The cash swap policy in Nigeria has no doubt unleashed untold hardship on its citizens.
While many would refer to it as abrupt, unwarranted and inconsiderate, some others believe that for the new cash usage implementation to be successful, drastic measures should be in place.
However, the cry and lamentation of Nigerians have been taken into consideration by the government, hence, a new extension deadline has been pronounced.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday approved the deadline extension for the old naira notes retrieval by another 60 days after cash shortages struck outrage ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections next week.
Unfortunately, this extension goes for only the old N200 notes. According to President Buhari, old N200 banknotes will circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes from the 10th of February to 10th of April 2023 when the use of the old N200 notes will be discontinued as they no longer will be recognized as legal tender.
In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos, financial experts commended Mr. President for the new update stating that the circulation of the old N200 notes will help to ease the suffering of the poor masses so that they run their daily business transactions with the old N200 notes alongside the new denominations.
Despite the fact that this new development will ease off the suffering of Nigerians to a large extent, it also implies that the old N500 and N1000 notes still remain unusable.
In the words of President Buhari, “In line with Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, all existing old N1000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at the CBN and designated points”.
The Professor of Capital Market at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Prof. Uche Uwaleke pointed out the need for the central bank of Nigeria to ensure an increased supply of lower denominations and also increase the cash withdrawal limit to at least N100,000 adding that Point of Sale (PoS) machines should be made available, especially by petrol stations as many of it currently in use are malfunctioning.
“I think it’s a welcome development,” said Dr. Boniface Chizea, Managing Director of BIC Consulting Services, emphasizing that it will stop people from buying votes while indulging CBN to accept responsibility and ensure that it detects where obstacles lie and remove them, even if the obstacle is the underestimation of the new banknotes printed and released into the system, more notes should be printed and circulated.
Despite this pronouncement being heartwarming and soothing considering the plight of the masses, many have reacted to it with mixed feelings.
A professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Uyo, Prof Akpan Ekpo spoke out on how extending the use of only the old N200 notes for 60 days will not solve the problem of people, declaring that the position of the president is not fully reassuring.
He said the way forward is to allow the old denominated notes to be used alongside the new notes and as banks get the old notes, they keep them, and then later, the central bank can exchange them.
Meanwhile, many traders and owners of some retail outlets have expressed joy over the extension of the use of the old N200 notes reiterating that it will allow their business to come back to how it was before the cash swap policy.
While some others recounted how they suffered from depositing old notes and have vowed not to adhere to the new directives by collecting old notes from customers.
However, President Muhammadu Buhari assures Nigerians that his administration will continue to assess the implementation with a view to ensuring that Nigerians are not unnecessarily burdened.