By Uche Amunike
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has just updated the Buhari-led government on the implementation status of the CBN currency redesign program, presently being held nationwide.
Speaking, through a press statement signed and released by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, he expressed his gratitude to President Buhari for approving of the currency redesign program, as according to him, it was the first to be held in Nigeria in the last 19 years, adding that it was only an incorruptible leader like Buhari that could take that plunge.
Hear him: ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, from the on-set of this currency redesign program, we made it clear that for 19 years, the CBN hasn’t been able to conduct this important aspect of its mandate, whereas this should normally have been done within a 5-8 years window.’
In the statement which was titled ‘PROGRESS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW REDESIGNED CURRENCY BY THE CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA’, the CBN Governor explained that one of the aims of the CBN in making their monetary policy decisions effective was achieved, because, not only did exchange rates become relatively stable, inflation was clearly seen trending downwards.
On the issue of banditry and ransom collection in the country, he stated that the bank planned giving their support to the security agencies, through the program, pointing out that the Nigerian Military was already doing a good job in that respect.
He reported that the available data at the CBN showed that Currency-in-Circulation was only N1.4 trillion in 2015. By October 2022, it rose to N3.23 trillion, out of which the only amount within the Banking industry was just N500 billion. The outstanding N2.7 trillion was trapped permanently in people’s homes. Presently, he said, the CBN has collected about N1.9 trillion, leaving them with about N900 billion ( N500 billion + N1.9 trillion.
The bank, he said, has however taken sure steps to ensure effective distribution of the new currency. They include embarking on a national sensitization program through the print and electronic media to enlighten Nigerians about the new notes, while also liaising with the National Orientation Agency to keep Nigerians in the know, across various media channels.
They also held series of meetings with their Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), while providing them with guidance notes on how to collect old notes and distribute the new ones nationwide. Specific instructions were given to them to load new notes into their ATM machines, in order to ensure that the distribution of the new notes would be done equitably to every Nigerian.
About 30,000 Super Agents were deployed nationwide in the bank’s Cash Swap Initiative in the hinterlands and rural areas, especially in places where there were no banks, which made it possible for the vulnerable ones among them so they’re able to swap their old notes.
He further stated that every staff member, particularly the Assistant Directors, Deputy Directors and Directors in Abuja joined CBN branches Nationwide for the mass mobilization campaign and monitoring programs, working with the Deposit Money Banks, agents and their Branch controllers across the 36 states of the Federation, so as to ensure compliance with all guidelines already issued for smooth implementation of the program. Reports of breaches by some bank branches, however made the apex bank reach a compromise with Executive Chairmen of the EFCC and ICPC to assist them , by sending their staff to all CBN and DMB branches nationwide to join in monitoring the implementation of these guidelines, with the intent of ensuring compliance with the laid down guidelines.
He also stated that all the aforementioned motivated the CBN to seek and obtain President Buhari’s approval for a 10-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023 to February 10, 2023 to enable them collect legitimately held notes by Nigerians.
His words: ‘A 10-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023, to February 10, 2023; to allow for collection of more old notes legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more success in cash swap in our rural communities after which all old notes outside the CBN losses their Legal tender Status. Our CBN staff currently on mass mobilization and monitoring together with officials of the EFCC and ICPC will work together to achieve these objectives.’
‘A 7-day grace period, beginning on February 10 to February 17,2023, in compliance with Sections 20(3) and 22 of the CBN Act allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline when the old currency would have lost its Legal Tender status’.
He called on all Nigerians to cooperate with the CBN for the common goal of seeing to a hitch free process for successfully implementing this important program.