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Jan 31 Deadline For Old Naira Notes Remains, CBN Insists …Raises Interest Rate To 17.5%

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that its January 31, 2023 deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes remains.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced this after the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja, yesterday.
The CBN also raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), which measures interest rate, to 17.5percent.
According to him, kidnapping and ransom-taking have reduced since the three banknotes were redesigned.
He also said the time given for the swap of the old naira notes with new ones were enough for Nigerians to go to commercial banks and get new notes.
The CBN on October 26, 2022 had announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes. President Muhammadu Buhari subsequently unveiled the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes on November 23, 2022, while the apex bank fixed January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.
There have been concerns from many Nigerians over the slow spread of the three new naira notes as the January 31, 2023 deadline approaches but the apex bank has insisted that the date stands.
The CBN also recently directed commercial banks to halt over-the-counter payment of the new notes and load their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) with the redesigned naira notes to boost circulation.
The apex bank also launched a cash swap programme nationwide to enable those in the unbanked areas to exchange their old notes for new notes before the deadline.
On the wide clamour for the extension of the deadline for old currency usage, the CBN Governor said: “Unfortunately, I don’t have good news for them. My apologies. We can’t shift the deadline. Just like Mr President has said on some occasions, 90 days is enough for people to get their money into the bank. We ensured the banks extended banking hours and opened on Saturdays to accept the old notes. But they did not see the rush. Only the same normal deposits. So, no need for a shift”.
On the scarcity of the new naira, Emefiele said the CBN holds three meetings with the banks every week to address the challenge.
“We saw that the banks were paying the new notes to their close customers and we stopped it and said, feed it to the ATMs. It has worked. In the initial stages, they were seeing old notes and after a week, we said that only needed notes should be in ATMs and we increased the volume of new notes.
“We told the banks that we want to have zero old notes in your vaults by the 1st of February. There are adequate new notes available. Our mint is producing and we are supplying.
“I held a meeting with state governors and some said no banks in riverine areas and upland areas. But we have 1.4million super agents for cash exchanges.
“We’ve put this in place. A week ago, we told our directors and deputies to go around the country for mass sensitisation in markets, churches and mosques for weeks running. We remain focused on the weak and vulnerable even after the 31, we shall ensure new naira permeates every nook and cranny of Nigeria.
“In 2015, there was N1.42trillion currency in circulation and $3.2trillion in 2022. More than double! N2.7trillion of that is outside the banks. People are keeping vaults in their homes. They can’t be banks in their homes. We can’t allow that. They should release it back to the CBN. Ransom and kidnapping are reducing. I could be wrong.
“We have N1.5trillion back in banks and perhaps this week, we hope to get N2trillion in.
“Just bring it, no one will harass you. We’ve begged EFCC and ICPC to let us do our job. And nothing will happen to you. I promise you that on my honour,” he stated.
On the MPC decisions, Emefiele said the committee agreed to raise the interest rate from 16.5percent to 17.5percent, in a move towards taming the raging inflation in Nigeria, currently pegged at 21percent.
The MPC kept the asymmetric corridor at +100/-700 basis points around the MPR.
It also retained the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) by 32.5percent while the liquidity ratio was kept at 30percent.
“Tightening was the way to go. Our inflation target is 7-10percent and so we can’t rejoice at 21percent.
“We can hold or loosen when the inflation rate goes down. But right now, we remain aggressive on rates”, Emefiele explained.
However, the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum have asked the CBN to extend the date to enable more Nigerians get the new notes.
The Senate, yesterday, urged the Central Bank of Nigeria, to extend the mop-up of old Naira notes to July 31, 2023.
The upper legislative chamber, through an adopted resolution, arrived at the new deadline after a thorough debate.
This was against the backdrop of the earlier resolution in December, 2022, which the lawmakers said, was jettisoned by the apex bank.
The denominations of N200, N500 and N1000 notes have been redesigned and are already in circulation.
The redesign has been trailed by heavy criticisms, citing the timing as insensitive as a result of the general election coming up next month.
Meanwhile, the call for fresh extension was fallout of a motion sponsored by Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar representing Kwara North Senatorial District, in which he said: “the new notes were not enough in circulation”, warning that if the deadline was not extended, there would be chaos in many parts of the country.
The House of Representatives hasalso asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to extend the deadline for acceptance of the old naira notes by six months.
The House also resolved to invite some managing directors of some banks and the CBN to brief the leadership of the House on the availability of the notes.
The decision was sequel to a motion of urgent public importance moved by Sada Soli, a lawmaker from Katsina State.
He stated that the January 31 deadline set by the CBN was not feasible as traders have started rejecting the old notes in his constituency.
He stated that banks and other financial institutions do not have the capacity to deal with the rush.
Speaking in support of the motion, Ahmed Jaha from Borno State informed the House that CBN officials were in his constituency to help, however, the measure was not enough.
“The CBN are in my constituency helping people to swap the old notes. The amount taken to my constituency, the amount is not enough. For 10 years, my constituents have not had access to banks.
“We have a lot to lose if the deadline is allowed to stand,” Jaha said.
The Speaker of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, in his reaction to the motion, said there was a need for an investigation into what was stalling the disbursement of the new notes.
“CBN is making spirited efforts. They were at the central mosques in Lagos. I am not sure if it is enough. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The timing is what we have problems with.
“There is a need to review the policy. I think there is a need to add another prayer. The bank is saying they don’t have the money but the CBN is saying they have the money. We should invite the bank MDs to brief either the leadership or a small committee,” he said.
The House consequently resolved that an ad-hoc committee headed by the Majority Leader, Hassan Doguwa, should meet with the invited MDs.

