The House of Representatives are on collision course with President Muhammadu Buhari over the new deadline for the withdrawal of old Naira notes.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had before now, set a January 31 deadline for the exchange of old Naira notes of N200, N500 and N1000 with the new ones.
But the President yesterday, on the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN approved a 10-day extension of the deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes to February 10, 2023.
A seven-day grace period, beginning on February 10 to February 17,2023, was also approved to enable Nigerians deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline when the old currency would cease to be recognised as legal tender.
But the House of Representatives in a swift reaction yesterday, rejected the extension, insisting that the CBN complied with its resolution that the deadline be extended by six months.
Buhari approves deadline – Emefiele
The 10-days extension of the deadline was approval was given by the President after meeting with the apex bank’s governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, in Buhari’s country home in Daura, Katsina State on Sunday.
The President consented to Emefiele”s request, urging more time, discretion and order to enable Nigerians successfully change their currencies to the redesigned notes, and reduce the risk of loss, especially among the underserved in rural areas.
Emefiele briefed correspondents after the meeting, revealing that 75 per cent of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system had been recovered, with evident drop in the rate of inflation, more stability of foreign exchange rates, and noticeable impact on security, especially in banditry and kidnapping figures.
He said: “First, I will like to thank Mr. President for giving the CBN the approval to embark on this ambitious programme because, like I said, in the past, the CBN has not had the opportunity to embark on such currency redesign programme in last 19 years.
“Let me emphasize that only an incorruptible leader of the President’s stature can give such approval to the CBN.’’
The CBN governor, who noted that currency redesigns were supposed to be every five to eight years, said: “Our aim is mainly to make monetary policy decisions more efficacious and as you can see, we have started to see inflation trending downwards and exchange rates relatively stable.
“Secondly, we aim to support the efforts of our security agencies in combating banditry and ransom taking in Nigeria through this programme and we see that the military is making good progress in this important task.
“We are happy that so far, the exercise has achieved a success rate of over 75 per cent of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system. Nigerians in the rural areas, villages, the aged and vulnerable have had the opportunity to swap their old notes; leveraging the Agent Naira Swap initiative as well as the CBN Senior staff nationwide sensitization team exercise.
“Aside from those holding illicit/stolen Naira in their homes for speculative purposes, we do aim to give all Nigerians that have Naira legitimately earned and trapped the opportunity to deposit their legitimately trapped monies at the CBN for exchange.
“Based on the foregoing, we have sought and obtained Mr President’s approval for the following:
“10-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023, to February 10, 2023; to swap Naira legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more success in cash swap in our rural communities after which all old notes outside the CBN losses their Legal tender Status.
“Our CBN staff currently on mass mobilization and monitoring together with officials of the EFCC and ICPC will work together to achieve these objectives.
“A 7-day grace period, beginning on February 10 to February 17, 2023, in compliance with Sections 20(3) and 22 of the CBN Act allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline when the old currency would have lost its Legal Tender status.
“We, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to work with the CBN to ensure a hitch-free implementation of this very important process for program.”