Following the difficulties experienced by Nigerians as a result of the ongoing cash crunch, which is a fallout of the Naira notes redesign policy, President Muhammad Buhari has addressed Nigerians.
Recall, CBN had originally fixed January 31 as the deadline for the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes to be returned to banks and cease to be legal tender. But the deadline was extended to February 10, as outrage heightened from Nigerians over the scarcity of banknotes.
But before the February 10 deadline could elapse, Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states approached the Supreme Court to stop the CBN from going ahead with the deadline.
The confusion over the deadline for the naira notes swap took a turn for the worse on Wednesday after the Supreme Court adjourned to February 22, 2023, the suit filed by some governors to challenge the naira redesign programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Also, there has been silence on the part of the apex bank since the court gave its ruling. The silence threw Nigerians into confusion about the state of the old naira notes, which were widely rejected but accepted in some places.
Amid the anger and frustration, CBN on Tuesday, February 14 declared that the old ₦200, ₦500, and ₦1000 notes ceased being legal tender in Nigeria on Friday, February 10, 2023.
In a live broadcast yesterday, Buhari said in the last quarter of 2022, he authorised the CBN to redesign the N200, N500, and N1000 Nigerian banknotes and approved that the redesigned naira notes should circulate concurrently with the old banknotes before the old notes cease to be legal tender.
Buhari however, stated only the 200 old naira notes will continue to be legal tender till Monday, April 10 when the old N200 notes cease to be legal tender. This means that the N500 and N1000 old naira notes has ceased to be legal tender.
“I have given approval to the CBN that the old N200 bank naira notes be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from Feb. 10, 2023 to April 10 2023,” Buhari said
The Nigerian President also said all existing old N1000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at the CBN and designated points. This is in line with Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007.
Speaking further, he said when this administration commenced its first term in 2015, the Currency-in-Circulation was only N1.4 trillion.
The proportion of currency outside banks grew from 78% in 2015 to 85% in 2022. As of October 2022, therefore, currency in circulation had risen to N3.23 trillion; out of which only N500 billion was within the Banking System while N2.7 trillion remained permanently outside the system; thereby distorting the financial policy and efficient management of inflation.
According to Buhari, the huge volume of bank notes outside the banking system has proven to be practically unavailable for economic activities and by implication, retard the attainment of potential economic growth.
With the commencement of the CBN cash programme, about N2.1 trillion out of the banknotes previously held outside the banking system had been successfully retrieved.
He also noted that for Nigerians are not unnecessarily burdened, the CBN shall ensure that new notes become more available and accessible to our citizens through the banks.
In addition, the apex bank shall intensify collaboration with anti-corruption agencies, so as to ensure that any institution or person(s) found to have impeded or sabotaged the implementation should be made to bear the full weight of the law, as directed by the President.
“Let me re-assure Nigerians, that strengthening our economy, enhancing security and blockage of leakages associated with illicit financial flows remain top priority of our administration. And I shall remain committed to my oath of protecting and advancing the interest of Nigerians and the nation, at all times, Buhari declared.