HomeBusinessNo going back on Naira redesign project, CBN insists on 31st January...

No going back on Naira redesign project, CBN insists on 31st January deadline

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On Saturday, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated his earlier position that there would be no going back on the naira redesign project and ruled out extending the January 31 deadline for the old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes to cease being legal tender.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, which insisted on not extending the deadline, backed up the President’s position.

This comes as stakeholders such as the 36 state governors, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Arewa Consultative Forum, and bank customers call for a review of the policy and an extension of the deadline.

Buhari stated that the currency redesign was not intended to target innocent citizens, but rather corrupt officials and terrorist financiers who are hoarding illicit funds.

He also assured Nigerians that the government would ensure that disruptions to the entire supply chain caused by the currency redesign would not harm them or their businesses.

Garba Shehu, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said in a statement on Saturday that Buhari was reacting to reports of long lines of people waiting for hours for their turn to deposit old notes and receive new ones.

‘Government will eliminate squeeze, chaos in currency swap, President Buhari assures,’ read the statement.

Buhari reiterated that the currency change was intended to target people hoarding illicit funds rather than the general public.

He stated that the changes were required to prevent counterfeiting, corruption, and terrorist financing, as well as to stabilize and strengthen the economy.

“While taking note that the poorest section of society is facing hardship as they frequently keep hard cash at home for various expenses, President Buhari gave strong assurances that the government would not leave them to their own fate,” the statement read in part.

“He reiterated that the central bank and all commercial banks are undertaking a number of initiatives to accelerate the distribution of the new notes and do everything possible to avoid cash squeeze and chaos.”

The President’s explanation could have been in response to the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, who claimed last Wednesday that the currency change and the lingering fuel scarcity were part of a plot to sabotage the February election and prevent his victory.

Similarly, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) insisted on Saturday that the January 31 deadline for the validity of old naira notes remained unchanged.

Refusing to bow to pressure to extend the deadline, the apex bank insisted, via its verified Twitter handle, that the deadline was sacred.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) re-posted a video of CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele from the recently concluded Monetary Policy Committee meeting, saying, “The deadline for the return of old series of 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes remains January 31, 2023.”

“Unfortunately, I don’t have good news for those who feel we should shift the deadline; my apologies,” Emefiele said following the MPC meeting.

“The reason is because, just like the President has said on more than two occasions and even to some people privately, 100 days is more than enough for anybody who has the old currency to deposit it in the banks. And we took every precaution to ensure that all banks were and continue to accept deposits.”

The CBN, echoing the President’s position, stated that the redesigned notes would address the issue of insecurity, particularly kidnapping in the North-West.

The apex bank’s Director of Development Finance, Philip Yila, who was represented by Aliyu Ashiru in Gombe State, explained that the policy would ensure system sanity.

Before exchanging old notes for residents, the CBN team paid visits to the traditional rulers of Lamido Akko in the state’s Akko Local Government Area, Umar Atiku; Mai Banganje; and the District Head of Tanglan in the Billiri Local Government Area.

“One of the advantages of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s redesigned notes is that they ensure integrity. We realized that there had been challenges in our cash management over time; a lot of insecurity challenges border on people who hold money, people who kidnap and seek ransom from the people; enforcing the cashless policy will make it difficult for kidnappers to seek ransom, especially in the North-West,” Yila explained.

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