The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it will not be rigid on cash withdrawal limits.
The Governor of the apex bank, Godwin Emefiele made the pledge in a chat with newsmen in Daura, Katsina State, after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the status of the economy and the performance of the bank.
Mr Emefiele said the policy on cash withdrawal limit was “not meant to hurt anybody”, but to “strengthen the nation’s economy”.
The CBN governor, who said President Buhari was “delighted” with the proposed enforcement of the cashless policy, appealed to Nigerians to embrace the policy as presented.
He attempted to allay fears being expressed in some quarters about difficulties that could face people in rural areas as a result of the policy, saying their situation has already been taken into cognisance, as 1.4 million super agents have been deployed across the country to “deepen the payment system infrastructure”.
“I have told my colleagues, some of their names are already on the CBN website and we will publish all the names of all the super agents,” he promised.
“Having a super agent, which is different from the banks which is different from microfinance banks, which is different from other financial institutions; having 1.4 million of them is as good as having 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct services,” he stated.
“We think, Nigeria as a big country, the biggest economy in Africa, that we need to leapfrog into the cashless economy,” the CBN governor continued. “We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85% of the cash that is in circulation is outside the bank. More and more countries that are embracing digitisation have gone into cashless.
“I said it at different fora, that this is not targeted at anybody; it’s just meant for the good and development of the Nigerian economy, and we can only continue to appeal to Nigerians to please see this policy the way we have presented it.
“We will be reviewing from time to time how this is working because I cannot say that we are going to be rigid. But it is not to say that we will reverse; it is not to say that we will change the timing, but whether it is about tricking some amount to be a little bit higher or a little bit lower, and all the rest of them. We will do so because we are humans, we want to make sure that we make life good for our people.
“We do not want to make life difficult for them. So there is no need for anybody to worry: the central bank is monitoring what is happening and I can assure everyone that we are up and alive to our responsibilities, and we will do what is right for Nigeria and Nigerians.”
Appealing for “calm”, Mr Emefiele assured Nigerians that “it will go round”.
“The old currency continues to be legal tender till January 31, 2023,” he stressed.
Attempting to “crack a joke”, the CBN governor added: “Both the painted (new notes) and unpainted (old notes) will operate concurrently as a legal tender. But by January 31, the unpainted one will not be useful to you again; so please take it to your bank as quickly as possible.”
On the amount of the old notes the Central Bank has been able to get back to the vaults, he said the Bank has so far taken in more than “half a trillion Naira”.
“But what we have done in the Central Bank is to move more people from different departments into currency processing so that they can process this cash as quickly as possible, and from there, banks can now move what they have with them,” he explained.
He harped on some of the issues “bothering the currency”, assuring Nigerians, at the same time, that “only yesterday, the new currency reached the (commercial)banks”, who are expected to begin distributing “these currencies” to members of the public who are their customers.
This, Mr Emefiele said, would assure President Buhari that things were “going on well” with the currency, as well as issues bothering the cashless policy.