Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, says the CBN has super agents in locations around Sambisa to exchange old naira notes for new banknotes.
“We have 1.4 million points of our super agents; those agents are going to be available to conduct cash exchanges. The super agents are like kiosks, shops in your community, whether it is a riverine or upland area,” stated Mr Emefiele. “They are there, selling sweets, selling kola nuts, but they have been appointed as agents that will do cash exchange and cash swap for you. This, we have put in place.”
The CBN governor added, “We have some information and videos about our staff and agents doing cash swaps in our communities. In areas like Baga, Monguno, Rann on the Lake Chad Basin, in Banki, Kirawa, Gwoza on the borders of Cameroon, Ngoshe, Bama, Chibok, Damboa, Ngala, Izge…all these are areas around the Sambisa. Our agents and our staff are all there conducting cash swaps and exchanges of old to new currencies.”
Mr Emefiele disclosed this on Tuesday after the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in Abuja.
Last October, Mr Emefiele announced a plan to redesign Nigerian currency (the N200, N500 and N1,000 denominations), claiming over 80 per cent of the banknotes are hoarded.
The new N1,000, N500 and N200 bills became legal tender on December 15, 2022.
Mr Emefiele said the old notes would cease to be legal tender by January 31. However, the new notes have been scarce in circulation.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has summoned the CBN governor and bank operators following the scarcity of the new naira notes.
The bank operators are to appear on Wednesday, while Mr Emefiele will appear before the House on Thursday. This followed the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance by Sanda Soli (APC-Katsina) at the plenary on Tuesday.
In his motion, Mr Soli said that all over the world, currencies were being “phased out” and not “forced out.”
The lawmaker called for a review of the cashless policy, adding that CBN should ensure price stability. Although Mr Soli said the cashless policy was in tandem with global best practices, he added that most banks in Nigeria did not have what it takes to ensure that such was achieved.
He decried what he called the CBN’s refusal to listen to the cry of Nigerians for the extension of the January 31 deadline for depositing the old naira notes, stating that this might hurt the economy.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said as good as the policy was, the modus operandi and the timing were the problems.
“There is nothing wrong in reviewing a policy; banks are claiming they don’t have the new naira notes, while CBN is also claiming the banks have them,” he said.