…to avert ‘heavy discomfort’

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for the validity of old naira notes.

So have the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Arewa Youths for Development and National Unity (AYDNU).

There has been increased tension in the country as Nigerians scramble to meet the deadline amid perceived poor circulation of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes.

This has led to several calls for the extension of the January 31 deadline — but the CBN has insisted that for good reason, it will not shift ground.

In a broadcast on Saturday, Atiku, the PDP’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming elections said a lot of people, particularly those in remote areas, will be unable to meet the deadline.

He asked for “a slight extension”, adding that it will be magnanimous of the government to ease the burden on Nigerians.

“The ongoing policy of the CBN to redesign the naira has generated wide reactions across the country and beyond,” he said.

“This exercise is a worldwide practice and therefore, not new. Especially as the January 31st deadline draws closer, a great number of Nigerians, out of good conscience, have expressed apprehension about how the deadline will make life more difficult for a large number of Nigerians.

“The large number of unbanked population who do their businesses, especially in the rural area, will find it almost impossible to meet up with the deadline of January 31st to exchange their old bank notes for the redesigned currency.

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“I’m aware of the challenges that farmers and others, like artisans, in remote areas of the country go through in moving cash from remote areas to commercial banks for conversion.

“On this note, I’m compelled to align my position with the upsurge of demands for a slight extension of the monetary conversion policy.

For its psrt,the ACF, in a statement issued on Saturday by Murtala Aliyu, secretary-general of the forum, expressed concern that citizens, especially those in the north, may lose money if the deadline is not extended.

“As the deadline for the exchange expires this coming Tuesday, we are afraid that majority of our people in the rural areas are unable to change their old currencies for the new ones. This is because even in the urban centres, the new notes are scarce,” the statement reads.

“Also, where the CBN made some arrangements to facilitate such, the exercise is being challenged by numerous factors, such as lack of adequate access to bank services on the part of the people, cumbersome exchange procedure, etc.

“This has subjected innocent people to hardships, uncertainty and anxiety.

“We are of the strong belief that ordinary people, especially in the North, will lose their hard-earned money through no fault of theirs.

“Government must be sensitive to the plight of the citizens to safeguard their interests in all areas.
“Insinuations by some political actors that the exercise is designed deliberately to fail, or cause chaos to sabotage the ongoing democratic process should not be allowed to be proven.”

The forum also called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN “to, as a matter of urgency, extend the expiration date of the exercise and improve on the arrangements so as to accommodate everyone with genuine cases”.

The Arewa Youths for Development and National Unity (AYDNU) have expressed similar sentiments.