The Senate has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the withdrawal date of the old naira notes from Jan. 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.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that CBN had on Oct. 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 Nov. 2022.
The CBN warned that the Jan. 31, deadline to halt the use of the old 200, 500 and 1000 Naira note would not be extended.
The bank urged all Nigerians to make good use of the window allowed for the return of the old notes to commercial banks in order not to suffer financial losses.
The Director, Financial Markets Department of the Bank, Dr. Angela Sere-Ejembi who sounded the warning on Thursday in Makurdi when she led a team to Benue to sensitise the people and also monitor commercial banks’ compliance to the apex bank’s directive on the issuance of the redesigned new Naira notes expressed satisfaction with the compliance level in the banks her team had so far visited.