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LGA Boss Vows To Deliver Fubara, Others In Rivers

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The Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State, Hon. Akara Okechukwu, has reiterated that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would win all positions from governor to state House of Assembly.
He stated that the foundation of victory had been laid by the Governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, following his infrastructure development successes in the state.
Okechukwu said this while reacting after the state PDP campaign team visited his area, last Saturday, saying that the people of Oyigbowere ready to reciprocate what the present administration has done for the LGA in every aspect.
“I have no fear, and I am convinced that the Governorship candidate of PDP Siminialayi Fubara and other state candidates of the PDP will win.
“The people of Oyigbo have vowed to vote massively for PDP because that is the only way to pay back Governor Wike for his good works, mostly in Oyigbo.
“As I speak, 95percent of people living in the area have their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), and this indicates sure victory for our great party. I thank the people for coming out enmasse for the campaign, I am really happy,” Okechukwu said.
Speaking, Chairman, Revenue Committee of the LGA, Senibo Daniel Chijindu, described the massive turn out as historic, saying that it was an indication of total victory.
“I will say that the massive turn out of people was historic because this is the first time people came out enmasse for campaign. Honestly, this is an indication that Oyigbo was ‘Simplified’ and was totally for PDP.
“Governor Wike has given Rivers State, a facelift in all ramifications. That is why Oyigbo people said they are for PDP in totality,” he said.
The revenue boss advised those who register for PVC should go and collect their PVC because that is only way to sustain the good governance of PDP.
Also speaking, former commissioner for commerce and industry and stakeholder of PDP in Oyigbo, Hon. Nancy Nwankwo, said adequate sensitisation has been done for the importance of PVC and vote PDP.
According to her, women in Oyigbowere already prepared to celebrate the victory of SiminialayiFubara come May this year, saying they come out enmasse to vote for PDP.
“I am convinced that SimFubara will do better hence he is civil servant. He has proven his intellectual capacity faithful and truthful to replace Governor Wike,” she said.

By: Tonye Orabere

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NCDC Confirms 38 Deaths Of 123 Diphtheria Cases …Says Gaps In Vaccination Coverage Fuelling Outbreak

