Allow Old and New Notes for 6 Months — Reps

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Speaker house of rep and CBN governor

Since the new notes were not easily accessible, the House of Representatives yesterday requested that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, extend the deadline for usage of the old naira notes by at least six months.

The House’s ad hoc committee was formed to look into the causes of the dearth of the new notes, and it insisted that the chief executive officers of the nation’s banks must testify before it.

Both the old and new notes may be used until June, according to the lower parliamentary chamber, in accordance with the CBN Act.

The extension was required, according to Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, because there aren’t enough new notes in commercial banks. He made the announcement following a briefing by the ad hoc committee, which is working to resolve issues with the new naira notes and is led by House Leader Ado Doguwa.

He stated: “The House of Representatives recognizes the Central Bank of Nigeria’s, CBN, authority to determine the country’s legal tender and to recall currency with reasonable notice, subject to the approval of the President.

‘’The House is also aware that Section 20 (3) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act mandates the CBN to redeem the face value of the recalled currency upon demand, even after the expiration of the notice of recall.

“Notwithstanding the deadline imposed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, this House will see to it that this provision of the law is honoured in full.

“Let me explain that again. The Central Bank Act under section 20 allows the Central Bank to change the legal tender. But it also says that after the expiration date, such naira note changed will no longer be legal tender.

‘’But it says that 2, 3 to 5 months after, even in June, any old notes presented to the banks shall be redeemed by the banks. That point needs to be made to the Central Bank and to the public. It has not been made. It’s a provision of law.”

Gbajabiamila stated that when the polymer notes were launched in 2019, the CBN’s then-governor, Professor Charles Soludo, extended the deadline for retiring older naira notes.

“Gentlemen, if you recollect, in 2009 and 2010, the then governor of Central Bank, Professor Charles Soludo, introduced polymer notes and wanted to phase out N5, N10, N20, and N50 notes.

‘’There was public outcry because of the timing. At the end of the day, it was halted and what did he do? He did what all known Central Banks do all over the world. He allowed for those N50 notes to continue in existence, whilst he introduced his new naira notes until everything was mopped up by the banks.

“So, they were operating side by side for the good of the people. This is exactly what happened. And that is all this House is asking, either an extension or part-parse.

“Section 20 (3) of the CBN Act is perhaps what is most important right now. After the deadline, whilst the old notes are no longer legal tender, I cannot go to a supermarket, buy goods in the supermarket and bring out my old notes, It’s no longer a legal tender.

“Now, if the superman attendant decides to take it, all well and good. If he decides to take that money (old notes) to the bank a month later, the bank is under statutory obligation to accept it and redeem it at face value and that is the provision of the law as passed by the National Assembly.”

Gbajabiamila speaking with his coworkers stated that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, was traveling to Dakar, Republic of Senegal, along with President Muhammadu Buhari, and would not be available for the meeting. He claimed to have a letter from the CBN to support this claim.

The letter reads: “We refer to your letter referenced 25 January 2023, inviting the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele to appear before the House of Representatives on Thursday, which is today (yesterday), January 26, 2023.

“The governor is part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s delegation to Dakar, Republic of Senegal for the Feed Africa Summit from 25th to 27th January 2023.

“Accordingly, he has requested that we respectfully acknowledge his inability to honour the invitation on the scheduled date.

“The governor regrets this and requests that the chairman and the members of the committee be informed accordingly.

“Please, accept once again the governor’s highest consideration and warm regards.  That was signed by the deputy governor, corporate services.”

As a result, Gbajabiamila declared that the House will no longer adjourn yesterday as scheduled to allow the bank executives honor their invitation.

He announced that the House will now meet on Tuesday of the following week to ensure that the problem was finally handled.

The speaker urged the House to be patient with the lower chamber’s leadership.

“Gentlemen, please, it is a sacrifice, the Senate has gone on break, we are supposed to close the House so that everybody can go an prepare for an election in four weeks but we may need to make a day or couple of days sacrifice.

“Instead of adjourning this House till February 28 today, just to make sure we resolve this issue, we might need to come back next Tuesday morning.’’

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