The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) against further extension of the deadline for the exchange of the old naira notes after the expiration of the apex bank’s 10 February deadline.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, on Tuesday announced that commercial banks must accept the old Naira notes even after the 10-day grace period.
Atiku in a statement released in Abuja on Wednesday praised the CBN for considering the plight of Nigerians by extending the deadline.
However, he warned that another extension after the grace period will destroy the purpose and objective of the currency redesign.
“The additional ten days will enable our people in the rural areas and ordinary people across the country to take the naira in their possession into the banks. It will also enable the CBN to further circulate the new currency notes among banks so that people can have easy access,” the statement said.
The former Nigerian vice president also urged the bank to immediately review the measures it has put in place for ensuring the seamless circulation of the new naira notes to alleviate the hardship confronting ordinary people across the country, especially rural dwellers, who need cash for their daily transactions.
Since the CBN introduced the new notes, Nigerians have continued to lament the scarcity of the notes amid disruption in banking operations.
“Within these ten days, I urge the CBN to initiate measures that will alleviate the problems being encountered by the people in exchanging their old naira notes for new ones and getting more new notes into circulation. The CBN may have to consider printing more currency notes to eliminate the current scarcity among ordinary people, especially rural dwellers who need them for their daily transactions,” Atiku said.
“If the CBN thinks its officials and banks must operate at the weekend in order to address the needs of the ordinary people and rural dwellers, it may have to consider this option, after all the amount these people require is not huge.
“The essential element here is ensuring that the new currency goes around and is well distributed to the points where people can easily access them. Every good policy must be people-centered and must not bring an avoidable difficulty to the people.”
Atiku also warned the CBN to be wary of the elite whose motive for crying out about the postponement of the deadline is sinister and far from being altruistic.
“I am totally in support of building a cashless economy and reducing the amount of cash in our economy,” the statement said.
“The cashless policy and reduction of the cash in circulation has many advantages and every patriotic Nigerian should support the CBN on this. It will help to reduce the flow of illicit funds in our economy. It will help to defeat the funding of terrorism and deter the circulation of drug money in our economy. It will help our fight against corruption.
“More importantly, a cashless economy will help to save and grow our democracy. Those who have devised several means of buying votes in the coming elections and using money to corrupt the electoral system as well as destroying the principle of one man, one vote and the goal of a credible, peaceful, free, and fair poll are the ones shouting against the cashless policy and naira redesign”.
The PDP candidate alleged that “anti-democratic elements who are pretending to be democrats are the ones ganging up against the CBN” because of the currency redesigning and the cashless regime it seeks to enthrone.
He said: “They have been scheming and lobbying day and night to frustrate the policy. Now, their new measure is to lobby for a second postponement of the deadline for the change of currency. I urge the CBN and the government to ignore their antics. The CBN should not succumb to the current pressure.
“There should be no further postponement of the new naira regime after the expiration of the February 10 deadline. The vote riggers are seeking to push the CBN to extend till after the election when they would have achieved their evil plots. The CBN and the Presidency should be steadfast. The merits of the new naira policy far outweigh the little inconvenience we are experiencing.
“This is one policy that will benefit the country in the long term. We should not allow those selfish, parochial people with the narrow vision to derail it.”
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