By John Ikani
Nigerians have been given a clear ultimatum by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to exchange their old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes for new ones before January 31st, 2023, or risk having them become useless.
This warning was issued by CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, during a press conference following the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held in Abuja on Tuesday.
The CBN’s decision to redesign the three banknotes was made in October 2022, with President Muhammadu Buhari, officially unveiling the new designs on November 23rd, 2022.
The deadline for the exchange of old notes for new ones was set for January 31st, 2023.
Emefiele highlighted that since the redesign of the three banknotes, cases of kidnapping and ransom-taking have reduced significantly, which he believes is a sign that the new notes are doing their job.
To boost circulation of the new notes, the CBN has also directed commercial banks to halt over-the-counter payment of the new notes and load their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with the redesigned naira notes.
In additionally, the apex bank has launched a nationwide cash swap program to enable those in unbanked areas to exchange their old notes for new notes before the deadline.
However, many Nigerians have expressed concerns over the slow spread of the new notes, with the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum calling on the CBN to extend the deadline to give more Nigerians the chance to get their hands on the new notes.
Nonetheless, the CBN has held firm on its January 31st deadline, urging the public to take advantage of the available time to exchange their old notes for new ones.
“We understand that change can be difficult, but we believe that this is a necessary step for the betterment of our economy.
“We urge the public to come forward and exchange their old notes for new ones before the deadline. Let’s work together to make this transition as smooth as possible,” said Emiefele.
As the deadline approaches, it remains to be seen whether the public will heed the CBN’s call, or if the bank will ultimately be forced to extend the deadline.
One thing is for sure, the clock is ticking and time is running out for Nigerians to exchange their old notes for new ones.