President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday in Daura, Katsina State, approved extension of the ongoing currency swap by ten days, moving the deadline from January 31, 2023 to February 10, 2023.
According to a press statement signed by Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Buhari gave the approval at a meeting with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, 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.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the CBN Governor said the currency swap had achieved more than 75 per cent success rate of the N2.7 trillion held outside the banking system, with evident drop in rate of inflation, more stability of foreign exchange rates, and noticeable impact on security, especially in banditry and kidnapping figures.
“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 and indeed, let me emphasize, that only an incorruptible leader of the President’s stature can give such approval to the CBN,” he said.
The CBN Governor noted that redesigns were supposed to be every five to eight years.
“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 are making good progress in this important task,” he added.
The head of the apex financial regulator said available data had shown that currency-in- circulation in 2015 was only N1.4 trillion, while as at October 2022, currency in circulation had risen to N3.23 trillion, out of which only N500 billion was within the banking industry.
He said N2.7 trillion was held permanently in people’s homes.
“Ordinarily, when CBN releases currency into circulation, it is meant to be used and after effluxion of time, it returns to the CBN thereby keeping the volume of currency in circulation under the firm control of the CBN.
“So far and since commencement of this programme, we have collected about N1.9 trillion; leaving us with about N900 billion (N500 billion + N1.9 trillion),” the CBN Governor said.
According to Emefiele, to achieve effective distribution of the new currency, the CBN has taken some steps.
He said several meetings were held with Deposit Money Banks and they were provided with Guidance Notes on processes they must adopt in the collection of old notes and distribution of the New Notes, including directives that new notes should be loaded in ATMs nationwide for equitable and transparent mechanism.
The CBN Governor explained that the regulatory body worked with the media, print and broadcast, and the National Orientation Agency for sensitization of citizens, while 30,000 Super Agents were deployed nationwide, particularly in rural areas, regions underserved by banks and to reach the weak and vulnerable for currency swap.
To ensure compliance, Emefiele said staff members, mostly Assistant Directors, Deputy Directors and Directors in Abuja were sent to all CBN branches nationwide to join the mass mobilization campaign and monitoring programmes.
He said breaches of the programme had been reported to the EFCC and ICPC for further action.
“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,” he stated.
“Based on the foregoing, we have sought and obtained Mr President’s approval for the following: A ten-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023, to February 10, 2023; to allow for collection of more old notes legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more success in cash swap in our rural communities after which all old notes outside CBN losses their legal tender status,” the Governor explained.
Emefiele said a seven-day grace period had been given by the President, beginning from February 10 to February 17, 2023, in compliance with Sections 20 (3) and 22 of CBN Act allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline.
Fielding questions from newsmen, the CBN Governor said the excuse of security threats pushed by the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, had no bearing on the swap, which had achieved compliance and recorded huge success across the country.
“I don’t understand the relationship between the CBN policy and security challenges in Kano State,” he added.
He noted that all new currencies had security features that make it easy for tracking to bank branches, and the process had begun to deal with defaulters and those who breached the programme.
“Even if they are CBN staff, they will be sanctioned,” Emefiele warned.