Fear Nobody, You Have My Support, Buhari Tells CBN Gov

Apparently in reaction to concerns raised by some Nigerians on the redesign of the naira and the cash withdrawal limits set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, the apex bank governor, said President Muhamma­du Buhari is satisfied with the bank’s policies and has asked them not to fear any­body but implement them to the letter.

Emefiele, who said this in Daura on Thursday after a meeting with President Bu­hari on the state of the econ­omy and recent decisions taken by the bank, noted that “the president says he is happy and we do not need to fear about anybody and we should carry on”.

The CBN governor also gave hope to Nigerians that it may tweak cash with­drawal limits to meet the aspiration of the people.

He added that while the bank is ready to listen to the people, Nigerians should also see policies from the bank as part of ways to bring the economy back to shape.

He said, “We can only just 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 we are not going to be rigid but it is not to say that we will re­verse, or change timing but whether it is about tweak­ing some amount to be a little bit higher or lower, we will do so because we are hu­mans and we want to make life good for our people.

“We do not want to make life difficult for them, there is no need for anyone to worry, the CBN is monitor­ing what is happening and I can assure everyone that we are alive to our responsi­bilities and we will do what is right for Nigeria and Ni­gerians”.

On the timeline for the distribution of the new re­designed naira notes, Eme­fiele said the bank is more than prepared for Decem­ber 15.

“I said December 15 when we announced it. We said that will be when we issue the cash but we have to move it forward as the president unveiled it on November 26 and yesterday the banks have received the new cash and will start dis­pensing them.

“I can assure everyone that it will go round but let us be calm and be patient. Luckily, the old currency continues to be legal tender until January 31, 2023. Both the ‘painted and unpainted’ will be legal tender and by January 31 unpainted ones will not be useful to you”.

Speaking on his visit to President Buhari, Emefiele said it was part of the rou­tine exercise to brief him on the economy and other related issues.

“I am visiting the presi­dent as part of normal brief­ings which has been overdue and thought he should be briefed about what is hap­pening in the CBN, what is happening in the economy and generally recent hap­penings in the CBN.

“There are so many things happening, issues bordering on the new cur­rency and the fact that only yesterday the new curren­cy has now reached the banks and we expect that the banks will now begin to distribute those curren­cies to their customers and to assure the president as well as issues bordering on the cashless policy which we recently introduced”.

On the call by the Sen­ate for explanation on the withdrawal limits, Eme­fiele said, “As the legislative arm and from time to time we brief them about what is happening and about our policies and I am aware that they have asked for some briefings and we will brief them.

“It is important for me to say that the cashless pol­icy started in 2012, but on almost three to four occa­sions we have had to step down the policy because we felt that there is a need for us to prepare ourselves and deepen our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria.

“Between 2012 and now which is about 10 years, we believe that a lot of elec­tronic channels have been put in place that would aid people in conduction bank­ing and financial transac­tions in Nigeria. We have heard people talk about the people in the rural ar­eas, the truth is that even online banking is working even in Daura. I saw a ki­osk that has super agents today because of the way we felt that there is a need to deepen payment system infrastructure.

“We have 1.4 million su­per agents that are all over the country, in all local government areas and all villages and I have told my colleagues, we are going to publish all the names of all the super agents.

“Having super agents which is different from the banks and different from MFBs, other financial insti­tutions, having 1.4 million of them is as good as saying we have 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct banking services and we think that Nigeria as a big country and the biggest economy in Africa, that we need to leap frog into the cashless economy.

“We cannot continue to allow a situation where over 85 percent of the cash that is in circulation is outside the banks. More and more countries that are embracing digitisation have gone cashless and I have said it at different fora that this is not targeted at anybody. It is just meant for the good and development of the Nigerian economy”.

Balogun Damilola