Naira scarcity: Buhari promised ‘major decision’ in 7 days — but still silent 10 days later


It is 10 days today and President Muhammadu Buhari is still silent on how he intends to address the ongoing cash scarcity caused by the currency redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).


Buhari had given his approval for the introduction of the policy in October last year with a three-month deadline (January 31, 2023) to allow Nigerians deposit their old notes.


He had argued that Nigeria had a lot to gain from the change in naira notes.


Buhari added that he did not consider the period of three months for the change to the new notes as being short.


 “People with illicit money buried under the soil will have a challenge with this but workers, businesses with legitimate incomes will face no difficulties at all,” he had said.


The policy is also aimed at helping the CBN to better control money supply and aid security agencies in tackling illicit financial flow.


Since Buhari unveiled the new naira notes — N1000, N500, and N200 — to the public in November, 2022, implementation has been difficult.


Although Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, had said the policy has achieved a success rate of 75 percent, it has also led to a scarcity of cash — causing a nationwide hardship on Nigerians who are struggling to access the new naira notes.


Despite various interventions by the CBN (cash swap, a deadline extension to February 10, the involvement of the supreme court, and others) to ensure a seamless implementation of the policy, things have only got worse as many fear that the continued cash scarcity could lead to a breakdown of law and order.


Already, some commercial banks have shut down operations in some branches due to violent attacks on their staff members and facilities.


Many businesses have also been negatively impacted as traders, and fillings stations begin to reject the old naira notes in some states.


Buhari, speaking on these issues on February 3, said he had seen reports about cash shortages and the effect on local businesses and ordinary people.


He then asked Nigerians to give him seven days to resolve the crisis caused by the scarcity of the new naira notes.


“I will revert to the CBN and the Minting Company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” the president had said.


The seven days have since elapsed, but there is still no word from the president.

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