Ahead of the January 31 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria for the phasing out of the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes, some mega-churches, schools and retailers have set time limits for the collection of the old currencies.
This came as the lingering shortage of old naira notes forced several commercial banks to shut their Automated Teller Machines in Lagos, Abuja and other states across the country.
Deposit Money Banks have been battling a shortage of old bills amid a directive by the CBN that lenders should load only their ATMs with the news notes, forbidding over-the-counter payment of customers with the new currencies.
However, amid long queues in banks across the country, findings by The PUNCH on Thursday indicated that a number of mega-churches, schools and retailers had stipulated earlier time limits for the collection of the old notes.
This, it was learnt, was aimed at saving the organizations from the burden and challenges associated with the exchange of the old naira notes for new ones.
A leading Pentecostal church, Deeper Christian Life Ministry, in a memo directed its church leaders to stop the collection of the old naira notes on January 29, 2023, about two days before the January 31 deadline set by the CBN.
The memo, a copy of which was obtained by The PUNCH was signed by the Deeper Christian Life Ministry Church Secretary, Pastor S.M. Afuwape.
The internal memo, titled, ‘lodgement of old naira notes’ read, “Calvary’s greetings to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is to inform you that the Central Bank of Nigeria deadline of 31st January 2023 on the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes in circulation is drawing near.
“The church will like to inform you to sensitize your members and the brethren to lodge all Tithes and Offerings collected in the Group on or before 29th January, 2023. Also, no old notes in the specified denominations above should be paid as offerings as from 29th January 2023. To this end, any old notes (in the prescribed denominations) brought to the headquarters which was not lodged in the bank will be paid for by the Group. Thanks for understanding and co-operation.”
Also, it further gathered that some provinces of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, had directed members to deposit old notes in their banks by January 26, about five days ahead of the CBN deadline.
This, it was said, would help to avoid a situation where members would have no choice but to use old notes as offerings and tithes in the church
On a WhatsApp platform of pastors in one of the RCCG provinces in Ota, Ogun State, members were advised to deposit old notes in banks or Point of Sale agents before the January 31 deadline.
The notice read in part, “Deposit all your old notes at your bank or the POS near you before 31st January 2023. Don’t bring them to church. Deadline for old notes acceptance Thursday, January 26, 2023.”
however, could not verify if the memo officially came from the RCCG.
Also, banks in Sango Ota were jam-packed as customers struggled to deposit old notes just as banks including, FBN, Fidelity and UBA and ATMs were still dispensing old notes a few days before the deadline.
Reacting to the development, a spokesman for the RCCG, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, said, “There is no official postponement regarding the use of new naira note. People should do what the government wants them to do. They should enable to take their old notes to the bank. We believe God will help the central bank because the new notes are not circulating outside but anything is possible before the January 31 deadline.
“We have not issued any statement but as much as possible, we believe everyone has been counseling their members on the old notes; not just about bringing it to church on Sundays, it is about ensuring our people do not suffer unnecessarily.”
Also, a Lagos-based Pentecostal church, New Covenant Mission, advised members to deposit old notes ahead of the CBN deadline.
In a WhatsApp platform, one of the pastors of the church directed members to ensure old notes are deposited by January 26, ahead of the deadline.
Similarly, findings show that the management of some primary and secondary schools have stopped the collection of old notes.
As a result, they have sent notices to parents advising them to deposit only the new notes in any cash transaction with their school.
The management of the Christ The Redeemer Nursery and Primary School, a school belonging to the RCCG, in a notice to parents, said, “Please be informed that in line with the CBN directives, the school selling points will stop collecting old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1,000 from tomorrow, January 26, 2023. Only new naira notes will be acceptable please.”
Also, a school, Gemstars Schools, in a notice to parents, said, “In compliance with CBN directives on the new naira note, the school wishes to inform our parents and guardians that we shall end the collection of the old naira note by 3:00 pm Thursday 26th January 2023. All payments are to be made with the new currency, bank transfer or teller. This is to enable the school to mop up and exchange the old currencies that are still in our custody.”
Furthermore, an Ogun State-based school, Royal Champions School, appealed to parents to deposit only new notes with the educational institution, while informing them that the collection of old notes stopped on Thursday.