Kwankwaso disagrees with Buhari on old naira note deadline

Rabiu Kwankwaso, the presidential candidate of the New Nigerian Political Party (NNPP), has criticised the extended deadline of the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, saying it is not enough.

As a guest on Channels TV Sunrise Daily on Thursday, Kwankwaso said the government should instead extend the deadline by six months.

“Actually, we in the New Nigerian Political Party (NNPP) are not comfortable with the three months, not even with the 10 days they are talking about,” he said.

“You see, many people in Abuja who are in the comfort of their offices or homes wouldn’t understand what is happening outside. Those of us who now have the opportunity to travel around the country, from village to village, town to town… are in contact with the people, and over the years I had many opportunities to meet and interact with the people, and not only that.”

He explained that he was the first government in Nigeria to introduce an electronic payment system in the country, noting that the federal government could have borrowed from his experiences before implementation.

“We were the first government to start e-payment in this country,” he said.

“And when we took the decision to start, we realised that we had serious issues. These issues had to do with the banks themselves. At the time, many of our local governments had no single bank, and therefore, before we started the implementation, we had to go to the central bank to register 37 microfinance banks to make it easier for people in those local governments to ensure that our facilities are there for them.

Read also: Redesigning naira now does not make political, economic sense – El-Rufai

“Now if you ask them for three months, even before the information reaches them, it is very difficult.”

However, he disagreed further with the CBN extension, basing his argument on an aspect of the CBN act that states “that people should at least be given six months” for a currency swap to be functional.

He said, “For me, six months is even a short period of time, especially when you take our circumstances into account. Even people in Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, and other places… Look at what is happening in other places; they go there, they waste all their time, they give numbers, and before they get halfway through, the money would have been finished.

“So you see, government should be in place to sort out issues for its people, not inflict unnecessary hardship. And the government should have an agenda right from day one; these are things that should have started earlier.

“Now we know from the NBS that we have more than 133 million poor people in this country. These are people that are struggling to earn their living; these are people who are law-abiding; they are not bandits; they are not criminals. So why should you come with this?”

He rebuffed the claim by the government that the policy was intended to frustrate the political elite. “The leaders don’t know that many of our colleagues, especially those contesting the presidential election, and by extension, are owners of the banks,” he said. “Not only that, but people who are close to them have banks everywhere, and so they would lose nothing.”

President Muhammadu Buhari gave the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) a nod on January 29, 2023, to extend the deadline of the old naira notes by ten days to February 10, 2023.

According to the CBN, the goal was to clean up the already-excess cash in circulation, combat terrorism and money laundering, combat inflation, and encourage the use of electronic cash rather than physical cash for transactions.

Consequently, many Nigerians have been complaining about the non-availability of new or old naira notes at many Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), banks, and even POS operators. The untold hardship brought about by the poor circulation of cash has made many Nigerians adjust their lifestyles to accommodate the new reality.


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