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No fewer than 38 persons have died out of the 123 diphtheria cases recorded in Nigeria so far, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has confirmed.
The states currently facing the disease caused by serious infection of the nose and throat that is easily preventable by vaccine, are Kano, Lagos, Yobe and Osun, respectively.
The nation’s disease control and prevention agency, which disclosed this at a ministerial press briefing, organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, said more cases of the disease were being expected in days ahead, as it spreads to other places.
Speaking through its Director of Special Duties, Dr Priscilla Ibekwe, NCDC said: “As of January 22, NCDC have 123 confirmed cases and 38 deaths. 100 cases are from Kano, with 32 deaths. In Lagos there are five cases with three deaths. In Yobe, there 17 confirmed cases and three deaths, and Osun has recorded one case with no death”.
According to Ibekwe, besides clinically suspected cases, there have been laboratory-confirmed cases.
Ibekwe said the agency was working with state ministries of health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.
She said,”Given the sub-optimal coverage for the third dose of the diphtheria containing pentavalent vaccine (54percent – 2021 MICS & NICS) in the country, we expect more cases from more states.
“The centre has collaborated with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to organize a 5-day workshop on enhancing laboratory diagnosis of diphtheria in Nigeria for laboratory scientists working in NCDC’s National Reference Laboratories and its lab network (this was planned before cases were reported as part of preparedness), and;
“Written to all states HCHs to institute immediate and necessary public health measures for timely detection and response to diphtheria at state level”.
Speaking on measures being put in place to prevent the disease from spreading further, Ibekwe said NCDC has published a public health advisory, accessible on its website, which educates Nigerians on risk factors and offers advice.
She said:”Parents ensuring that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with 3 doses of the pentavalent vaccine. Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria”.
She also spoke on how to better understand and contain the prevailing global outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 variants.
She said:”The sub-lineages i.e., XBB.1.5 partly responsible for the current increase in COVID-19 cases in the US and elsewhere countries have not yet been detected in the country.
“However, this variant has not been associated with increased severity of illness and now appears to be levelling off.
“The variants reported in China so far have been those circulating globally including in Nigeria for some time.”
However, the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control and Prevention has attributed the current outbreak of diphtheria in some parts of Nigeria to a drop in the childhood vaccination coverage in some areas of the country.
The Director-General of the Agency, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, who spoke about the development on a television programme, said that there were 34 deaths recorded over the weekend from the outbreak which hit four states.
He said due to the effectiveness of the childhood vaccination programme, most people have forgotten what it looks like.
He said, “Diphtheria, a vaccine preventable disease that used to be common decades ago is on the increase in some states in Nigeria. The fact that there is a resurgence suggests that there is significant reduction in vaccination coverage among pockets of the population and this reduced pockets of immunity has given rise to the cases we have seen.
“It is not a matter of diphtheria spreading from state to state, the bacteria that causes the disease is present everywhere and it spreads, and any state in which you find the disease now is likely to be associated with suboptimal vaccination rates, either in general or in particular in pockets of population. Failure of childhood vaccination in the failed states causing the diphtheria outbreaks.
“Kano has highest number of cases followed by Yobe, by weekend, there were 34 deaths in total.”
He warned that although diphtheria was highly preventable and treatable, fatality can increase without antibiotics and appropriate conditions, including the diphtheria antitoxin. He assured that with early detection and prompt treatment, the fatal outcomes are usually low.
Adetifa stressed that the really severe cases require the diphtheria antitoxin, even as he assured that the NCDC had distributed vials of the antitoxin since December for use in Lagos and Kano states, and was planning to extend availability to every state where the disease cases are found.
“It is important that patients should be recognised early, and laboratory confirmation carried out so that treatment can commence immediately.”
Adetifa said there were arrangements for trainings of personnel for laboratory diagnosis of the toxin including testing for most of the clinical effects.
“We are in a good state to help, but patients need to be recognised early and diagnosis made quickly and they are placed on the right treatment.
“We are using the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA data to predict high risk states, there is connection with low socioeconomic situation, and we need to look out for healthcare workers who can be given courses of antibiotics.

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Long-Hour Fasting, Danger To Kidney, NAFDAC Warns

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The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. MojisolaAdeyeye, has advised Nigerians against subjecting themselves to long-hour fasting, saying it was risky to their kidneys.
Adeyeye, who attributed the high rate of kidney problems in Nigeria to prolonged fasting by some religious adherents, insisted that those subjecting themselves to prolonged fasting on religious grounds must moderate the act.
She spoke in Abuja, yesterday, while briefing the media on the breakthrough by her agency in tracking high consignments of Tramadol and other pharmaceuticals to the Republic of Benin.
On the high rate of kidney problems in the country, she said: “Kidney failure, we are a very religious country- Muslims and Christians fast a lot and it is part of the kidney problem.
“Your body has to have homeomistatic balance, meaning that the water level in your body must be enough to make your organs to function.
“Some people will fast for 10 or 20 days and drink only little water, the kidney is being punished. Now, if you put chemicals in it, it triples in exponential manner, it damages the kidney because the kidney doesn’t have water to dilute and filter.”
Adeyeye, who tasked Nigerians to fast but with common sense, added: “I fast but with common sense. We have to fast with common sense; otherwise we will pay with our kidneys.”

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