The National Orientation Agency has revealed that from the feedback received from its field officers who related with citizens nationwide, a large number of Nigerians have a wrong perception of the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
This was as the agency noted that there was a need to redouble efforts towards creating more awareness on the policy.
Addressing journalists on Monday in Abuja, the Director-General, NOA, Dr Garba Abari, stated that, amongst other issues, some Nigerians were of the opinion that the time allocated for the change of new naira notes was insufficient and many people could not meet up with the deadline.
Abari said, “People were of the opinion that NOA’s sensitisation campaign should have commenced earlier before the new naira redesign policy of the CBN commenced, so as to gain citizens buying the idea.
“It was observed that there were large number of people who misconceived or have wrong perception of the new naira redesign policy of the CBN. There is the need to redouble efforts towards creating more awareness on the policy.
“Some people were of the opinion that time allocated for the change of new Naira notes is insufficient and many people can’t meet the deadline.”
The NOA-DG further noted that banks were culpable concerning the issue of naira notes scarcity which affected many businesses.
He said three weeks after the introduction of the policy, the NOA approached the CBN for a partnership that would take the communication to the grassroots.
Abari noted that the NOA reasoned that the redesign would have huge impact for Nigerians living in the communities, especially those living where banks do not operate and those without internet access.
He added, “We observed that commercial banks were not issuing the new naira notes to the public as a result most people in the rural areas said they were yet to see the redesigned naira notes.
“People expressed concern over the non-availability of the new naira notes in circulation which in turn affected their businesses.
“It was also observed that before the deadline, some people have commenced the rejection of old naira notes which is contrary to the CBN’s directives. Members of the public also observed that the banks were still issuing the old naira notes to customers.”
Abari added that many people complained of shortages in circulation of the new naira notes leading to doubts on how to exchange their old naira notes to the new ones.
He said, “The people were not convinced with the timing as there are few days to go yet old naira notes are still dispensed by banks.
“People without western education expressed fears in opening bank accounts. Also, some people didn’t take the currency design seriously until the sensitisation programme was embarked upon by the NOA.
“Most of the market men and women complained of not having bank accounts. Members of the public believed the naira redesign policy is a misplaced priority, as there are a lot of Nigerians living below poverty line.”
The NOA-DG further revealed that it was observed that many people still had the old notes stocked at home because they didn’t have account in any bank, adding that marketers and PoS agents started rejecting the old notes earlier thereby inflicting hardship on the people.
Speaking on the forthcoming 2023 National Population and Housing Census, Abari said the NOA had been working with the National Population Commission on the successful conduct of the proposed 2023 census.
He said in order to create awareness, community orientation and mobilisation officers of the NOA in the 774 alongside the NPC local government controllers jointly designed awareness creation activities for the forthcoming census.
He added that during engagements with Nigerians on the field, it was observed that many young Nigerians are desirous of more information about the census having not experienced any since their birth.
He said, “Many wants to know the exact period of the exercise. Some Nigeria have preconceived notion about the concept census. They believe it is a political activity meant to enhance political advantage to some parts of the country.
“Many sought explanation on the concept of ‘digital census,’ which is being promoted as the main feature of the planned exercise.
“Many also want to know how the housing aspect of the census will be done. Citizens queried why the census is planned the same period as the election. Most people were of the view that more awareness should be carried out in dispelling conception on the 2023 census exercise.”
Noting that there was a need to continually educate the people about government’s policies and programmes, he added that the political events associated with the general election was overshadowing the census awareness but the strategy was to continuously sensitise Nigerians on the exercise.