The controversy over the redesigning of naira notes may have been resolved as President Muhammadu Buhari clarified that the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to launch new designs and replace high value Naira notes had his support.
A verbal row ensued between the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele and theMinister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmad over the propriety or otherwise of the policy.
CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele had, Wednesday October 26, 2022, said the apex bank would redesign the country’s currency from 200 naira denomination to 1,000 naira notes, which would come into effect December 15, 2022.
He said the action was taken in order to take control of the currency in circulation just as he posited that the bulk of the nation’s currency notes were outside bank vaults and that the CBN would not allow the situation to continue.
Emefiele had said the planned policy was in line with Section 19, Subsections (a) and (b) of the CBN Act 2007, upon which the management of the CBN sought and got Buhari’s approval to redesign, produce, and circulate new series of banknotes at N200, N500, and N1,000 levels.
Disowning the policy however, the minister, had while responding to a question raised by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central) during the 2023 budget defence session with the Senate Committee on Finance, warned the apex bank of the consequences that may arise from redesigning 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes.
“Just two days after announcement of the policy, value of Naira to a US dollar has risen from N740 to N788 to a US dollar due to rush in exchange of stashed naira notes for foreign currencies, particularly the dollar.
“To me, the policy may be a well conceived one, but the timing going by the realities on ground, is very wrong as the Naira may fall to as low as N1,000 to a US dollar before January 31, 2023 fixed for full implementation of the policy,” Bamidele had said.
Surprisingly, the minister, in her response, said she and her minister of state were not aware of the policy as they only heard of it from the media.
“Distinguished Senators, we were not consulted at the Ministry of Finance by CBN on the planned naira redesigning and cannot comment on it as regards merits or otherwise.
“However, as a Nigerian privileged to be at the top of Nigeria’s fiscal management, the policy, as rolled out at this time, portends serious consequences on the value of the naira against other foreign currencies.
“I will however appeal to this committee to invite the CBN governor for required explanations as regards merits of the planned policy and rightness or otherwise of its implementation now.”
But President Buhari clarified his position on this during a Hausa radio interview with the famous journalist, Halilu Ahmed Getso; and Kamaluddeen Sani Shawai, to be aired Wednesday Morning on Tambari TV on Nilesat.
The president expressed confidence that the nation would gain a lot by doing so.
The president said he was convinced by reasons given to him by the CBN that the economy stands to benefit from reduction in inflation, currency counterfeiting and the excess cash in circulation.
He said 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 said.
In the interview, the president also addressed issues of food security and national security, among others, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Mr Garba Shehu, said in a statement in Abuja.
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