Both chambers of the National Assembly have requested it Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend deadline for acceptance of old Naira notes.
The House of Representatives and the Senate in separate resolutions on Tuesday asked the CBN to extend the deadline to July 31.
House of Representatives
The House’s decision to seek an extension followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) at the plenary session.
Moving the motion, Mr. Soli said banks and other financial institutions are struggling to cope with the rush of citizens to exchange old currency for new notes. He said that the shortage of new notes is creating panic.
“Banks and POS outlets are grappling with the scarcity of newly redone Naira ahead of the CBN deadline of January 31, 2023, making it difficult for them to meet CBN directives on the availability of the new notes to customers.
“Despite various concerns and appeals by the National Assembly, Governors’ Forum, Bank Customers Association of Nigeria and various other stakeholders in the country, the CBN to extend the deadline for currency exchange of the new Naira notes as well as the review of the cashless policy, the CBN has stood firm on the given deadline,” he said.
He noted that the CBN should phase out the old currencies over a longer period of time, like a year, as the policy needs to get buy-in from the people for it to work.
He informed his colleagues that traders in Katsina State have started discarding old notes.
Speaking in favor of the motion, Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno), said that the CBN in Borno State is making efforts to exchange old notes for new ones, but the efforts are not enough to meet the deadline.
He noted that the activities of Boko Haram insurgents have shut down banking operations in most parts of Borno State.
“I came back from my constituency yesterday, I want to take this opportunity to commend CBN for taking some steps to tackle this problem in my constituency. As I am talking to you, CBN staff are in my constituency since yesterday. They went there with some amount to exchange small money with people. Very good move is, but I also realized that the amount taken there is not enough to exchange the old currency.
“For the last 10 years, my district has been functioning without a single bank branch. People transact in cash,” said Mr. Jaha.
In his intervention, the Speaker of the Chamber, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the Chamber needs to engage with the heads of commercial banks to understand the real situation on the ground.
“We can all agree that it’s a good policy. The policy needs to be reviewed. I think we need to add another prayer, on the one hand, this is the crux of the matter, because the banks are saying they don’t have money, on the other hand, CBN doesn’t, you have money.
“We need to direct and invite the bank executives, the senior ones to brief the leadership or a very small ad hoc committee. Let us know the truth if these new notes are available. Is it the banks or the CBN,” he said.
Consequently, the House decided to set up an ad hoc committee headed by Majority Leader Alhassan Doguwa (APC, Kano) to engage with the banks on Wednesday and then meet with the CBN.
The upper house has also asked for an extension of the deadline after passing the motion presented by Sodiq Umar (APC, Kwara), arguing that the policy is affecting the people negatively.
Speaking in support of the motion, Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti) stated that most Nigerians have never had the opportunity to touch the new notes, adding that the time frame for implementing the policy is too short.
He said the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, must look beyond the election and consider the impact of politics.
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Sam Egwu (PDP, Ebonyi) was the only member to oppose the motion, stating that there was nothing to justify the call for time extension. He said the reason given by the CBN governor is genuine enough.
While the lawmakers were debating 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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