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Old Naira Notes: No going Back on January 31 Deadline, CBN Insists

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that it will not extend the January 31 deadline for N1,000, N500 and N200 notes to cease being legal tender despite pressure from Nigerians on the need for an extension of the deadline.

The apex bank also warned commercial banks in the country to desist from dispensing the old naira currency through their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) or face sanction from the bank.

Addressing traders at the Katsina Central Market Thursday on the need to change their old currency, the CBN Director of Currency Operations, Ahmed Bello Umar, said there is no plan to extend the deadline.

The old notes are expected to be out of circulation by January 31 yet there is scarcity of the new notes as banks keep dispensing old notes to their customers across the country.

But Umar explained that the apex bank has enough new naira currency which have since been distributed across commercial banks for onward disbursement to their respective customers through ATMs.

He added that the management of the CBN has directed that from Friday last week, “all ATMs must carry only new notes. If the banks don’t have the new notes they should not load the old notes”.

He said: “The January 31 deadline is fast approaching and the CBN has no plan to extend the deadline. So, all those who have the old notes should please take them to their banks so that they will be exchanged or credited to their accounts.

“We are going round towns and cities in Nigeria to ensure that all the ATMs are loaded with new notes. And there is relaxation on the policy, they can dispense any of the notes either N1,000, N500 or N200 notes.

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Economy

Nigerians Can’t Wait for Buhari’s Seven Days, Crisis Looming – Experts

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By Eric Elezuo

Following the disappearance of naira notes from the Nigerian business circle, human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, as well as a professor of Economics, University of Uyo, Edet Akpakpan, have asked Nigerians to reject the request by the President to be given seven days to resolve the new naira scarcity, warning that the patience of Nigerians will not last the proposed seven days, and eruption of crisis may take centre stage.

Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, Falana said it was obvious that the CBN did not print sufficient quantities of the new naira notes, and wondered what magic Buhari planned to perform within seven days.

The lawyer demanded that the CBN should scrap the deadline for the phasing out of the old naira notes, while the old notes it mopped up from circulation should be returned to Nigerians.

He said, “Nigerians can’t wait for seven days. People are fighting in the banks; somebody died in Agbor in Delta; soldiers are attacking students; a woman stripped herself naked because the ordinary people cannot get money. And El-Rufai said somebody collected N500m. No bank has been given N500m new notes! No bank, you can quote me! So, he should name the person, who has not only sabotaged the policy of the government, but has also engaged in money laundering.

“The government wants to dodge responsibilities. The government of the day must take responsibility. Who does Buhari want to consult in seven days? They do not have sufficient new notes. For that reason, they cannot maintain the deadline. So, Nigerians must be allowed to spend the old money, which they have collected from them. The CBN must return the old notes to Nigerians!”

According to Falana, the policy will not stop monetisation of elections as the rich will always have access to naira, while the masses suffer.

He said, “It is a bundle of confusion and it simply confirmed that this was not well thought out. They were just all about preventing monetisation of elections; they didn’t consider the impact on the masses.

“Some of the presidential candidates have banks and bank managers will take the money to their houses. So, it doesn’t stop monetisation of elections. They are just punishing the ordinary people. Have you seen any big man in bank queues for money? The rich can always have money in their homes.”

A professor of Economics, University of Uyo, Edet Akpakpan, urged the Federal Government to resolve the situation to avert imminent crisis.

He also enjoined banks to desist from favouring influential people against the poor through the issuance of higher denominations.

Akpakpan stated, “The idea is good but the implementation is poor as they are not ready. The situation has to be arrested or else it will be terrible, especially as we move closer to the general elections. There is a need for the CBN to make resources available.

“And again the banks should be warned not to be biased with the way the funds are issued. Let them not favour some big men over the common man. We need to stop such things. I support this policy, but the implementation has to be re-organised.”

It would be recalled that Buhari, while receiving the governors voted on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who paid him a working visit at the Aso Rock Villa, had canvass for a solution to alleviate the hardship Nigerians are going through, said he would need seven days to come out with a decision, blaming banks of compromising the process.

“Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves…even if a year is added, the problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away,” Buhari told the Progressive Governors’ Forum members.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed this in a statement titled, ‘President Buhari asks for seven days for a major decision on currency redesign’.

The President said he had seen reports on television about cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people, and promised that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension would be used to crack down on whatever stood in the way of the successful implementation.

“I will revert to the CBN and the Minting Company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” the President was quoted as saying.

The governors had earlier told the President that although they supported his decision to renew the naira, the execution had been botched and their constituents were becoming increasingly upset.

They said as leaders of the government and party in their respective states, they were becoming anxious about a slump in the economy and the series of elections that were coming.

Nigerians await with apprehension what the coming week will unfold as anger has permeated the minds of citizens, the address of Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele on Friday notwithstanding.

Additional information: The Punch

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Economy

Fuel Scarcity: FG Raises 14-Man Panel for Solution

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The Federal Government is meeting with operators in the midstream and downstream oil sector as part of measures towards developing strategic stock for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, in key locations across the country.

It said the national strategic stocks would help in addressing the recurring fuel scarcity in Nigeria, as it also announced the constitution of a 14-man committee to find a lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products.

The Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources stated that President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved the  constitution of a 14-man Steering Committee on Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution Management, which he would personally chair.

The ministry said the move was to find lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.

It said the committee had the Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Chief Timipre Sylva, as Alternate Chairman, as the team would ensure transparent and efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products.

“Other terms of reference are to ensure national strategic stock management, visibility on the NNPC Limited refineries rehabilitation programme and ensure end-to-end tracking of petroleum products, especial PMS, to ascertain daily national consumption and eliminate smuggling,” the FMPR stated in a statement.

To ensure sanity in the supply and distribution across the value chain, Sylva directed the NMDPRA to ensure strict compliance with the government approved ex-depot and retail prices for PMS.

The ministry stated that other members of the committee include the Minister of Finance; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources; National Economic Adviser to the President; and Director-General, Department of State Services.

Others include the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; and Commandant-General, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The Chief Executive, NMDPRA; Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Limited; Special Advisor (Special Duties) to the HMSPR; were also listed as members of the committee, while the Technical Advisor (Midstream) to the HMSPR would serve as secretary.

The Punch

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Economy

CBN Raises Interest Rate to 17.5%

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The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria has voted to increase the benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points to 17.5 per cent.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this while reading the communiqué of the first MPC meeting of the year on Tuesday.

This is the fifth time the CBN would increase the interest rate despite advice from manufacturers and some key stakeholders.

The CBN said previous increases were beginning to yield results with the slight drop in the inflation rate recorded in December 2022.

However, the CBN stressed that there was a need to keep tightening its fiscal policy.

The CBN keeps the asymmetric corridor at +100/-700 basis points around the MPR.

The CBN also retained the CRR at 32.5 per cent while the liquidity ratio was kept at 30 per cent.

The apex bank had increased the MPR from 11.5 per cent earlier last year to 16.5 per cent across four consecutive rate hikes in 2022.

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