By G9ija

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has said the recent release of three redesigned naira notes has somehow reduced kidnapping and ransom-taking by armed men.

The CBN governor, who spoke after the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, also said there is no going back on its January 31, 2023 deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes.

“Truly speaking, at the margin, I may be wrong, I think kidnapping and ransom-taking have somehow reduced. Security agents are doing a fantastic job.

“I think it (naira redesign) has slowed those people down because they know that if they collect old notes, nobody is going to collect it from them. So, it might as well as think of other ways,” he said.

Emefiele noted that the CBN remained focus on the weak and the vulnerable in the society and would attend to them even after the deadline to ensure they have the new notes.

The bank chief announced that the MPC raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), which measures interest rates from 16.5% to 17.5 percent to tame inflation.

He further stressed that no Nigerian is licensed to build bank vaults at home.

He said there is no reason for the nation’s currency in circulation to rise from N1.4 trillion to N3.2 trillion in seven years, saying that some persons are hoarding the naira and embracing currency speculation.

“There is no reason why currency in circulation will grow from N1.4 trillion to N3.2 trillion in seven years,” the CBN governor said.

“People are hoarding it, people are keeping vaults in their homes. We cannot allow them to be banks in their homes; they don’t have the license to build bank vaults in their homes.

“They should release that money back to CBN because what they are doing is that they are undermining monetary policy. They are keeping it and speculating against our currency and it is making our work difficult in CBN.”

‘1.4 Million Agents Available For Cash Swap’
Emefiele also said he recently met with the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governors Inuwa Yahaya (Gombe) and Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) and he told them that there is no going back on the January 31 deadline.

He said the CBN has 1.4 million super agents nationwide to collect old naira notes in exchange for new notes in riverine and upland areas, saying “money is going down and is circulating to the lower rung of the community”.

“We have 1.4 million points of our super agents; those agents are going to be available to conduct cash exchanges. The super agents are like kiosks, shops in your community, whether it is a riverine or upland area, they are there, selling sweets, selling kola nuts but they have been appointed as agents that will do cash exchange and cash swap for you. This, we have put in place,” he said.

‘CBN Agents In Areas Around Sambisa’
The bank chief further stressed that CBN agents are all over the country including areas around Sambisa in Borno State.

“I’ll give a few examples: we have some information and videos about our staff and agents how they are doing cash swaps in our communities. In areas like Baga, Monguno, Rann on the Lake Chad Basin, in Banki, Kirawa, Gwoza on the borders of Cameroon, Ngoshe, Bama, Chibok, Damboa, Ngala, Izge…all these are areas around the Sambisa. Our agents and our staff are all there conducting cash swap and exchanges of old to new currencies,” he said.

Emefiele also expressed hope that before the deadline, all the “noise” about scarcity of new notes would have subsided.

The CBN on October 26, 2022 had announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes. President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently unveiled the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes on November 23, 2022, while the apex bank fixed January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.

The CBN also pegged its weekly cash withdrawal limits to N500,000 for individuals and N5m for corporate firms.