Polls: INEC seeks exception from CBN cashless policy

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for exception on cash withdrawals under the new Naira redesign policy of the apex Bank, which was unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 23, 2022.

This according to Commission, would make cash available for some peculiarities which cannot be met with electronic transfer of monies for the February 25th and March 11 general elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the appeal during a courtesy call by its Management on the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday in Abuja.

Yakubu revealed that some of the service providers, especially transporters are required to be paid in cash and that aside from that, experience has shown that emergency situations do arise on election day that could warrant INEC use of cash.

“I am encouraged by the continued willingness of the apex bank to support the commission’s determination to deliver credible elections on February 25 and March 11, 2023.

“Particularly, the facilitation of activities necessary for the success of the election, in an area where the CBN has exclusive responsibility.

“Nigerian election is a huge and complex undertaking that requires the engagement of critical services and in line with the provisions of the extant laws and regulations, service providers are generally paid by means of electronic transfer to the accounts.

“However, there are equally critical areas, such as transportation and human support services that have to be immediately remunerated, either partially or in full before services are rendered.

“In addition, emergency situations may arise requiring immediate cash payments. Some of the critical service providers are unbanked. Over the years we have worked with the CBN and commercial banks to pay for such services seamlessly during general elections, as well as off-cycle and bye elections.

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“Over the years, the commission has also migrated all its accounts at national and state level to the CBN. And this arrangement has worked without encumbrances to our activities.

“In view of the recent policy, involving in the redesign of some denominations of our national currency and the limits placed on cash withdrawals and availability. We consider this meeting important in addressing some of the areas of concern with just 17 days to the 2023 general election.

“We are confident that arising from this meeting, we can assuage the anxiety expressed by some of our service providers who are determined to make the 2023 general election one of the best organised elections in Nigeria, but we cannot do it alone. That is why the Commission is mobilising every critical national institution for the success of the election. This meeting is part of this effort”, the INEC Chairman pleaded.

Resounding, the the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele while recalling the cordial relationship the apex Bank has being having with INEC, pledged that the CBN is not seen as an agent to destabilize the polls.

He said: “I will make sure that I do not allow ourselves as central bank to be seen as an agent that frustrated positive outcome of the elections.

On Sunday January 29, the CBN Governor, extended the deadline for the exchange of old naira notes, with the redesigned notes, and announced the extension of the deadline from January 31st to February 10, 2023.

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