The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend its January 31 deadline to phase out old notes in circulation in the country.
Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, said this when speaking with newsmen on Thursday in Abuja on his achievements and challenges as congress president for the past eight years.
Wabba, who was elected as president in 2015, had served two terms and have only weeks to bow out.
Wabba said that the directive of the Senate of the National Assembly seeking an extension of the deadline was appropriate.
He said that this was owing to the fact that majority of Nigerians who live in remote areas where banks do not exist were yet to access the new Naira notes.
According to him, as NLC, “we have tried to respond officially by writing to the CBN governor. We also wrote to the President to say that this new policy of changing our Naira needs to be revisited.
“It is obvious that even in the city centers, banks are still dispensing old notes and this is correct. I remember, I went to about 10 banks and none was actually dispensing the new notes.
“In fact, most of the banks now, if you are lucky, they will dispense only few notes and you can check that around.
“So the new notes are not available and they are not in circulation and the old notes are being rejected.
“Even in city centers, where we have banks, the banks are not dispensing.
“If you go to the rural areas and see the chaotic nature of how people have come with their money to change, it has become a problem,” he said.
He added that no policy should be meant actually to haunt people like what is happening now.
The NLC president therefore called on the Federal Government to look at the issue carefully before it snowballs into a major crisis in the country.
He noted that the new notes are not easily available. There are only few in circulation, adding that the rural areas is worse. As most of the rural areas don’t have banks.
“The state I come from in the entire states. You have only three banks in three local government out of 27 local governments.
”All the other local governments, 24 of them, do not have banks and some of them are not accessible,” he said.
Wabba said government must think through the new Naira policy in order for the people not to suffer the consequences of the policy.
”It is the poor masses and even the working class that will feel the pinch of this policy. Because how will you not withdrawal the old currencies when the new one is not even available.
”The policy, certainly, will also impact negatively on our economy, because the notes are not available and people are now rejecting the old notes.
”The policy certainly is not a policy that is making people to believe that the policy is meant to address the fundamental issues.
”We align ourselves fully with the position of the Senate, we call for this policy to be reviewed and to give extension, so that all the old notes can then be mopped up by the bank,” he added.