Sunday Aborisade in Abuja
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday succeeded in convincing, overwhelmingly, the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions on its latest policy to limit cash withdrawal for individuals at N100,000 and Corporate Bodies at N500, 000 per week.
The CBN Deputy Governor on Financial System Stability, Mrs. Aishat Ahmad, gave the clarification when she appeared before the Senate panel, alongside her counterpart on Corporate Services , Edward Lametek Adamu, when they both appeared before the panel for screening.
Both Ahmad and Adamu, were recently reappointed by President Muhammadu Buhari who requested the Senate’s screening and confirmation for their second and final tenure at the apex bank.
Ahmad who addressed the Senate panel, chaired by Senator Uba Sani (APC Kaduna Central), explained that the policy was first introduced in 2012 during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
She explained that the cashless policy being fully implemented by CBN now, was not new.
She said the required steps in that direction, was taken in 2012 with Lagos State as pilot scheme and later extended to Abuja and six other states in 2013.
Ahmad, however, explained that the full implementation of the policy has not been carried out by CBN since then.
She said its introduction then, has brought a lot of transformation into the banking and payment system.
The Deputy Governor’s directorate is responsible for ensuring a safe and sound financial system and credible efficient payments system, a core mandate of the CBN.
Ahmad said, “The cashless policy in Nigeria, was first introduced over 10 years ago in 2012 starting in Lagos State.
“In 2013 the policy was later extended to six additional states and the Federal Capital Territory. Since then, Nigerians have continued to embrace the cashless policy by using electronic channels for their transactions, whilst the Nigerian payments system and telecommunications infrastructure continued to develop.”
She spoke of the significant growth in variety and number of financial access points expanding from just bank and Micro Finance Banks branches to include agents.
She stated that agents could perform an increasing variety of transactions including cash in cash out, bill payments and even account opening.
Ahmad said, “Under the CBN’s SANEF initiative, agent network had grown to 1.4m agents with agents available in every local government in Nigeria.
“While the growth in the network was not even, there was representation in every state.”
She added that in furtherance of its mandate to develop an efficient payments system, the CBN had continued to license more financial institutions including allowing the telecommunication firma to participate in financial services through the Payment Service Bank license, recognising their extensive technology platforms and wide agent network.
The CBN Deputy Governor reiterated the various options open to Nigerians to perform financial transactions including mobile money, USSD, Internet banking, mobile apps, e naira, agents and mobile POS, among others.
She said, “All of these would ensure that Nigerians would seamlessly adapt to the cashless policy to enable financial inclusion and economic growth.”
She pledged the CBNs commitment to ensuring that Nigerians in the rural areas and informal sector are not disenfranchised.
She stated that the Bank would be flexible in its monitoring and implementation of the new cash withdrawal limits.
She told the committee that indeed the cashless policy had been amended in the past in response to feedback from stakeholders and that the January 9, 2023 date was set to enable such engagement and feedback be held.
The Chairman of the Committee in his remarks expressed satisfaction with her presentation and noted that he, and his colleagues had been overwhelmingly convinced on the need to support the success of the policy.
Sani said, “With presentation made by the Deputy Governor of CBN on Financial System Stability, Aisha Ndanusa Ahmad on the planned limited cash withdrawal, required information on the merits of the policy has been given and will be communicated to the Senate in plenary through our report .
“The two Deputy Governors, having earlier been screened before serving their first tenures, need not to be screened again as unanimously agreed by members of the Committee.”
They were therefore asked to take a bow and go, following a motion moved by the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and seconded by Senator Danjuma Goje.
Earlier, Senator Sani Musa, (APC, Niger East), related a message from the people of Niger State to the panel.
Musa said, “I bring a message from the people of Niger State concerning our daughter and sister Aishah Ndanusa Ahmad.
“We are Proud of Aishah and consider her a jewel. The financial system has benefitted from her varied experience in the banking sector.
“She has put her critics to shame as they are unable to find her wanting in any area.
“She has done us proud and we thus pray the committee to grant her an opportunity to continue to serve the Nigerian economy.”
Similarly, Senator Goje also relayed a message from the people of Gombe State to his colleagues on the panel.
Goje said, “Our people would like to simply commend their son, Edward Lametek Adamu for his performance and request that he and his colleague be asked to take a bow.”
The Chairman of the Committee put the motion to a vote and it was unanimously carried.
The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance And Other Financial Institutions is expected to present its report to a full plenary session of the senate on Tuesday next week.