The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday declared that the January 31, 2023 deadline fixed by the apex bank for the return of old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes would not be extended.
Emefiele, rather, urged those who might still be holding on to the old banknotes to turn them in, assuring them they would not be harassed by the anti-graft agencies.
The CBN Governor’s comment came just as the Senate and House of Representatives members urged the banking sector regulator to extend the deadline.
Both the red chamber and the green chamber requested for a six-month extension of the deadline. In addition, the House of Representatives set up an ad hoc committee to meet Managing Directors of banks and subsequently with the CBN over the public outcry on the cash withdrawal limit and scarcity of the redesigned naira.
The House had on Tuesday called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), over the brewing crisis occasioned by the January 31 deadline.
An ad hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the scarcity of the new naira at commercial banks on Wednesday frowned at the failure of the management staff of the apex bank to appear before it on Thursday.
However, addressing journalists at the end of a two-day meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in Abuja, the first in the year, the CBN governor insisted that the 100 days allowed for anyone to deposit the notes in commercial banks was more than adequate.
Emefiele also disclosed that to date, between N1.3 trillion and N1.5 trillion of the old naira notes had so far been returned, adding that the figure was expected to reach about N2 trillion at the end of the week.
He added that the central bank is currently printing more banknotes which would be supplied to banks to boost availability as the old notes would expire at the end of the month.
Emefiele’s declaration puts paid to speculations that the central bank may bow to public pressure and move forward, the deadline it set for the return of the old naira notes, after which they would no longer remain a legal tender.
The managing directors/chief executive officers of the banks, under the auspices of the Bankers’ Committee, were to meet with an ad hoc committee of the House to be chaired by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.
On Wednesday, the CBN failed to appear before the committee.