A civil society organization, Centre for Social and Economic Rights (CSER) has joined the legion of Nigerians and groups calling for an extension of the 31st January 2023 deadline on the redesigned naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
In a press statement released in Lagos today 29th January 2023 by it’s executive director Nelson Ekujumi, the group noted, “We are forced by the present stark reality of the chaos generated within the polity by the time frame of this policy, to join in the clarion call on the CBN to extend the redesign naira deadline by at least three months”.
According to CSER, we note with caution how this policy generated divergent views among Nigerians on the suitability and timing of it when it was announced on the 26th of October 2022 by the CBN Governor Mr. Godwin Emefiele. But we immediately keyed into the reasons for the birth of the policy because from deep introspection, it was absolutely necessary to arrest economic drift, security lapses, counterfeiting, etc of the Nigeria economy which it meant to address in the long run.
However, our observations and monitoring of the policy in the last three months via on-field research and mediums of communication, shows clearly that a vast majority of Nigerians both in the rural and urban centres are not adequately informed and sensitized on the nitty gritty of the policy and so rumour mongering, falsehood and misinformation became an albatross and constituted the greatest setback against the citizens buy-in into this laudable policy.
According to Nelson Ekujumi, “We are also very disturbed about the shortage and unavailability of the new naira notes at the dispensing points despite the blame game between the banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on who is responsible since the birth of the policy over three months ago and this has left us wondering just like millions of Nigerians, that, what is really going on here?”
We know for free that the banks exist for business activities to make profit and so we wonder what manner of a business entity (bank) that will refuse to dispense the new naira notes at it’s ATM’s that it incur operating costs, for which customers are charged for using that facility and will refuse to exercise it’s purpose and thus deny it of needed revenue to keep business floating in this dire economic times?
Specifically in the last one month based on our observation and monitoring, we at CSER have noted the pains and agony that Nigerians have had to endure in their daily business transactions as a result of the quest to access the new naira notes, more painful is the endless queues in the last one week at the banks dispensing points as well as the chaos generated between buyers and sellers of goods over the acceptability of the old naira notes which constitutes a threat to national security if not addressed now!
By the above observed shortcomings of non acceptability of old naira notes and the chaos generated in the polity, the threat to the function of money as a means of exchange is real and unacceptable.
The group stated that from it’s research and observation, “We can safely conclude that the Central Bank of Nigeria is solely responsible for the shortfall because it has not accessed enough new naira notes to the banks for them to exercise their functions effectively to the public and so are demanding an extension of time to address this observed and unambiguous anomaly”.
CSER then made it known that as it looks forward to a positive response of extension to it’s patriotic call just like that of several citizens and groups by the CBN, it aligns itself with the recent position of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) calling for an activation of section 20(3) of the CBN Act which mandates the apex bank to provide redeemable channel for holders of the old naira notes to redeem them even beyond the deadline date in order to save lives and avert economic catastrophy for our people and country.