UPDATE: Godwin Emefiele extends naira swap deadline after pressure

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has extended the deadline for the naira swap from January 31 to February 10, 2023.

The CBN Governor, in a statement on Sunday, also disclosed that Nigerians with “legitimate notes” will be given a further 7 days grace period, “beginning on February 10 to February 17, in compliance with section 20(3) and 22 of the CBN act allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN.”

The decision was made after the Apex Bank governor consulted with the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Godwin Emefiele and President Muhammadu Buhari
Godwin Emefiele and President Muhammadu Buhari

Godwin Emefiele outlines guidelines to achieve the program

The Central Bank has “deployed all our staff, particularly the Assistant Directors, Deputy Directors and Directors in Abuja to proceed to all CBN branches Nationalwide to join the mass mobiliation campaign and monitoring programs,” with the purpose of working with the “Deposit Money Banks, agents and our Branch controllers across the 36 states of the Federation.”

“This is meant to ensure compliance with all our guidelines already issued for smooth implementation of the program.”

Mr Emefiele also alleged the implementation had been meant with some breaches by some bank branches, adding that “we have agreed with Executive Chairman of the EFCC and ICPC to assist us, by sending their staff to all CBN and DMB branches to join in the monitoring.”

Some Nigerians lambasted the CBN after it was discovered that there are many constraints in meeting the guidelines of returning the old naira notes.

For example, according to a Nigerian who spoke with The Standard Gazette, Mr Aiyamekhue Edokpor, “Nigerians are no doubt returning the old notes in quantum, but the Banks daily quota of the new notes in their ATM is Two million naira (N2,000,000), and most Banks ATM dispense the old note.

He wondered where Nigerians are expected to feel adequate circulations. He argued that “The process out to be systemic in the sense that old notes are never returned by the commercial banks or microfinance banks once they are paid-in by customers.

“Once I deposit my old N50k in cash, I should be able to withdraw at least N30k new notes. This is the cry of most Nigerians, including myself.”

The CBN governor disclosed in his latest statement that m billeetings have been held with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and have been provided with guidance notes on processes they must adopt in the collection of old notes and distribution of the new notes to all Nigerians.

“These include specific directives to DMBs to load new notes into their ATMs nationwide to ensure an equitable and transpiarent mechanism for the distribution of the new notes to all Nigerians,” Godwin Emefiele said.

According to Central Bank of Nigeria data, In 2015, currency-in-circulation was only N1.4 trillion. The Money in Circulation rose to N3.23 trillion as of October 2022, out of which only N500 billion was within the Banking industry, and N2.7 trillion was held permanently in people’s homes.

Mr Emefiele noted that since the beginning of the naira swap, the CBN has collected about N1.9 trillion, “leaving us with about N900 billion (N500 billion + N1.9 trillion).

He urged Nigerians to work with the CBN to ensure a “hitch free” process for the implementation of this very important program.”

Political Leaders Pressured Godwin Emefiele to make u-turn

Between the 16 to 29 January, 2023, Candidates of the various political parties, including the ruling party called on the CBN to alleviate the suffering of the nation by extending the deadline.

Mr Bola Tinunu. the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, accused his own political party of attempting to sabotaging his chance of winning the election with the new naira note guidelines. Mr Rabiu Kwankwaso, the candidate of the New Nigeria People Party (NNPP) had also weighed in support of Nigerians.

The Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party candidate Mr. Peter called on the CBN governor to consider extending the dates, to enable Nigerians fully return their money,

On Saturday, 28 January, Mr. Emefiele, held his ground that he would not extend the deadline, saying Nigerians were given three months for the swap, which he considered enough time.

But barely 24hrs after his last statement, he met with Mr. Buhari and rescinded on his ultimatum.

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