The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Sunday said there is no going back on the January 31 deadline it gave for the return of old N200, N500 and N1, 000 notes to the banks.
The apex bank said it has directed banks to stop over-the-counter issuance of the new naira notes, limiting the dispensation to ATM withdrawals only, as part of efforts to ensure adequate circulation of the redesigned notes before the deadline.
In allaying concerns over the closeness of the deadline, the CBN said it has made provisions for the newly redesigned naira notes to be circulated nationwide, including in rural areas.
Part of the provisions is its partnership with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and various market associations.
It said the partnership would begin an aggressive enlightenment and public awareness campaign on the naira redesign project as well as the need to properly handle the naira notes from Tuesday.
“Banks are barred from distributing the new notes over-the-counter. All new notes must go to the ATMs. The directive to the banks from the central bank is that as they must dispense through their ATMs nationwide and people can go to the ATMs to collect the money. They cannot dispense the new notes across the counter for now until they exhaust the new notes. And when that happens, they can then upload the old notes. Until they get another supply of new notes,” ThisDay quoted a CBN source as saying.
“That is the only way to ensure that the new notes are being circulated. Otherwise, what the banks were doing from our intelligence was that they were holding the cash and giving it to high profile individuals and customers over-the-counter and not circulating it to ordinary customers. So, we decided they must only dispense it through ATM machines for now until it fully circulates in the financial system,” the source said, adding that banks caught breaching this directive would face stiff sanctions.
However, the general public are lamenting that 21 days to the deadline, banks’ ATMs are still dispensing old naira notes, which suggests that the CBN and banks are not speaking the same language regarding the circulation of the redesigned naira notes.
Although some banks, like the United Bank for Africa (UBA), have announced that their ATMs have commenced dispensing the new naira notes, a lot of others are still stuck with the old ones.
The situation has created doubt in the minds of the public that the CBN deadline will be successfully met across the country. With the challenge of the new naira rejection still in play, many have called on the central bank to extend the deadline.
The distribution of the new naira notes were originally billed to take effect from 15 Dec 2022, but it has taken nearly a month.