By Babajide Komolafe
LAGOSâ€”CENTRAL Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has suspended the March 31 deadline for acceptance of old N50, N10 and N5 paper notes as legal tenders.
Last year, CBN introduced new N5, N10 and N50 polymer banknotes into circulation and gave a deadline of six months ending March 31, 2010, after which the old paper notes would cease to be accepted as legal tender. But more than a month to the expiration of the deadline, Nigerians, especially traders and transporters, began to reject the notes as legal tender.
A top CBN official who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, said the apex bank was aware of the concerns about the old notes and has decided to extend the deadline indefinitely. This means the old N50, N10 and N5 notes will continue to be accepted as legal tender until they are all withdrawn from the system.
President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua, as part of the last Independence Anniversary on October 1, 2009, launched the new N5, N10 and N50 polymer notes as legal tender in the country.
Speaking at the launch, the Governor of the Central CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, urged Nigerians to embrace the new currencies as well as strive to keep the naira clean. He also urged Nigerians to check the abuse to which the currency has been subjected to over the years.
Sanusi who said the campaign to keep the naira clean will further be enhanced by the introduction of the new polymers notes, said that banks â€œhave established exchange windows to enable the public exchange the new polymer notes with their genuine old â€˜paperâ€™ bank notes, which cease to be a legal tender from March 2010.â€
Highlighting advantages of the polymer notes on the paper notes, Sansui stressed that the polymer notes were made of water-proof materials resistant to easy tear and dirt.
The CBN had in 1973 introduced notes for 50 kobo, N1, N5, N10 and N20. The 50 kobo was issued last in 1989. In 1991, the N50 notes were issued, followed by N100 in 1999, N200 in 2000, N500 in 2001 and N1000 on October 12, 2005.
On February 28, 2007, new versions of the N5 to N50 banknotes were introduced. Originally, the N10, N20 and N50 were planned to be in polymer banknotes, but only the N20 was made of polymer until October 1, 2009.