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Atiku backs Emefiele, insists Naira swap deadline shouldn't be extended

Atiku charged the CBN to evaluate the measures it has put in place for ensuring the seamless circulation of the redesigned currency.

Atiku Abubakar

Recall the apex bank had on Sunday, January 29, 2023, announced a 10-day extension of the deadline to allow more Nigerians, especially those in rural areas, to exchange their old naira notes before they cease to be legal tender.

But, many Nigerians including some influential members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party have raised the alarm over the continued scarcity of the redesigned currency and called for further extension of the deadline to avoid the wrath of the masses who have been feeling the biting effect of the new currency policy.

Although the CBN Governor, while appearing before a House of Representatives Committee on Tuesday, January 31, 2023, gave the assurance that holders of the old notes would still be able to lodge them with the CBN after the deadline, many people are still skeptical about the entire situation.

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Reacting to the development via a statement by his campaign team in Abuja on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, Atiku explained why the CBN shouldn't grant a further extension after the February 10 deadline.

He, however, charged the apex bank to immediately review its measures geared towards the seamless circulation of the new naira notes.

The statement read: 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.

“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.

“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-centred and must not bring an avoidable difficulty to the people.

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“However, the CBN should be wary of the elite whose motive for crying out about more postponement of the deadline for the tenure of the old naira notes 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 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 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. 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.

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“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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