Bello Idris Galadi
With greatest respect and a deep sense of humility, I write you this letter on behalf of all Nigerians, in the discharge of my civic duty under Section 24(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended).
Let me first of all commend you for the Naira Redesign Policy. It is laudable and a sound economic policy. If it is properly executed, it can address the issue of vote buying, kidnapping and other criminal tendencies. I personally appreciate your commitment on the project.
Sir, two (2) issues attracted my attention from your Press Statement of 29th January, 2023.
First, in Paragraph 6(c), you said: “We deployed 30, 000 Super Agents nationwide to assist in our Cash Swap Initiative in the hinterlands, rural areas, and regions underserved by banks in the Country to ensure that the weak and vulnerable ones amongst us can swap/ exchange their old notes”.
In Zamfara State for instance, the Super Agents you deployed are either not available or not functional.
I most humbly implore you to investigate this situation. The most important criteria for the deployment of the Super Agents shall be competence, dedication, capacity, commitment and determination to carry out the task. The swap/ exchange process of the old naira notes shall be simple and straight- forward.
Second, in Paragraph 7(ii) of the same Press Statement, you said: “A 7- day grace period, beginning on February 10 to February 17, 2023, in compliance with Section 20(3) and 22 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act allowing Nigerians to deposit their old notes at the CBN after the February deadline when the old currency would have lost its Legal Tender Status”.
On the strength of that paragraph, it entails that, after February 17 2023, CBN cannot redeem the old naira notes.
With greatest respect sir, you misconceived the law. A careful perusal of Sections 20(3) and 22 of the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 2007 leads to the irresistible conclusion that CBN can redeem the old notes at ANY TIME.
In essence, the law allows the CBN to receive the old notes and swap it for the new notes at any given time once it is demanded. The currency to lose its legal tender status is one thing, and redeeming the currency is another. They are two (2) separate things and clearly distinguishable.
In my little understanding, from February 10 2023, when the old naira notes would have lost its legal tender status, CBN is obligated to redeem the old notes until such a time when there is no demand for redeeming from anybody. In other words, whoever approaches the CBN with old notes for swap AT ANY TIME, the CBN is duty bound to collect and swap for the new notes. Put differently, the old naira notes can cease to be legal tender, but it SHALL never expire, ONCE it is presented to the CBN.
I hereby most humbly implore you to put the necessary mechanism in place to enlighten the general public of their right of redeeming.
Another serious dimension of the demonetization policy is the insufficiency of the new naira notes in circulation. You need to address this problem urgently. All ATM Machines throughout the country should be functional 24/7 and should dispense the new naira notes. You must take the necessary steps to arrest and prosecute all corrupt bank officials who engage in hoarding the new naira notes. You need to do whatever it takes to reduce the current tension and suffering being faced by the common man in consequence of the demonetization policy.
Another serious issue worthy of your consideration is the way and manner some people decline to accept the old naira notes as a means of payment even though the validity period still subsists. As a patriotic citizen, you need to address this challenge.
As long as the old naira notes remain a legal tender in Nigeria, citizens are duty bound under the law to accept it as a means of payment. Section 20(5) of CBN Act 2007 has criminalizes the act of refusing to accept the naira as a means of payment and provided a penalty of N50, 000.00 (fifty thousand naira only) or six (6) months imprisonment.
I am most grateful for your attention. Remain blessed sir.
Galadi is a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Gusau Branch (covering Zamfara State). He is the President of Bello Galadi Foundation.
He can be reached on:
firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
1st February, 2023