From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

The leader of Yoruba Youths Council, Comrade Eric Oluwole has urged the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to join the growing calls by eminent Nigerians on the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) to extend the cash swap deadline.

February 10 had been given by the nation’s apex bank as the deadline by which Nigerians must have exchanged their old currency of N200, N500 and N1000 denominations to the new one when the old currency would cease being legal tender.

However, in the last few days, Nigerians in their millions who have been besieging the commercial banks daily across the country to change the old notes had been going through agonies.

The situation has been worsened by scarcity of the new currency amid a crippling fuel scarcity nationwide, and many people cannot pay for bills, people are dying because of this hardship.

Despite the CBN directives on the commercial banks to start paying their customers with new notes over the counter, the new currency is non existent in the banks while the maximum withdrawal permitted by banks per customer a day is N20,000

Stressing the need for the deadline extension, Oluwole reminded Atiku of the CBN Act, “which states that any change of currency must provide enough time for people to return their old notes”.

The Yoruba Youths Council as an apex umbrella body for Yoruba youths worldwide, which has been one of the ethnic youth bodies in the country strongly supporting the CBN initiative on cashless policy, advised the CBN to orientate the public about the development.

Oluwole in a statement said, “We urge the CBN to extend the deadline because Nigerian people are suffering, especially in making hospital payments apart from facing other hardship in the country. We urge the Apex bank to understand the yearning of all Nigerian citizens.

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“The former Vice President on Wednesday, had in a statement in Abuja asked the CBN not to grant a further extension after the February 10 deadline for naira swap.

“He said this was to ensure that the purpose and objective of initiating the redesigning of the currency are not destroyed”.

The Yoruba youth leader quoted Atiku saying, “The CBN should be wary of the elite whose motive for crying out about more postponement of the deadline for the tenure of the old naira notes is sinister and far from being altruistic. I am totally in support of building a cashless economy and reducing the amount of cash in our economy.

“The cashless policy and reduction of the cash in circulation has many advantages and every patriotic Nigerian should support the CBN on this. It will help to reduce the flow of illicit funds in our economy. It will help to defeat the funding of terrorism and deter the circulation of drug money in our economy. It will help our fight against corruption.

“More importantly, a cashless economy will help to save and grow our democracy. Those who have devised several means of buying votes in the coming elections and using money to corrupt the electoral system as well as destroying the principle of one man, one vote and the goal of a credible, peaceful, free, and fair poll are the ones shouting against the cashless policy and naira redesign.

“The anti-democratic elements who are pretending to be democrats are the ones ganging up against the CBN because of the currency redesigning and the cashless regime it seeks to enthrone. They have been scheming and lobbying day and night to frustrate the policy. Now, their new measure is to lobby for a second postponement of the deadline for the change of currency. I urge the CBN and the government to ignore their antics. The CBN should not succumb to the current pressure.

“There should be no further postponement of the new naira regime after the expiration of the February 10 deadline. The vote riggers are seeking to push the CBN to extend till after the election when they would have achieved their evil plots. The CBN and the Presidency should be steadfast. The merits of the new naira policy far outweigh the little inconvenience we are experiencing.

“This is one policy that will benefit the country in the long term. We should not allow those selfish, parochial people with the narrow vision to derail it,”

The Yoruba youths leader therefore advised Atiku to support the postponement and extension of the naira swap towards the good lives for masses, and he should revert his statement