By G9ija

Salihu Lukman, the National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the North-West region, has raised alarm over the Central Bank of Nigeria’s new Naira swap policy.

He reported that there are more than 300 local governments in Nigeria, particularly in the North, that have no access to financial institutions. This is a major concern, as individuals and businesses in these areas will have difficulty conducting financial transactions and obtaining financial services.

Salihu Lukeman made this known In a statement titled “Cashless Economy and Presidential Cabal” released in Abuja on Thursday.

Salihu Lukman’s statement of concern comes just a day after the Supreme Court temporarily suspended the Federal Government’s and Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) plan to ban the use of old Naira notes beyond February 10, 2023.

In light of the recent interim injunction granted by a seven-member panel led by Justice John Okoro, which allows the use of old N200, N500, and N1000 notes beyond the February 10 deadline until the case is fully resolved, the National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the North-West region has highlighted a major concern.

Salihu Lukman pointed out that only about 39% of Nigerians have bank accounts and that more than 300 out of the 774 local governments in the country have no access to banking services.

The statement read, “With national elections few days away and deliberate cash squeeze enforced by a deliberate policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerians are today faced with the most uncertain of times.

“This assumes that citizens have bank accounts and that bank branches exist in every part of the country. The reality, however, is that only about 39 per cent of Nigerians have bank accounts. More than 300 out of the 774 Local Governments in the country have no bank branches or cash centres.

“These records suggest the need to take extra steps to strengthen the banking system in the country to meet up with the new demands that will be occasioned by the new policy.

“It will clearly require contingency measures to expand the banking system, such that citizens could exchange the old notes in locations that don’t have bank branches or cash centres such as ATMs. Given that the International Monetary Fund in November 2021 reported that Nigeria’s banks closed 234 branches and 649, ATMs, should have given a strong warning that the principles of ceteris paribus (all conditions remaining the same) would translate to failure for the new policy.” He added.