By Naomi Sharang, Abuja.
The Senate has called on 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 for people who do not 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 its 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 the apex bank had, however, insisted on terminating the use of the old naira notes by end of Jan. 31.
Suleiman bemoaned the paucity of new naira notes in circulation and as such, moved that the deadline for the use of old notes 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,” he added.
Similarly, Sen. Adamu Aliero (PDP-Kebbi) said that 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 lamented that more than 90 per cent of the people of her local government area had not had a glimpse of the new naira notes, called on the CBN 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 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.
Sen. Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi), who was the only senator who opposed the motion, said: “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.”
In his remarks, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said that most of the senatorial districts in the country 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 a window for exchange. We must have policies by the CBN to have bank branches established in rural areas.
“We need this date extension for the most ordinary Nigerians,” Lawan said.
It would be recalled that CBN, on Oct. 26, 2022, announced plans to redesign the 200, 500, and 1,000 naira notes.
Following the CBN announcement, President Muhammadu Muhammadu unveiled the redesigned naira notes in November 2022.
The CBN has repeatedly warned that the Jan. 31-deadline to halt the use of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes 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.