that banks are places where people keep their money for safety and expect to withdraw it when needed. “Recalls that in December, 2022, the House of Representatives invited the CBN Governor to discuss the cashless policy and introduction of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1, 000 notes. “Also aware that for such a policy to be successful, it should not be overbearing on the people and the economy.
“Concerned that the financial institutions in Nigeria lack the infrastructure to handle a sudden increase in customer base as well as adequate employees to handle any challenges that could arise in the process of implementing the cashless policy within the limited time given by the CBN. “Also concerned that banks and POS outlets are struggling with 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.” The motion was unanimously adopted.