By AbdulHafeez Oyewole
On the 15th of December, 2022, the newly redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes were launched by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). According to the apex bank, these launched banknotes are expedient as it’s part of the effort to fight counterfeiting and the financing of Islamist groups.
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari during their introduction, at the presidential Villa, said the new notes would help to control liquidity in an economy where most money is held outside the bank. In the same vein, The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele said the new notes would drive financial inclusion and economic growth.
This would be a plausible move if it was to be done earlier before now and some punitive measures had been emplaced.
However, fast forward to Tuesday, 24th of January, 2023, the new notes are yet to be in circulation, seven days to the deadline. Many Nigerians lamented how the ATMs had been dispensing the old notes instead of the new ones as directed by the apex bank to the commercial banks. Nigerians also raised the complaints and concern about the new notes bleaching when they are wet.
Apex bank has alleged that commercial banks are refusing to pick the new notes and those banks that have stuck the new notes are hoarding it. While the CBN has said it would sanction banks that failed to comply with its directive of releasing the new notes to the ATM machines for withdrawal by the populace (including the POS vendors), instead of granting over the counter payment, Nigerians are still afraid of being offered counterfeit notes since many of them are yet to access the new notes, plus the new banknotes have largely been reported to change colours at will.
As the deadline for the expiration of the old ones draws nearer, it is of importance for the apex bank to intensify efforts at sensitizing the populace on the significance of the collection of the new naira notes. The government’s agency like the National Orientation Agency should be involved, if they’ve not been, in the crusade for the embracement of the new notes by Nigerians.
Within the remaining days, there is also the need for monitoring teams of the CBN to go out and monitor how the commercial banks are following its directive; the defaulting banks should be closed or fine handsomely. A toll-free line should be made available by the Apex bank to Nigerians for reporting banks that failed to comply. All in all, there is nothing wrong with the extension of the deadline or better still allowing both old and new notes to remain legal tenders for a couple of months until the old notes fissile out in circulation.
– Abdulhafeez Oyewole writes from Ilorin, the Capital of Kwara State.
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