Senator Ndume warns against old naira deadline, says poor, middle-income Nigerians will suffer

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The Senator representing Borno South District, Ali Ndume, has warned against the economic implications of the January 31, 2023, ultimatum on the old N200, N500, and N1,000 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The CBN had announced the policy in October when it made public its plans to redesign the naira bills, followed by the introduction of weekly limits for over the counter (OTC) cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities to N100,000 and N500,000, respectively.

This sparked public outcry which prompted a review of the limits to N500,000 and N5 million for individuals and corporate entities, respectively.

Speaking on Friday, Ndume reiterated the position of the World Bank that “vulnerable Nigerians, including low- and middle-income earners, would be victims of the policy owing to the arguably short three-month notice”.

Ndume said, “For me, the way they are going about it is the problem. And as I said, my own motion is simple and it was Nigerians’ motion, it was not my motion. For me, this change of money, withdrawal, and all that does not bother me.”

“But it bothers the people that I represent and Nigerians in general. Nigerians will suffer. We had this experience in 1984 and I was lecturing at the polytechnic then. It’s not even the CBN that matters. He (Emefiele) is an appointee of the president. The CBN governor is a glorified cashier of the government: ‘Pay!’ He pays. ‘Do this.’ He does it.”

“But the truth of the matter is that the president must be made to understand that majority of Nigerians that are poor or middle-income will be the victims, especially in the North where we don’t have banks and our people move from market to market with raw cash with no banks.”

He further highlighted the imminent hardship resulting from the policy which he said would impact several disadvantaged Nigerians, particularly in rural communities.

According to him, “We have 27 local governments. You can only find banks in five or six LGAs. The rest of the 20 to 21 have no banks at all right now”.

“Those banks that were operating there before were closed or even destroyed by the insurgents. And some of the areas don’t have any network, so it’s not easy to even do transactions with PoS (point-of-sales terminals).”

“Besides that, I only saw the new notes myself as a Senator on Wednesday, when I raised the motion, and I told my colleagues that I had not even seen the new notes. The policy is good. From time to time, you need to do that. But when you do it, you don’t do it to hurt anybody or target anybody.”

Recall that the Senate had urged the CBN on Wednesday to extend the deadline to June 30, 2023, following a motion by Ndume.

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