There are concerns that the apex bank may not be able to meet the January 31 deadline for the cessation of the circulation of the old Naira notes, which is 21 days away.
This is especially true given that some Nigerians have expressed concerns and dissatisfaction regarding the apex bank's handling of the process and the scarcity of the new naira notes.
Keep in mind that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced in October of last year that it would redesign, produce, and distribute new series of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes. The highest denomination of Nigeria's eight legal tenders is represented by the three notes.
The new currency notes went into circulation on December 15, 2022, following President Muhammadu Buhari's unveiling of the new designs on November 23, 2022. Until January 31, 2023, both the new and existing notes were considered legal tender.
Between Monday and Friday of last week, DAILY POST investigated a number of bank branches and ATM galleries in the Abuja Federal Capital Territory to see if the CBN's directive had been followed.
Our correspondent went to Maitama, Utako, Kubwa, Wuse, and the Central Business District to visit various bank branches.
The majority of them were still handing out old notes to customers, according to the findings. Old notes were also being given to customers at the cash register.
Our correspondent used an ATM at the Access Bank branch in Abuja's Utako District and reported that customers were receiving old N500 and N1000 bills. The same thing happened in other places that our correspondents went to.
In addition, a number of PoS businesses operating within the Kubwa, Bwari Area Council of the FCT stated that they did not have any new notes to provide to their customers. They also stated that, despite receiving a bail of N100,000 from the bank, they were only issued N1,000 worth of new notes.
The CBN had insisted that the date of January 31, 2023, when the old currencies would be phased out of circulation, remain the deadline despite concerns about the scarcity of the new notes.
On Wednesday, the apex bank issued a directive to the banks directing them to implement the policy immediately.
However, as of the weekend before last, the banks had not followed the apex bank's directive because they had complained that there was not enough of the new notes, so they had loaded their ATMs with the old ones.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stated that the current series of N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes would continue to be accepted as payment until the 31st of January. However, it advised Nigerians to ensure that they had deposited all of their old N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes before the deadline.
In addition, it stated that the old notes could not be used after the stated date.
The CBN posted over the weekend on its Facebook page, "The current series of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes would remain legal tender until the deadline of January 31, 2023."
Muda Yusuf, a Nigerian economist and Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Promotion of Private Enterprises, CPPE, reacted to the development by stating that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had grossly underestimated what it would take to make currencies available throughout the country.
On Monday, Yusuf spoke when he appeared on the morning show on Arise Television.
He stated that the apex bank's deadline of January 31 is unreasonable.
He stated, "The CBN should be significantly more sensitive to environmental developments." We can clearly see that there is ample evidence everywhere; We are dealing with a situation where CBN has a capacity issue, both in terms of the capacity to produce new notes and logistics capacity.
Evidently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has grossly underestimated the requirements for making these currencies available nationwide. What are we going to say about people in the more remote areas of other states outside of these major cities if we are receiving such feedback and stories from cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Kano?
I have not seen the new currency notes beyond what I see on the screen and other similar items as I speak with you. However, the deadline is only about three weeks away. This is obviously not true, and I wonder if the CBN sometimes acts like they are on a different planet than we are. This is clearly not possible; Clearly, the deadline is impractical. Sincerely, I am unable to comprehend the rush. I have no idea what they hope to accomplish."
In the meantime, a few weeks before the deadline, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, or HURIWA, questioned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) regarding the lack of new naira notes.
In a statement, HURIWA also urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, to pursue currency hawkers and powerful individuals who have stolen the few new currency notes that the apex bank recently released.
Millions of Nigerians, including those in cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano, and others, have yet to see or touch the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes three weeks after they were released by the CBN. Rural areas and villages have a particularly bad situation.
It stated in a statement that, despite the approaching deadline of January 31, 2023, "black marketers, politicians, and expatriates continue to get access to crispy naira notes but deny millions of ordinary Nigerian bank depositors access to the new notes."
Regarding the development, Dr. Anayochukwu Basil Chukwu, a financial expert from the Alex Ekwueme Federal University in Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi State, stated that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was unprepared for the policy aims they have set for themselves.
The financial expert stated that many Nigerians, particularly those in rural areas, were out of the banking industry and would have trouble adapting to the new policy.
"The CBN is not prepared to do the necessary," he stated. Their posture and policy direction have not been in support of their goals.
“In reality, they want to ensure that the economy is placed on a solid foundation, but as it stands, it appears as though they are unprepared for the policy directions that they have set for themselves.
The majority of people, even in urban areas, have not yet accessed the new naira notes, let alone those in the villages, so I believe they need to move the deadline.
If they don't change or reverse this policy, it will cause a lot of problems, especially for people who aren't in the bankable communities because many of them don't work in the banking industry.
If I'm not mistaken, more than 30 million Nigerians are out of the banking industry. If they don't have bank accounts and other financial resources, I wonder how they will adapt to the new policy direction.
Because of the country's circumstances, "the central bank should shift that deadline to make it more realistic."