Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has said the country’s banknotes, the naira are long overdue for a change since it has been in circulation for about 20 years.
Speaking at the launch of the newly redesigned new naira banknotes on Wednesday in Abuja, Buhari noted that the new banknotes have unique security features that make them difficult to counterfeit.
He said that new banknotes would assist the central bank to design and implement better monetary policy objectives.
According to the Nigerian leader, the CBN has the power to issue and redesign the naira. He disclosed that in line with this power, the CBN approached him earlier this year to seek his permission to embark on a currency redesign project.
‘’There was an urgent need to take control of currency in circulation and to address the hoarding of naira banknotes outside the banking system, the shortage of clean and fit banknotes in circulation, and the increase in counterfeiting of high-denomination banknotes. It is on this basis that I gave my approval for the redesign of the N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, told journalists after the launch of the redesigned banknotes that the apex bank would work with law enforcement agencies to track large withdrawals from the banks.
Emefiele explained that henceforth, the amount of money that can be withdrawn from the counter will be reduced drastically and that rigourous processes and procedures will be introduced to check withdrawals.
According to him, the ongoing exercise of redesigning of the banknotes and the controls to be introduced will ensure a steady transition into a cashless economy.
“There is no economy imbued with the thinking that it has to be a cash economy; the world has moved from predominantly cash to a cashless economy. And I think Nigeria and the Central Bank of Nigeria are prepared to move towards a cashless economy. And that is why following the redesign and issuance of this note, we will insist that cashless will be nationwide.
“We will restrict the volume of cash that people can withdraw over the counter. If you need to draw large volumes of cash, you will fill out uncountable forms; we will take your data, whether it’s your BVN or NIN so that our law enforcement agencies like EFCC and ICPC can follow you and be sure that you are taking that money for a good purpose,” local media reports on Thursday quoted Emefiele as saying.
Emefiele, however, assured Nigerians that the redesigning of the banknotes is not targeted at any group of Nigerians, adding that the apex bank by law, has the mandate to reissue and redesign currency for the country, and for Nigerian people, every five to eight years.
The new banknotes are expected to be introduced for public use by December 15, 2022, while the old banknotes will cease to be legal tenders by the end of February 2023.