President Muhammadu Buhari is considering extending the validity of old naira notes by 60 days, TheCable understands.
This is to avoid disobeying the order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria which ruled that the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes remain valid until it delivers judgment in the case filed by some states against the federal government.
The CBN had insisted that the deadline of February 10 would not be changed but a senior government official told TheCable that Buhari was worried about the hardship faced by Nigerians as well as the legal implications of disobeying the order of the constitutional court.
The official told TheCable that this was the focus of a meeting between Buhari and the leadership of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) as well as the Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) until the early hours of Wednesday.
The governors were then expected to withdraw their case at the apex court.
“The resolution was to give room for President Buhari to make concession on the monetary policy and make the following announcements public,” the official said.
“One, that the old naira notes of N200 be allowed free movement in and out of the banks for the next 60 days.
“Two, that all three notes will be legal tender during this period, but that any old N500 or N1,000 that goes into a bank will not be sent back into circulation.”
The official said that while others were “on the same page with the president”, Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, insisted on total cancellation of the policy.
Buhari, who had earlier delayed attending the federal executive council (FEC) meeting by 40 minutes to monitor the development at the Supreme Court, was disappointed that the governors reneged on their promise to withdraw the case.
He had, after the meeting on Wednesday, met with Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, and Modibbo Tukur, the director of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), on the need to allow all old notes circulate in the system to ease hardship on ordinary Nigerians.
“The president will not disobey the court. But he is also concerned about the suffering of Nigerians and wants the to find lasting solution to it,” the official further explained to TheCable.
“It is clear that some militancy is being propagated against the people by the elite who have the means to secure the new notes no matter what while the people continue to suffer.
“The president will continue to engage and see the way out of the logjam.”
Editor’s note: A slight correction has been done to the story to reflect that only old N200 notes will be allowed to go in and out of the banking system till April 10. Old N1,000 and N500 notes will not be dispensed by banks under the imminent concession.