With few days to the December 15 2022 date set for the release of the newly redesigned banknotes, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has revealed that all banks across the country have received the new notes and should begin to disburse them.
He stated this after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in his home town in Daura yesterday. Emefiele also disclosed that over N1 trillion has so far been pulled back into the banking system since the apex bank announced the redesign of the N200, N500 and N1,000 notes in October.
Although, he had announced that the disbursement of the new notes to the public is to commence on December 15 which is next week Thursday, Emefiele says “only yesterday, the new currency has now reached the banks and we expect that the banks will now begin to distribute those currencies to their customers.”
Stating that the apex bank is more than prepared for the transition from the old notes to the new ones within the stipulated period, he stated that “I said December 15 when we announced it. We said that will be when we issue the cash but we have to move it forward as the president unveiled it on November 26 and yesterday, the banks received the new cash and will start dispensing them.
“I can assure everyone that it will go round but let us be calm and be patient. Luckily the old currency continues to be legal tender until January 31 2023. both the painted and unpainted will be legal tender and by January 31 unpainted ones will not be useful to you.”
Whilst assuring that the CBN is not out to target anyone with its policy, Emefiele said over N1 trillion has so far been pulled back into the vault of the apex bank as well as commercial banks. “At the CBN we have taken more than half a trillion and the banks will also have around half a trillion what we have done is to move more people into currency processing so that we can process as quickly as possible.”
On the recent cashless policy in which it placed restrictions on cash withdrawals, the CBN governor said “It is important for me to say that the cashless policy started in 2012 but on almost three to four occasions we have had to step down the policy because we felt that there is a need for us to prepare ourselves and deepen our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.
“Between 2012 and now which is about 10 years, we believe that a lot of electronic channels have been put in place that would aid people in conduction banking and financial transactions in Nigeria. We have heard people talk about the people in the rural areas, the truth is that even online banking is working even in Daura. On our way here, I saw a kiosk that has super-agent in Daura because of the way we felt that there is a need to deepen payment system infrastructure. We have 1.4 million super agents that are all over the country, in all local governments and all villages and I have told my collogues, we are going to publish all the names of all the super agents.
“Having super agents which is different from the banks and different from MFBs other financial institutions, having 1.4 million of them is as good as saying we have 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct banking services and we think that Nigeria as a big country and the biggest economy in Africa, that we need to leap frog into the cashless economy.
“We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 per cent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the banks. More and more countries that are embracing digitization have gone cashless and I have said it at different fora that this is not targeted at anybody. It is just meant for the good and development of the Nigerian economy. “Mr Emefiele said the CBN will not be rigid in its policy stance and will be willing to make changes where necessary. “We can only just continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it. We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because we are not going to be rigid but it is not to say that we will reverse, or change timing but whether it is about tweaking some amount to be a little bit higher or lower, we will do so because we are human and we want to make life good for our people.
“We do not want to make life difficult for them, there is no need for anyone to worry, the CBN is monitoring what is happening and I can assure everyone that we are alive to our responsibilities and we will do what is right for Nigeria and Nigerians.”