Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has foreclosed the possibility of further extension of the deadline for phasing out old banknotes.
The deadline was earlier extended to February 10, 2023, plus a grace period of seven days amid scarcity of the new banknotes.
At a press conference in Lagos, yesterday, Emefiele admitted the hiccups in the implementation process. He, however, said he would not promise a “further extension.”
Rather than shifting the timeline, he said the bank was addressing “pressure areas” by redeploying cash where there were excesses.
The governor dismissed the enormous challenges as transient, promising that the issues would be overcome soon even as he urged Nigerians to embrace alternative payment channels.
To reduce the hardship on Nigerians, Emefiele said the apex bank would hold talks with telecommunications companies for possible suspension of charges on electronic transfer in the meantime.
“Electronic charges may be stopped. We will meet with telecom operators and other stakeholders to discuss how the charges could be stopped. It should be stopped,” he said.
He sought the understanding of Nigerians while decrying the vandalisation of bank facilities and attack on bankers. According to him, destroying bank facilities would worsen the situation.
Emefiele admitted that the process was being sabotaged by greedy individuals, adding that the apex bank and law enforcement agents would go after individuals spraying money at social events as well as bankers and officials working with them.
“Some people have been arrested. We will trace others. They must go to jail because what they are doing is a criminal offence,” he noted.
On the scarcity, he said: “CBN is aware of the difficulty being faced by Nigerians in accessing the new currency at this initial stages of its issue and circulation but wishes to plead with all to please show some understanding as everything is being done to correct some of the observed lapses in the implementation of this ambitious programme.”
The conference came on the heels of directive to banks to commence over the counter payment, capping the maximum limit at N20,000 daily.
Meanwhile, some banks were paying as little as N1000 yesterday as the officials decried low supply.