By Uche Amunike
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an extra ten-day extension amidst the rising apprehension of Nigerians over the scarcity of the new naira notes, few days to the previous January 31st deadline given, which has made the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN extend the old naira notes deadline to February 10, 2023.
Speaking, to Newsmen, in Daura, Katsina State, Sunday morning , after a meeting with Buhari in his hometown where he went to attend to some official matters, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, confirmed that he got the approval of President Buhari before he extended the deadline. He further urged Nigerians who had not changed their old notes to the new ones, to endeavor to do so, within the extra ten days period of grace given to all Nigerians concerned.
He made it clear that the deadline would not be extended again, if they failed to make use of the ten days given to have their monies changed to the new notes.
Recall that in October 2022, the apex bank introduced the newly designed 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes to Nigerians, after which they gave a deadline of 31st January for the old notes to be offered as legal tender. The scarcity of the new notes, however, gave rise to the demand presented to President Muhammadu for an extension, which in turn, made the CBN extend old naira notes deadline to February 10, even though he did not give details about what the bank was doing to resolve the problem of scarcity of the new bills.
According to the announcement made by the CBN, when they decided to redesign the notes, they stated that members of the public were hoarding banknotes and that statistics had shown that over 85% of the money in circulation were not in the vaults of the commercial banks. He has however admitted that the currency had yielded considerable results.
Hear him: ‘Available data at the bank showed that in 2015, currency-in-circulation was only N1.4 trillion. As of October 2022, currency in circulation had risen to N3.2 trillion; out of which only N500 billion was within the banking industry and N2.7 trillion held permanently in people’s homes’, he stated.
He further said that since the program kicked off, the exercise had recorded a success rate that is above 75% of the N2.7 trillion held outside the bank vaults. The apex bank already collected close to N1.9 trillion, leaving them with close to N900 billion. (N500BN +N1.9 trillion).
Emefiele averred that the aged and vulnerable Nigerians in the rural areas and villages had already swapped their old notes, thanks to the Agent Naira Swap Initiative and the CBN Senior Staff sensitization team exercise which was held nationwide. He assured that all Nigerians who possess legitimately earned Naira should make use of the opportunity as CBN extends old naira notes deadline, to deposit their money at the bank for exchange. The reverse, he however said, is the case for those holding illicit and stolen money in their homes for speculative intents.