The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on the Central Bank Of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the date for the stoppage of the use of the highest denominations of Nigeria’s currency.
President of NLC Ayuba Wabba made the call when he responded to questions during a media engagement with members of Labour Correspondents Association of Nigeria (LACAN) in Abuja.
The NLC President strongly kicked against the insistence of the CBN to implement its policy on the phasing out og N1,000, N500 and N200 notes in Nigeria starting from January 31st.
The labour leader gave reasons for its call, saying that the newly redesigned notes of the three currency are not widely circulated for the citizens to use.
Wabba noted that the CBN will throw many Nigerians, especially those in the villages into more hardship if it goes ahead to enforce the decision on the last day of January.
He said: “We align ourselves fully with the position of Senate because we go to the rural areas. We have workers in rural areas. We have many of our local governments that don’t have banking facilities and some of those areas are even very hard to reach.
“So we call for this policy to be reviewed, and to give extension so that all the old notes can then be mopped up by the bank. We call on CBN particularly in areas where you don’t have banks, don’t just go to one or two local governments like they did in Borno. Don’t select places and then tell the media that you are doing the right thing, you are doing the wrong thing.
“The new notes are not in circulation and the old notes are being rejected. They are pushing people to the wall and very soon people will react.
“Importantly, even in city centers, where we have banks, the banks are not dispensing. If you go to the rural areas and see the chaotic nature of how people have come with their money to change, it is becoming a problem.
“No policy should be meant a to haunt people like what is happening now. And we have called on the government to look at this issue very carefully before it snowball into a major crisis.
“The fact of the matter is that the new notes are not available. There are only a few in circulation. The situation is worse in these areas because most of our rural areas don’t have banks. The State I come from, in the entire state we have only three banks. We have 27 local governments, only three local governments have banks: Jere, Maiduguri and Biu. All the other local governments; 24 of them don’t have banks.”
The NLC President added: “We align ourselves fully with the position taken by the Senate. This policy will certainly impact negatively on our economy, on the people in the rural areas, and even on urban areas, because the notes are not available.
“When you go to spend the old notes now people are rejecting it. So either way, people are already in the middle and they are suffering the consequences of this policy which has not been well thought out.
“In many parts of the world where they change policy, the citizens keep spending the currency when it enters the bank. It will not come out. Bank we’ll collect it and they will be releasing to new ones. Right now our commercial banks are culpable of inflicting hardship on Nigerians, go to the ATM points you will see what is happening. Most of them are not even dispensing. Most of the ATM machines, where you see four, only one will be working. You see many queues, people have been subjected to all manner of action.
“The CBN did not think through this policy very well. If it is targeting the rich, the rich are the owners of the bank, the rich are already spending dollars and the rich are spending other currencies. So CBN is targeting the rich but punishing the poor.”