NIGERIANS in the Diaspora have been excluded from the ongoing cash swap programme launched by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and are left stranded with the old banknotes as no provision has been made to accommodate them in the programme.
The cash swap programme is part of efforts by the CBN to fast-track on its naira redesign initiative by facilitating the circulation of the new naira notes, especially across local government areas and unbanked communities in Nigeria through agency banking that allows banks to offer their banking services without having traditional branches in areas that do not have easy access to financial services.
Governor of the CBN Godwin Emefiele, disclosed last December that more than 80 per cent of the currency in circulation was outside the vaults of commercial banks and that the naira redesign policy would aid cash mop-up.
“The integrity of a local legal tender, the efficiency of its supply as well as its efficacy in the conduct of monetary policy are some of the hallmarks of a great Central Bank.
“We believe that redesigning the N200, N500 and N1000 bank notes, will certainly reduce the cost of cash management, reduce the volume of cash in circulation, disrupt counterfeiting activities and enhance the adoption of digital and electronic transactions,” Emefiele said.
Reacting to the cash swap programme, some Nigerians in the Diaspora have lamented the lack of provision for them to also exchange their old banknotes for new ones, as the CBN has announced that all old N1000, N500 and N200 notes would cease to be legal tender after February 10.
A Nigerian residing in the United States, Colin Udoh, has asked the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) to intervene in the situation as many Nigerians abroad are stuck with old banknotes with nowhere to exchange them.
“I have some old naira notes with me. So far, I haven’t seen or heard of any plans by the Central Bank of Nigeria for folks in Diaspora with old naira notes to exchange theirs,” Udoh said.
Another Nigerian in the Diaspora, Johanna Fadeyi, explained that many Nigerians abroad have what they call “loose change” that can range between N1000 and N100,000, which they use to sort out expenses at the airports since Nigeria was still largely a cash economy.
Responding to the appeal, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NIDCOM Abike Dabiri-Erewa expressed utter surprise to hear that Nigerians abroad were in possession of naira notes.
Tweeting with her official handle @abikedabiri she wrote: “Do Nigerians in Diaspora keep or spend Naira notes abroad? Am I missing something??”
Dabiri-Erewa’s reaction confirmed that more than 17 million Nigerians living abroad were not considered in the naira redesign policy.