With just days to the January 31, 2023 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the return of old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes to the banks after which they will cease to be legal tender, many still say the new notes are yet to fully circulate particularly in the rural areas of the country.
To fast-track the infiltration of the new notes in the country, the CBN had last weekend issued a circular directing that banks, mobile money operators as well as super agents particularly in the rural areas embark on a swap of old notes for new ones up to the tune of N10,000 per individual effective form Monday January 23, 2023.
This is following reports and complaints by Nigerians that the January 31 deadline will need to be shifted, as banks as well as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are still dispensing the old notes.
A survey around Lagos had shown that while some are dispensing the new notes, some are dispensing a mixture of both new and old notes, just as some others are still dispensing the old notes.
In a chat with some Nigerians who spoke to me, they lamented that there is no reason for them to take the old notes to the banks if they are still going to get them back from the ATMs.
Mr Chuks, a trader in Lagos Island told me that after receiving the new notes from a Polaris Bank ATM, he noticed afterwards that he had been getting both new and old notes from other ATMs.
He explained that he had received a mixture of both old and new notes from a Wema Bank ATM and new notes from a First bank ATM. He however noted that while he had been seeing the new notes with people since the early days of this year, last week was the first time he personally got it from an ATM.
On her part, Fisayo, a University of Lagos student, said she had only received the new notes from one ATM. “Since last year when the new notes came out, I have not been getting it from the bank except for Monday, when I got it from an Access Bank ATM. I just made a withdrawal now from Access Bank ATM and I still got the old note”, she stated.
A cleric in one of the churches in Lagos, told me that they try to encourage their members willing to pay offering and tithes to do transfers, whilst also urging them to keep very little cash with them as the deadline approaches.
Despite calls for an extension of the deadline, the CBN has continued to insist that the January 31, 2023 deadline still stands.