January 26, 2023

The house of representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to suspend the new policy on weekly cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities.

The lawmakers also summoned Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, over the new policy scheduled to take effect on January 9, 2023.

The resolution was passed during a plenary session on Thursday following the adoption of a motion of urgent public importance sponsored by Aliyu Magaji, a lawmaker from Jigawa.

In a memo issued on Tuesday, signed by the Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna Mustafa, the apex bank directed all banks and other financial institutions to ensure that over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities do not exceed N100,000 and N500, 000, respectively, per week.

It also directed that only N200 and lower denominations should be loaded into banks’ ATMs.

At the plenary, the lawmakers resolved that CBN should halt the implementation pending the conclusion of probe.

Leading the debate on the motion, Magaji said small businesses are drivers of Nigeria’s economy and most small business owners transact their businesses, trade and transactions in physical cash and are in most cases, not inclined to the use of electronic banking system as most of them are either illiterate, half-educated or not learned at all.

These set of Nigerians who are the drivers of Nigeria’s economy will be seriously negatively affected and their business and source of livelihood may be seriously impaired with these new directives of CBN,” he said.

“The new policies rolled out by CBN will hurt the already dwindling economy, and further weakens the value of Nigeria as Nigerians may resolve to use dollars and other currencies as a means of trading and thus further de valued Naira and weakens the economy.”

Contributing to the motion, Aminu Suleman from Kano, said the CBN issued the directive without taking into consideration of Nigerians in remote and rural areas.

He said lawmakers in the national assembly may be voted out by their constituents if they do not intervene and demand that the CBN suspend the policy.

“This could be an exit board for many of us if we allow this radical decision to succeed and there my voice must be heard on this,” he said.

“There are several government chief executives in this country that have outlived the essence of their positions because I cannot simply understand how we can wake up one day and introduce this draconian approach to businesses, giving Nigerians one month to adjust their belts.

“I think that beyond rhetoric we should search our books and impose necessary legislation to ensure we arrest the situation, we have more powers and we can look into the powers of the CBN and remove the excess powers for us that we can act on behalf of Nigerians.”

However, Ndudi Elumelu, minority leader, spoke against the motion, saying the cash withdrawal policy will eventually tackle insecurity.

On the issues of cashless policy, I think that is the best thing that can happen to this country even though the timing might be difficult, we may ask for an extension of time for it to be well implemented,” Elumelu said.

“If there is a cashless policy and people use their phones to transfer money, some of such things will not happen and that is the truth.”

In his remarks, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, asked Emefiele to appear before the senate and house of representatives.

“I think you will allow me to speak to the senate president and see whether in compliance with the act we can have a joint session,” he said.

“I think this is important enough for him to brief the national assembly but if that fails, appearing before the national assembly does not necessarily mean in a joint session.

“If he appears before the senate separately and appears before the House separately, he has appeared before the National Assembly but to save time, I will ask if that is possible.”

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