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General News of Sunday, 29 January 2023


New Naira Notes: Atiku calls for extension of deadline

Atiku Abubakar Atiku Abubakar

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has called for the extension of the 31 January deadline for the validity of old naira notes.

Atiku, in a pre-recorded video clip he posted on his Facebook account on Saturday, said the deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would adversely affect unbanked and rural populations.

“The ongoing policy of the CBN to redesign the naira has generated wide reactions across the country and beyond,” he said in the 2.13 minutes long video clip.

“This exercise is a worldwide practice and therefore, not new. Especially as the January 31st deadline draws closer, a great number of Nigerians, out of good conscience, have expressed apprehension about how the deadline will make life more difficult for a large number of Nigerians.

“The large number of (the) unbanked population who do their businesses, especially in the rural area, will find it almost impossible to meet up with the deadline of January 31st to exchange their old bank notes for the redesigned currency.

“I’m aware of the challenges that farmers and others, like artisans, in remote areas of the country go through in moving cash from remote areas to commercial banks for conversion.”

In recent weeks, Nigerians have been rushing to meet the CBN deadline for the phase-out of the old naira notes of N200, N500, and N1,000. This is against the backdrop of the country’s poor distribution of the newly redesigned notes, which has led to long queues at some ATMs and high charges for citizens at Point of Sale (POS) centres.

Although many have expressed opposing views on whether the CBN should extend the deadline of 31 January, the CBN has insisted that the deadline remained.

President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday acknowledged that many Nigerians were ‘facing hardships’ by the policy but kept mum on the call for an extension.

But given the chaos and disruptions to businesses that the scarcity of the new notes has caused, Atiku urged CBN to “slightly extend” the 31 January deadline.
He noted that the deadline would “certainly” cause heavy discomfort for many citizens.

The former vice president also urged the government and regulatory agencies to “ease the burden on the people in the public interest.”

“On this note, I’m compelled to align my position with the upsurge of demands for a slight extension of the monetary conversion policy.

“The January 31st deadline will certainly cause a heavy discomfort on our people and it will be magnanimous on the part of government and regulatory agencies to ease the burden on the people in the public interest,” he said.

Atiku also asked the CBN to continue sensitising the public about the importance of mobile banking while it considers an extension.

“While we can continue to sensitise the public on the impending imperative of mobile banking policy, it is important for the CBN to consider an extension of time that the public can convert their unbanked monies into new notes thereby reducing the financial consequences on these vulnerable citizens,” he said.

“I believe such a painful experience is not the intention behind the currency redesign initiative.”