CURRENCY SWAP DEADLINE: Reason CBN Bowed To Pressure

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Emefiele and Buhari

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, finally bowed to pressure on Sunday after vowing not to extend the January 31 deadline for the swap of the old naira notes.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, last Tuesday, at a meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee in Abuja, ruled out the postponement.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have good news for those who say we should shift the deadline. We do not see any reason to begin to talk about a shift. We believe 100 days is more than adequate,” Emefiele had said.

It was gathered that security reports indicated that Nigerians were increasingly furious over the non-availability of the new naira notes.

The anger grew as people in the informal sector which has the highest population of workers – market men and women, traders, artisans, farmers, transporters, hawkers, etc, complained of slow sales and patronage.

A source said the Federal Government and the CBN had no choice but to bow to the masses who may decide to revolt.

“I don’t know why they delayed the shift till now, it should have been before the weekend. See how everyone was panicking about the cash shortage.

“On Friday, Muslims were complaining that the government was starving them of money. Today, some Pastors openly expressed frustration that people are getting stranded.

“So religious leaders, their followers, and others are not happy with the CBN. Look at all the pressure and criticisms from all corners. Security reports favoured an extension,” he disclosed.

A survey in Lagos by DAILY POST confirmed the challenges people had to bear in the past week in efforts to withdraw from Automated Teller Machines, ATMs.

It was discovered that many banks across the State limited the withdrawal limit for cards owned by other banks to as low as N4,000.

Residents living on the Mainland and Island confirmed the adjustment, with one narrating the stress he went through before he was able to get money which was insufficient.

“I live in Lekki but the places to withdraw cash were few on Friday night. The branches available had only one ATM working with very long queues.

“I drove to VI and could only withdraw N4,000 from a Heritage Bank branch. They said that’s the limit for other banks. Since I use Zenith Bank, I went to their ATM Gallery on Ajose Adeogun.

“There you can withdraw up to N30,000 with their card but the limit for other banks is N5,000. I stayed in the queue but when it was almost my turn, there was no money left. Everyone left disappointed”, said Kingsley, a company staff.

The currency scarcity is compounded by the fact that Point of Sale, PoS, operators also do not have enough cash to cater for demands.

But the naira scarcity took another dimension when the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu declared that the situation was planned to reduce his electoral chances.

“Hide the petrol, hide the naira, we will still vote! We will win,” the former Lagos governor said last week at a campaign rally in Abeokuta, capital of Ogun.

“Even if you change the ink on naira notes, what you want will not happen. We will win. That umbrella party will lose. We will take this government from them, saboteurs that are dragging power with us.”

Despite saying “this government”, Tinubu later rubbished comments by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar that the outburst was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari and his administration.

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