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‘No going back’ – CBN insists on Jan 31 deadline for old naira notes

For those hoping for a postponment of the deadline for the validity of the old naira notes, this may not be a soothing news.

With just one week left on the clock, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, says it is not going back on the January 31 deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1,000 naira notes.

In October last year, Emefiele announced the naira redesign policy which entails the issuance of new higher denomination naira notes to replace the existing ones.

All the other denominations — N100, N50, N20, N10, and N5 notes — will continue to be in circulation while the current N200, N500, and N1,000 naira notes will cease to be legal tender in the country after January 31, 2023.

Emefiele, at the bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, said the 90-day window given by the CBN for Nigerians to deposit their old currencies was enough.

“We called on the deposit money banks (DMBs) to extend their working hours, and to work on weekends,” he said.

“There is no reason to talk about a shift. The new currencies are available.”

Emefiele said the CBN had mandated commercial banks to feed the new notes into their automated teller machines (ATMs) for Nigerians to have equal access.

“We have increased disbursement of the new notes to them. There is adequate quantity of new notes available. Our mint is producing and we are supplying the banks,” the governor said.

“We have super agents in underserved areas like riverine communities, and CBN staff members have been out on mobilisation. We believe that by January 31, the new naira notes would have permeated the nooks and crannies of the country.”

Emefiele added that the CBN had so far received about N1.5 trillion of the old naira notes.

He urged Nigerians to accelerate the process of taking their old notes to the banks before the deadline, adding that they should not fear harassment from security agents.

There have been concerns from Nigerians over the slow spread, and scarcity of the three redesigned naira notes.

In response to these concerns, the apex bank launched a cash swap programme to enable those in rural areas exchange their old notes with new ones before the deadline.

Meanwhile, the national assembly has asked the CBN to extend the deadline till July.

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