By Sunday Elijah, LAGOS
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has finally bowed to pressure and extended deadline for swap of old naira notes at commercial banks by 10 days.
A statement Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, on Sunday said the new deadline is February 10, 2023.
However, Nigerians will still be able to deposit their old notes directly with the CBN until February 17, 2023 described as “grace period”.
Nigerians had been complaining about the inability to swap their old notes for the new designs as the January 31 deadline loomed.
Although banks are working through the weekend to swap the notes, there are widespread complaints about scarcity, with people in the rural areas the most hit.
The CBN initially said it would not extend the deadline.
However, Emefiele said on Sunday that as a result of measures put in place to ease the scarcity, President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval for the deadline extension.
He said: “Based on the foregoing, we have sought and obtained Mr President’s approval for the following: a 10-day extension of the deadline from January 31, 2023, to February 10, 2023; to allow for collection of more old notes legitimately held by Nigerians and achieve more success in cash swap in our rural communities after which all old notes outside the CBN loses their Legal Tender Status.
“Our CBN staff currently on mass mobilization and monitoring together with officials of the EFCC and ICPC will work together to achieve these objectives.
“A 7-day grace period, beginning on February 10 to February 17, 2023, in compliance with Sections 20(3) and 22 of the CBN Act, allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline when the old currency would have lost its Legal Tender status.”
The naira redesign is believed to be targeted at stopping vote buying in the 2023 general election scheduled for February 25 and March 11.