Central Bank of Nigeria has begun a cash swap policy in Bayelsa State through agents to distribute the newly redesigned notes to rural communities. Accordingly, commercial banks in Yenagoa, the state capital witnessed large turn out of agents trying to get the redesigned notes as part of the swap deal. The nation apex bank recently made arrangements with super agents, as well as mobile money operators to swap the old N200, N500 and N1,000 for the newly redesigned notes under the policy. According to the apex bank, they were expected to swap up to N10,000 per person while amounts above N10,000 would be treated as deposits, an initiative aimed at increasing circulation of the new Naira dominations, particularly in the rural communities.
In Bayelsa, the agents from communities across the eight local government areas of the state could be seen at headquarters of commercial banks in Yenagoa trying to exchange the old notes for new ones as part of the deal. A Manager with the CBN, Abuja branch, Mr. Nweke Jude during a visit to the commercial banks in Yenagoa, the state capital to monitor compliance said the critical part of the assignment was to actually assess the newly introduced cash swap policy introduced by CBN to ensure that ordinary people and the under-banked especially in rural areas would also have access to new notes through super agents and the banks. He added, “the goal is to reverse the trend of having much currency out of circulation and the banking sector, stashed in houses and other areas which has impacted negatively on the economy, causing inflation in the process.”
An agent, Mr. Okeleyem Augustine-Osain who said he came all the way from Kolo III Community in Ogbia Local Government Area to Yenagoa to receive the newly redesigned notes, however urged the CBN to do more to empower the agents for the swap policy to be effective. Meanwhile, some customers in the state capital lamented that most Automated Teller Machines (ATM) operated by commercial banks have continued to dispense the old currencies just as Point of Sales Operatives dispense the old notes. Also, some major supermarkets, departmental stores and traders have stopped accepting the old notes, just as some worship centers have advised members to start using the new notes for offerings and tithes.