The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday continued with its nationwide sensitisation and public enlightenment exercise on its naira redesign project as the January 31, 2023 deadline for the retirement of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 draws closer.
It also stressed that it has enough new banknotes to go round. It urged Nigerians to report banks that don’t dispense new notes on their Automated Teller Machines (ATM).
It reiterated that it would begin to sanction banks that fail to comply with its directive.
CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele who was represented by the Director of the Legal Services Department, Mr. Kofo Salam-Alada said this during a sensitisation event at the popular Computer Village market in Lagos.
He emphasised that the January 31, 2023 deadline remains sacrosanct, adding that the central bank was continuously monitoring activities across Nigeria to ensure compliance.
Salam-Alada, while noting that he had gone round to some ATMs in Lagos and discovered that some were still dispensing old notes, said the apex bank would soon announce sanctions for banks that failed to comply with the directive to load and dispense the new notes through their ATMS.
“I can tell you today that the CBN on daily basis issues out the new notes. As we speak, banks are with the CBN taking money. We are actually begging banks to come and take money from the central bank. We have these new naira in our vaults and we are begging banks to come and take it.
“We found out that a lot of things are happening that we need to checkmate, so we stopped withdrawals of the new notes over the counter to ensure that everyone can have access to it and not one chief who is known to the manager walks in and carts away all the new notes in a particular branch. That is why we said it should be at the ATMs which cannot distinguish people.
“We also have monitors going around banks now. I have been to some ATMs this morning and i have done the reports. We are not mobilising the masses against the banks, because the banks are there to serve you, but be rest assured that they will serve you now that they know that the CBN is on them to serve you with the new naira notes.
“What we are experiencing now will actually ease up very soon, because the banks now know that there will be a penalty for failure to come and pick money from the CBN and failure to dispense through the ATM. Tell your members that if they have problems accessing the new naira notes, they can call the CBN to report,” he stated.
Responding to questions from traders in the market that some persons were already hawking the new notes, stressed that anyone caught would face the full wrath of the law.
Speaking on the new notes, the President of the Coalition of Associations in Computer Village, Timi Davies, said the naira redesign project was a good initiative, “but unfortunately the new notes is not well circulated within our market. The ATM machines are not dispensing the new notes and only a few priviledged ones seem to be having access to the new notes.
“We want to encourage the CBN and the government to enforce the deadline on the banks. There should be no bank that should not be giving the new naira from their ATMs.
“All ATMs should load the new notes. As we are giving the old notes we should be able to get the new notes. If the ATMs are not dispensing, the new notes will not flow around.”
On his part, the Olukosi of Ikeja Land, Chief Lateef Oluseyi, assured the CBN of the support of the traditional ruling house in educating the community.
Also, in Ondo State, the central bank took the sensitisation on the newly redesigned naira notes to Oja Oba market, and other markers in Akure, the Ondo State capital, urging traders to deposit their old banknotes before January 31.
Speaking during the event, the CBN Acting Branch Controller, Ondo State, Mr. Giwa Samuel Ademola said the message was to inform the public about the newly redesigned naira notes and also to inform them on the need to deposit the old notes before the deadline.
He said: “The benefits of the currency redesign to the Nigerian economy are enormous given that: This policy will help to control inflation as the exercise will bring the hoarded currency into the banking system, thereby making monetary policy more effective, it will also help with better design and implementation of monetary policy as we would have much more accurate data on money supply and monetary aggregates.
According to him, “statistics showed that N2.72 trillion out of the $3.26 trillion currency in circulation as of June 2022 was outside the vaults of commercial banks across the country, and supposedly held by members of the public. This statistic shows that 84.71 percent of currency in circulation are outside the vaults of commercial banks, with only 15.29 percent in the central bank and commercial banks’ vaults.”
Reacting, the Eyelaje of Oba Adesida Market, Mrs. Emilia Adedeji Adesida called on the apex bank to extend its deadline for the phasing out of the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes.
Others who spoke complained that some of the banks operating in the state were still dispensing the old notes through their ATMs.
In Akwa Ibom State, officials of the apex bank yesterday met with the stakeholders and traders at the popular Akpan Andem market along Udoudoma street, Uyo, the State capital on the sensitisation exercise.
At the gathering, the traders were counselled on the currency redesign project and various monetary policies of the bank.
The Branch Controller of CBN, Akwa Ibom State, Mrs. Mercy Itoham Ogbomon-Paul stressed that the CBN was determined to ensuring that the currency redesign policy succeed in the country.
According to her, the global best practice was for central banks to redesign, produce and circulate new legal tender currencies every five to eight years to ensure effective currency management and achievement of monetary policy objectives.
The Branch Controller of CBN maintained that the existing series of currencies in Nigeria had not been redesigned in the past 15, 19 and over 20 years.
The CBN Branch Controller insisted that the redesigning of the naira was to help deepen the drive for a cashless economy, as it would be used alongside the e-naira and other digital payment platforms.
“It will enhance the security features of the currency to curb counterfeiting and reduce access to large volume of cash for illegal activities such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping etc.
“It will also minimise the hoarding of the banknotes by members of the public, which has led to a shortage of clean/fit banknotes,” she added.
Also, the Dutse branch of the CBN yesterday monitored ATMs of commercial banks in the state to enforce the directive on dispensing of the new banknotes.
This was disclosed by the branch controller, Hajiya Sa’adatu Ibrahim Aminu, during the sensitisation of stakeholders on the currency redesign project, which was held at Dutse Ultra Model market.
Aminu explained that the apex bank provides redesigned currency to all commercial banks in the state, “and we ordered them not load old currencies in their ATMs anymore.”
According to her, “we made very good arrangements for quick supply of the redesigned currency to all the bank branches across the 27 local government areas.”
She also advised members of the public and traders in particular to accept the old currencies, saying it was still valid till January 31st.
“Do not panic, the currency is safe and valid for now,” she added, saying, “there is no limit to how much a customer can deposit between now and January 31, 2023, as CBN has suspended bank charges.”
She called on the public to explore other payment channels, such as the eNaira, POS, electronic transfer, USSD, internet banking and mobile money operators and agents for their economic activities.
Nume Ekeghe in Lagos, Fidelis David in Akure, Okon Bassey in Uyo and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano