Naira Scarcity: While Buhari keeps mum on deadline, NASS demands continued use of old, new notes

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While President Muhammadu Buhari keeps mum, hours before the deadline for the use of old naira notes, the leadership of the National Assembly has called for the continuous use of the old notes. Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila met with the president shortly after the end of Friday’s National Council of State meeting where they made their stance known.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Lawan told journalists that they had advocated the continued use of the old and new notes.“For us in the Senate, initially we felt that this policy is not a bad policy but we are also feeling that there is no need for any time limit; allow the old and the new to co-exist until the old is phased out,” the lawmaker said. “This is not going to be the first country to do it that way. Other countries have been doing it that way.

To say that in three months it will be okay, it is not okay. Especially in a country like ours where 80-90 per cent of the population have no access to banks.”The Central Bank of Nigeria fixed Friday, 10 February, as the deadline for the use of old naira notes.

President Buhari had assured Nigerians that he would review the situation and make a decision today, but hours before the deadline, he has yet to do so.However, the scarcity of the new notes has lingered with millions of Nigerians unable to access cash at banks and ATM points nationwide.

Court Order

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered the CBN not to put an end to the use of old naira notes on 10 February as earlier announced.The interim injunction order was issued by a seven-member panel of the apex court and was led by John Okoro amid an acute scarcity of the newly redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 currency notes.

The court gave the order temporarily based on an application filed by three northern states being controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC)––Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara States.

On Friday, Abubakar Malami, Nigeria’s attorney-general, said that the National Council of State has charged the central bank to do more to make the new naira notes available across the country.Relating to the Naira redesign policy, the policy stands but then the council agreed that there is need for aggressive action on the part of the CBN as it relates to the implementation of the policy by way of ensuring adequate provision being made with particular regard to the supply of the Naira in the system,” he said.

Mr Malami did not, however, say whether the council called for an extension of the 10 February deadline for the use of the old naira notes.

Abeeb Atanda

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