The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Arewa Youths for Development and National Unity (AYDNU) have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the deadline for currency swap.
In separate statements on Saturday in Kaduna, both groups said many rural communities will not be able to change the old notes before the January 31 dateline by the CBN .
The ACF in a statement, expressed concern that ordinary people, especially, in the North will lose their hard earned money if the dateline is not extended.
The statement signed by the Secretary General of the forum, Murtala Aliyu, urged the government to be sensitive to the plight of the citizens to safeguard their interests in all areas.
“As the deadline for the exchange expires this coming Tuesday, we are afraid that majority of our people in the rural areas are unable to change their old currencies for the new ones, this is because even in the urban centres, the new notes are scarce”, the statement reads.
“Also where the CBN made some arrangements to facilitate such, the exercise is being challenged by numerous factors, such as lack of adequate access to bank services on the part of the people, cumbersome exchange procedure, etc.
“This has subjected innocent people to hardships, uncertainty and anxiety.
“We are of the strong belief that ordinary people especially in the North will lose their hard earned moneys through no fault of theirs.
“Government must be sensitive to the plight of the citizens to safeguard their interests in all areas”.
Aliyu urged that, “Insinuations by some political actors that the exercise is designed deliberately to fail, or cause chaos to sabotage the ongoing democratic process should not be allowed to be proven.”
The forum called President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN, “to as a matter of urgency extend the expiration date of the exercise and improve on the arrangements so as to accommodate everyone with genuine cases”.
On its part, the AYDNU, said the three months window given for the currency swap was insufficient even if all the variables necessary for a smooth currency change remain constant.
Addressing a press conference at the Arewa House House, Kaduna, spokesperson of the group, Isa Mohammed, said a large population in rural communities in the north, operating outside the banking system, would be negatively affected if the dateline is not extended.
“We wish to state upfront that we are not against the policy of changing the nation’s currencies… but against the unrealistic deadline of January 31st, 2023, just three short days away”.
Mohammed said, “We were worried at the beginning that the three months window given for the currency swap was insufficient even if all the variables necessary for a smooth currency change remain constant.
“Our nation, sadly, suffers considerable deficit in banking infrastructure.
“As a result, there is a large population of fellow compatriots in the north and especially in rural areas operating outside the banking system, who are likely to be broken by this harsh unrealistic and unworkable policy.”
He said, “As we speak, this particular class of citizens who daily conduct their businesses in cash in countrysides and rural markets, are going through a grueling experience, waiting hours unend to bank their cash.
“In the rare chance they bank their cash, their nightmare begins all over again, for, accessing the new notes is another uphill task exacting the same degree of difficulty as in saving their money…”
The group appealed to the CBN to reconsider its position on the dateline to ensure the ordinary Nigerians will not suffer losses.