MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
As some commercial banks seem to have compromised in the timely disbursement of the new naira notes with some National Assembly members calling for extension in the 31st January 2023 deadline given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the return of old naira notes, a security consultant and Managing Director of Badison Security Limited, Mr. Matthew Ibadin has called for an urgent setting up of a presidential task force to monitor the banks.
Speaking with newsmen at the weekend in Lagos, Ibadin noted that even though the newly redesigned naira notes of N1000, N500 and N200 were yet to circulate appropriately in the public space since the CBN gave three months notice for the validity of the old notes to seize, it was obvious that many of the deposit banks have embarked on dubious transactions.
He pointed out that bundles of the same new naira notes which are not yet adequately in circulation could be seen being abused in wedding and other parties as revealed in a video currently trending in the social media. “How did such naira abusers get the bundles of the new notes if not for the corruption of bank officials” he asked.
Last Tuesday while addressing journalists after a meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee of the CBN, the Bank’s Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele had said that there was enough quantity of the new notes to go in circulation adding that the CBN commissioned currency swap which would make it possible for banking agents to exchange the new notes with the old ones.
With these measures in place, Ibadin posited that the deposit banks must have compromised. He has therefore called on the Federal Government to constitute a task force to unravel the mystery behind the inadequate circulation of the newly redesigned naira notes even after CBN had ordered commercial banks to stop loading their Automated Teller Machines (ATM) with old notes.
Last week, the CBN said it was on the look out for those who spray and stamp on naira notes at parties, warning that such abusers would be appropriately prosecuted for abusing our currency which is a symbol of Nigeria’s sovereignty.
The apex bank last week also had reiterated the fact that it is a global best practice to redesign the currency every five years, but here in Nigeria our naira notes were last redesigned nine years ago.
In the light of this, Ibadin while supporting President Buhari on the sanctity of 31st January, 2023 as deadline for the return of old naira notes, has urged the Federal Government to properly investigate to know the erring banks hoarding the new naira notes and giving same in bulk to some people particularly politicians. Such offending deposit banks should be sanctioned by way of having their licences withdrawn and their managing directors prosecuted for national sabotage.
He would want the task force to be set up by the president to diligently probe into the processes of disbursing the new currency with a view to knowing who collected which amount from what bank.
He supported the CBN’s warning that any one who sprays naira notes at parties should be arrested and prosecuted for abusing our currency stressing that the Department of State Service (DSS) could be saddled with the responsibility of tracking such naira abusers.
Besides the suspicion that stashed away naira notes in homes other than in deposit banks could be used to buy votes, Ibadin added that the culture of having much cash outside the banks has helped to increase the kidnap for ransom regime.
Economically speaking, the Badison boss noted that much cash outside of the banks would continue to instigate inflationary trends in the system and also trigger instability in the stock market against other currencies.
He has therefore called on the National Assembly to support the CBN in ensuring that deposit banks effectively disburse the new notes rather than call for six months extension of validity period to July 31, 2023 as recently canvassed by some Senators and House of Representatives members.
The security consultant also posted that the CBN monetary policy on old currency would help the security agencies especially Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and DSS in their financial fraud investigations.