March 24, 2023
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New Naira: Legislators Grill Mrs Aisha Ahmad Of CBN In The Absence Of Emefiele Who Is Abroad For Treatment


The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Aisha Ahmad, on Thursday, briefed the House of Representatives on the bank’s latest policies.

Mrs Ahmad represented the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who is currently out of the country attending to health challenges.

Background

The House had summoned the CBN governor over the cash withdrawal limit and the redesigning of the currency.

The CBN had on 6 December announced a new policy limiting over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities to N100, 000 and N500, 000, respectively, per week.

On Wednesday, the CBN announced a review of the policy with individual withdrawal limit now pegged at N500,000 weekly and organisations N5 million weekly.

The bank had redesigned N1,000, N500 and N200 bills, and fixed 31 January as the deadline for the old notes to cease to be legal tender.

Mr Emefiele had failed to honour two previous invitations of the House. On Wednesday, the lower chamber approved the request by the CBN to allow Mrs Ahmad, who is the deputy governor, Financial System Stability, to brief the House.

500 million Notes

While responding to questions raised by the lawmakers on the total amount of money printed, Mrs Ahmad said a total of 500 million mint notes were ordered by the bank, however, she was unable to provide the exact amount printed.

“I am unable to share that now, only because I want to give an accurate figure,” she said in response to a question raised Sada Soli (APC, Katsina) on the exact amount printed.

Despite her explanation, several members still raised the question of the total value of the new currency.

Babajide Obanikoro (APC, Lagos) asked how much the bank decided to print.

Similarly, Mark Gbillah (LP, Benue) asked Mrs Ahmad about the total cost of the printing, if the money was appropriated by the National Assembly and the total value of the new currency.

The inability of the CBN representative to answer the questions generated loud murmurs on the floor, prompting the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, to call for calm.

“The question was, how much was printed, and you (Mrs Ahmad) don’t have the exact figure. It is okay, she is giving her answers.

“…..honourable members, we are here for a briefing— we asked for a briefing. She has briefed us..You have asked your questions and she has answered the way— the question is, how much was printed? She does not know. You can’t force that out of her. She does not know. Let us move on to the next question.

“Honourable colleagues, I am about to bring this briefing to a close. If you know that you don’t want briefing—I will close this briefing,” Mr Gbajabiamila had said to restore order in the House.

At the last minute, Mrs Ahmad later disclosed that “500 million pieces of currency from the mint” was ordered by the bank but she did not provide further details.

Cash Withdrawal Policy

Speaking on the implementation of the cash withdrawal limit policy, Mr Soli, a lawmaker from Katsina, said the banking sector in Nigeria lacks the three critical infrastructure for the success of the policy.

According to him, three infrastructure are critical, namely power, telecommunication and banks. He noted that some rural areas lack these infrastructure.

Mrs Ahmad insisted that Nigeria has the financial services to implement the policy.

“We have a very robust banking system that includes bank branches, branches of the micro financial bank, POS machines, ATMs, agent banking, E-Naira and many other options.

“To be specific, between the banks and micro financial banks, we have 6,500 locations. 900,000 POS terminals, 14,000 ATMs across the country and 1.4 million agents,” she said.

Mrs Ahmad assured the lawmakers that their concerns would be taken into consideration.

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