Mrs. Ama Ezekiel was close to tears as she lamented the nearness of the January 31st deadline for circulation of the old Naira note in the country, calling on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to listen to public outcry and extend the date.
Ezekiel was among many traders present at the Sensitization of
Stakeholders on the Currency Redesign organized by the CBN at Mile One Market, Diobu in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
The fresh tomatoes seller, who interspersed her speech with Pidgin English, said she was not against redesigning of the currency, but frowned at the time line given for expiration of the old notes, insisting that its certainly not feasible.
The woman who caused a stir at the event following her push for the microphone, took a ‘bet’ with the CBN officials stressing that the deadline would be extended as she claimed that “I know Nigeria very well’.
“I will say my own hoha! I am saying that it won’t work because each time I have gone to the banks to deposit the old notes and requested for the new ones, they still give me the same old notes in return. When I protested that they should give me the new money, their response is that they do not have the new money.
“What do the banks expect us to do with these old notes? Should they be eaten as food or should we use them to design clothes? If government goes ahead to stop the use of the old notes by end of this month, we would all becoming beggars. I am sure that is what government wants, for us to carry plates in hands and beg them for food”, she said.
Mrs. Ezekiel also wondered what would happen to her business if she could not be given the new Naira notes to enable her restock her shop, and called on the CNB to extend the deadline January 31, 2023 deadline as a matter of urgency.
In the same vein, Mr. Bright Chinedu who trades on noodles at the Mile One Market, lamented the unavailability of the new notes at the banks.
According to him, he had for the past days cashed out over three
hundred thousand Naira both at the banking hall and at ATM, regretting that in all the transactions, only N20,000 was added as the new Naira note.
“When I complained, I was told that the CBN have not brought
sufficient new notes to the bank. Please, CBN should ensure to send all the new notes to the banks if we must take their sensitization serious”, Chinedu said.
An elderly trader, who simply introduced herself as Boma asked to know if the new redesigned Naira notes would curb what she said is scamming of her money in the banks. “As far as I am concerned, Bank charges have become scams because you see them repeatedly sending one and the same charge every day. I am begging the CBN to call all the banks to order over this daylight robbery”, she said.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Branch Controller of the CBN, Mr. Maxwell Okafor said officials of the body is at the Mile One Market sensitize the traders on the new redesigned note which is in the denominations of 200, 500 and 1000 notes, and to let Nigerians know that the CBN would not backtrack on the January 31st, 2023 expiration deadline for the circulation of the old notes.
“Anyone who still has the old note should as a matter of urgency go to the banks and deposit them and collect the new notes. We don’t want anyone to lose his money. But you may be losing your money if you allow the old notes to remain with you until January 31, 2023. Please go and put them in the bank and get the new ones”, he said.
The CBN Branch Controller said it became expedient for the old notes to be redesigned following the unwholesome stacking of the currencies at unconventional speaces by unpatriotic citizens, adding that it is also the rule to redesign national currencies every five to eight years.
“Some people have stolen government money to the extent we hear they are stacking them at unknown places. If you observe, many of the old notes you get from the ATM points are so dirty, and so there is need to change them so we have clean notes. It is also targeted at criminals like kidnappers who collect huge amounts of money. By the time we are done, these monies will become useless in their hands”, he said.
The Deputy Director, Strategy Management Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Emenike Eleonu, while speaking to reporters during a spot check on some banks around the Mile One Market area, called on traders and other stakeholders to disregard insinuations that the new Naira notes are fake.
Mr. Eleonu commended some banks visited for dispensing the new notes through their ATM machines while assuring that the new notes would be sent to banks in good numbers to enable them meet customers demands before the January 31, 2023 deadline.