By Dennis Erezi
Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar on Saturday said the deadline for the use of old naira notes is unrealistic and causing discomfort.
“The deadline is going to cause heavy discomfort for Nigerians,” Atiku said in a video tweet.
“It will be magnanimous for the Federal Government and the regulatory body to ease the burden of the people while we can continue to sensitise the public on the imperative of mobile banking policy.”
Atiku, who served as Nigeria’s vice president from 1999 to 2007, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to consider extending the Tuesday, January 31 deadline for citizens to deposit their old naira notes for the new ones.
“It is important for the CBN to consider an extension for the public to swap their old notes thereby reducing the financial consequences on these vulnerable citizens, I believe that such painful experience is not the intention behind the initiative,” Atiku said.
The PDP candidate’s statement was preceded by an affirmative refusal by CBN governor Godwin Emefiele to extend the deadline.
Emefiele last Wednesday said Nigerians had enough time to deposit the old notes to collect the new ones despite a shortage in supply for new notes by the banks.
“The reason is because we feel 100 days should be enough for those who have the old currency to deposit the money in the banks. And we took every measure to ensure that all the banks were open to receive all old currencies. 100 days, we believe, is more than adequate.”
Atiku is not alone in the plea for an extension of the CBN deadline. Fellow presidential hopeful Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) said it was insensitive for Nigerians to go through the stress related to exchanging old naira notes a few weeks before the general elections starting on Saturday, February 25.
Nigerian Senate during the plenary on Thursday urged the CBN to extend the deadline to July 31, citing fears that millions of Nigeria’s unbanked and rural dwellers may be hard done by if the initial date remains.
Kano State governor Abdullahi Ganduje for the same reason told President Muhammadu Buhari to postpone his visit to the state as he is “deeply concerned” about the hardship it is causing locals.
“There are no banks in most of our rural communities. How would the people get the new Naira notes is of great concern. Just look at what is happening in our urban areas, people go and spend hours upon hours in banks,” Ganduje said.
Meanwhile, Commercial banks in Nigeria have extended their workdays to weekends for customers to deposit their old naira notes.
First Bank of Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, and other financial institutions have notified customers to visit their branches on Saturday and Sunday to deposit old Naira notes.
“This is to notify the general public that our branches will be open Saturday and Sunday just to receive cash,” one of the banks said in a statement similar to what other financial institutions also sent to their customers.
“All old notes of series 200, 500 and 1000 will cease to be in use from the 31st of January.”
Source: The Guardian