President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday in his hometown of Daura, Katsina State, North-West Nigeria, graciously approved a 10-day extension of the deadline for the swapping of currency to new notes.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele, who confirmed this to journalists in Daura, Katsina State, revealed that the new deadline is now February 10, 2023.
Emefiele had been in Daura on Sunday morning for a closed-door meeting with the Buhari, where he secured the President’s approval for the new date.
The apex bank boss declared that those, who were yet to change their Naira notes from the old to new ones, ”now have an opportunity to do so”, even as he cautioned that people must utilise the opportunity, noting that the deadline would not be extended again.
It would be recalled that the CBN had fixed January 31 as the deadline for the legitimacy of the old versions of the redesigned Naira notes, comprising N200, N500 and N1,000, which became legal tender on December 15, 2022, after they were unveiled by Buhari on November 23, 2022, in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Few days to the expiration of the old deadline, there were frantic efforts across the country to exchange the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes for the new versions; an ironic turn in events when, hitherto, there had been apathy in many parts of the country towards the new notes, which false rumours tagged as allegedly been of poor quality and widely counterfeited.
As of Saturday, there were indications that traders and business owners were rejecting the old N200, N500 or N1,000 notes and insisting their customers to pay with their new versions.
There were allegations, which could not readily be substantiated, as at press time, that even worn-out N100 notes had been included among the notes being rejected for transactions alongside the old N200, N500 and N1,000.
Some of the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across were still dispensing the old Naira notes, while there were long queues at few ATMs dispensing the redesigned Naira notes.
Some banks dispensing the new notes had configured their ATMs to dispense limits of N5,000 or N10,000 per transaction.
Many ATMs in major parts of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, were not dispensing funds, leaving confused and anxious customers.
Also, some Point of Sale (PoS), operators were still paying with old Naira notes, while some who had the redesigned Naira notes increased their charges by 100 to 200 per cent.
The 10-day extension in the old Naira notes swap deadline expectedly grants the system much-welcome relief, particularly in the face of the forthcoming 2023 General Elections
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