Three weeks to the expiration in legal tender of the N200, N500 and N1000 old currencies, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it would be monitoring commercial banks to ensure they comply with the directive of loading the redesigned naira notes in their automated teller machines (ATMs).
The rested notes would cease to be legal tender from January 31. However, there are serious concerns of poor circulation of the notes across the country.
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The CBN Director, Currency Operations, Ahmed Umar, however, allayed, at a training session in Abuja on Monday, January 9 for State Directors, National Orientation Agency (NOA) on ‘Redesign of Currency Notes Policy’, the concern, with the reassurance that the apex bank had enough of the redesigned notes to go round.
Umar said, “We, CBN management, have mandated banks to stop putting old notes in their ATM machines. They should only put the new notes. There is serialisation of the policy that they can put either the N500, N1000 or N200 note – whichever the denomination they have or a combination of any of those notes, they should just put a new note in their machines.”
He warned that banks that failed to comply with the directive would be penalised, as the expiry date for the rested notes draws nearer.
He stated that long use of the old notes had created an avenue for the spread of counterfeit notes, fuelling unregulated currency flow.
“If you notice the N1000 note that was introduced in 2005, it took 17 years for us to redesign it. N500 and N200 notes were also redesigned after 21 years and 22 years respectively.
“If currency notes stay too long in the system, there is tendency that people who counterfeit make a lot of efforts to produce the same notes,” he said.
Another reason the apex bank gave for the redesign was that the N500 and N1000 notes constituted 99 per cent of the currency being targeted for counterfeiting.
“It is simple logic, the effort you put to counterfeit N1000 is the same effort you put to counterfeit N5. So, why will they waste their energy doing small notes; they always target the higher notes, particularly N1000 because of the values attached to it,” he said.
The Director-General of the NOA, Garba Abari, explained that the agency partnered with the CBN to educate NOA staff at the 774 local government areas to assist in enlightening Nigerians on the redesign policy.
Abari expressed hope that the training session would go a long way in addressing any misconception and misunderstanding around the policy.
He called on all participants to pay serious attention to the training in order to represent the CBN well in enlightenment programmes at the grassroots.
Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.