By Odo Ogenyi, Uyo
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Uyo, Branch Akwa Ibom State has intensified its sensitisation in the state on the January 31, 2023 deadline when the old notes of N1000, N500, and N200 would cease to be legal tender.
The CBN offiicials during awareness campaign to different local government areas of the State last weekend advised the residents especially traders in market places to ensure that they deposit all the old notes in banks before the deadline.
The officials who observed during spot checks on commercial banks located in the communities were still dispensing old Naira notes, warned them to comply with the directive to start issuing redesigned notes to their customers or risk being sanctioned.
At Nsit Ubium Local Government Area , the CBN Branch controller in the State, Mrs Itohan Mercy Ogbomon-Paul, appealed to the traditional leaders to help them in enlightening their subjects on the New Notes and the cashless policy in their communities
Ogbomon-Paul made the appeal when she led other CBN offiicials from Abuja and Uyo Branch on advocacy visit to the OkuIbom Ibibio and President General of Akwa Ibom State Traditional Rulers Council, HRM, Edidem Solomon Etuk in his palace.
She presented samples of the three redesigned notes to the OkuIbom as well as flyers and pamphlets printed to aid in the ongoing nationwide sensitization campaign.
She explained that the old banknotes of N500, N1000, and N200 which were still being used side by side with the new notes would be phased out completely on January 31, 2023.
Her words: “We are here for the Central Bank of Nigeria sensitization on the redesigned notes. As we speak, some of our officials are already going round the local government areas.
“We actually started the sensitization drive since Wednesday in Uyo, but as we are here today, we said we will first come to pay homage to you and then continue the sensitisation to other local government areas that we have not been to”
Responding, the OkuIbom of Ibibio and Paramount Ruler of Nsit Ubium who assured the CBN team that he would use town criers to pass the message on the New Naira notes to his subjects, however, appealed for extension of the January 31 deadline.
He stressed that there was also the need for the Apex Bank to do more sensitization in rural communities on the cashless policy, for the benefit of the underprivileged persons.
“I am appealing on behalf of my people of Akwa Ibom State that CBN should extend the deadline. The time given is too short. Whatever policy we introduce in the system, we must ensure that the underprivileged do not suffer.
“With the level of poverty in our midst whatever policy we want to introduce must take a gradual process. As traditional rulers that is our concern. You should extend the deadline and keep on sensitising the people on this cashless policy.
” I will send town criers immediately across the communities to dessiminate the message on the deadline. And on the day that we’ll be having traditional Council meeting in Uyo, I will invite you to come and sensitise them on the cashless policy”, the monarch said
Meanwhile, residents across the local government areas especially traders lamented scarcity of the redesigned notes as the commercial banks were still dispensing only the old notes at their Automated Teller Machines.
At Abak main Market , Abak LGA a market woman who simply identified herself as Usual lamented “You (CBN) said that on the 31st of January you will stop using the old Niara ones, but the New notes are s not in circulation. I sell Tigernut in this market, and I have my ATM but I have not seen or received any of the new Notes”
Similarly traders at the Itam Central Mosque, in itu local government area appealed to the CBN to put pressure on the commercial banks to start issuing the redesigned notes.
Other Local Government areas visited during the awareness campaign on Friday were Ibesikpo Asutan, Nsit Ibom, Nsit Atai, Nsit Ubium, Etinan, Onna, Ikot Abasi, Mkpat Enin, Eastern Obolo, Mbo, Urueoffong/Oruko, Oron , Udung Uko and Abak.