BREAKING: Senate, Reps wade into Naira notes dilemma
he Senate has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the withdrawal date of the old naira notes from January 31 to July 31.
The upper chamber also urged the CBN to open an exchange window where people that don’t have bank accounts to deposit their old notes to do so.
The senate’s resolutions were sequel to a motion by Sen. Sadiq Suleiman (APC-Kwara) during Tuesday’s plenary.
Moving the motion, Suleiman recalled that the Senate in it’s resolution on Dec. 28, 2022, urged the CBN to extend the use of the old notes from Jan. 31 to June 30.
He said that however, the apex bank had insisted on terminating the use of the old naira notes by end of Jan.
Suleiman lamented that there was no enough new naira notes in circulation and as such, moved that the date should be extended to July 31.
He said: “Experiences around the world have shown that such abrupt decision if not controlled usually created chaos.
“The Senate should extend the use of the old notes to July 31,” he said.
Supporting the motion, Sen. Ibrahim Hadejia (APC-Jigawa) said that the call for extension was for their constituents and not for their (lawmakers) personal benefits.
“In my constituency, no Automated Teller Machine (ATM) is dispensing the new notes.”.
Similarly, Sen. Adamu Aliero (PDP-Kebbi) said that the the policy would inflict untold hardship on people living in the rural areas.
“The CBN governor should be invited,” he said.
Sen. Adamu Bulkachuwa (PDP-Bauchi) said that the extension was necessary otherwise there would be chaos.
Sen. Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti) who decried that in her local government area, about 90 per cent of the people have not seen a glimpse of the new naira notes, called on the apex bank to “look away from the elections”.
She said that if the date was not extended, it would lead to collateral damage which would not augur well for the economy.
Sen. Mohammed Ndume (APC-Borno) called on the Senate to use its oversight responsibility on the CBN to “order the the CBN governor to extend the date”.
He said that the power of the senate should not be played down calling on the senators to stand firm on the call for extension.
For Sen. Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi) who was the only senator who opposed the motion, “Nigerians do not have the culture of keeping their money in the bank.
“It is in Nigeria where cash is used arbitrarily; other countries use electronic means.
“Nigerians are just averse to change,” Egwu said.
In his remarks, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that most of the senatorial districts did not have banks.
He said: “In rural Nigeria, there are no banks and people transact businesses with cash more often.
“There is no doubt that we must have window for exchange. We must have policies by the CBN to have bank branches established in rural areas.
“We need this extension for the most ordinary Nigerians,” Lawan said.
Recall the CBN had on October 26 announced plans to redesign the 200, 500, and 1,000 naira notes.
Sequel to the announcement by the apex bank, President Muhammadu unveiled the redesigned naira notes in November 2022.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has summoned bank operators and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, on the scarcity of the new naira notes.
The bank operators are to appear on Wednesday, while the CBN governor will appear on Thursday.
This is sequel to the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance by Rep. Sanda Soli (APC-Katsina) at the plenary in Abuja on Tuesday.
In his motion, Soli said that all over the world, currencies were being ‘phased out’ and not ‘forced out’.
He said: ”I am of the view that our currencies are being forced out and there is the need for some reviews and sensitisation by CBN and non-bank promoters.”
The lawmaker called for review of the cashless policy, adding that CBN should ensure price stability.
Although Soli said that the cashless policy was in tandem with global best practices, he, however, added that most banks in Nigeria did not have what it takes to ensure that such was achieved.
He decried what he called the CBN’s refusal to listen to the cry of Nigerians for the extension of the Jan. 31 deadline for the deposit of the old naira notes, stating that this might have negative effect on the economy.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila, said that as good as the policy was, the modus operandi and the timing were the problem.
Gbajabiamila said that the currency should be phased out gradually, such that Nigerians would use the old and new naira together.
“There is nothing wrong in reviewing a policy; banks are claiming they don’t have the new naira notes, while CBN is also claiming the banks have them,” he said.
The speaker said that banks’ managing directors should be invited to brief the leadership or the ad-hoc committee to find out whether the money was available or they are being hoarded by banks.
The House, however, called for a six-month extension of the deadline to make the new notes available and that President Muhammadu Buhari should intervene on the debacle in the interest of Nigerians.
The House also set up an ad-hoc committee, led by Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, to meet with bank operators on Wednesday on Jan. 31 deadline on the old currency.
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