As the January 31 deadline given by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, for withdrawal of the old naira notes draws nearer, the former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume has lamented the absence of the newly redesigned notes in circulation, saying that as a serving member of the upper legislative chamber, he has not seen the new notes.
Senator Ndume said that if the nation’s apex bank did not extend the deadline, the majority of Nigerians would suffer the consequences of the action.
speaking to Vanguard in Abuja, the Senator representing Borno South Senatorial District of Borno State also condemned people who attach political colouration to the redesigning of naira and warned that not every good policy of the government should be subjected to unnecessary politics.
Asked his take on the feasibility of the January 31 deadline, he said, “No, the date is not feasible, that’s why I moved a motion on the floor of the Senate requesting the CBN to extend the deadline for the exchange of the old notes with the new one to June 30.
“What we’re waiting is for the CBN to announce the extension. But up to now, they have not done that. And the most unfortunate part of it again, is that the new notes are not even available for exchange. And one week before the deadline, people started rejecting the old notes, especially in the rural areas, the economic activities have been put to a halt also to strangulated. I’m still thinking that the CBN will do something.”
Further asked what he thinks is the merit of the naira redesign policy, Senator Ndume said, “From time to time in order to control the economy effectively, and in order to remove all the issues that sabotage the economy, especially in terms of printing, notes, fake notes, and all that putting them in circulation, or controlling the money in circulation. This is a good policy, but the timing, as I said is wrong.”
On why some people criticize the policy, he said, “The time limit is short, especially when we don’t have adequate banking coverage in the country. I think the other measures that the CBN has put in place, especially like the cash withdrawal limit take care of what they fear, or at least they should make the new notes available before you now talk about the deadline. You can be talking about the deadline when the new notes are not available.
“I as a senator have not seen I only saw the new note once in December when I moved the motion and I said I have not seen the money. One of my colleagues showed me 1000 Naira notes, I have been withdrawing money from the bank since then, and have never gotten new notes from the bank. Even on Friday, I made withdrawal from the bank, and they gave me old notes. And then surprisingly, now I heard that in some places now, they are not receiving old notes. So in other words, the CBN deadline has actually been implemented in most places this is going to cause economic chaos.”
He said that it was wrong for some people to accuse the CBN of playing politics with the new policy, adding, “The whole life of Nigeria or any policy should not be subjected to politics every time. You talk about Nigeria, you talk about politics there are more Nigerians that are not involved in this politics than the Nigerians that are involved in it. Why would you be subjecting every policy to politics the political offices that are available are up to one million. And we are over 200 million.
How can we be talking about one million people while about 190 million people will be affected negatively? So why would you be talking about politics, it’s not about politics, it’s about the economy, how it will affect the people, how it will affect the common man, how it will affect the small, small petty traders in the villages. Some of them don’t even know about this politics. And this is the biggest problem we have in this country. Every time you talk about issues that are very, very important that affects human life, then you turn it to politics”