On Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the re-designed Naira Notes, three weeks earlier than originally scheduled.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier picked December 15 for the unveiling of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 notes. But the apex bank announced Tuesday that the launch has been fast-tracked to Wednesday Nov. 23, to make more time for the old notes to be returned to the banks.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Abuja launched the new Naira banknotes, expressing delight that the redesigned currencies are locally produced by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) PLC. pic.twitter.com/zSTaMY6AYG
— Government of Nigeria (@NigeriaGov) November 23, 2022
The naira’s redesign, which marks the first time in 19 years that Nigeria is redesigning its currency notes, has been criticized as a witch hunt by the central bank. But the financial regulator said the decision is, among other things, to curtail the amount of cash outside the banks’ vaults.
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The CBN governor Godwin Emefiele said at a briefing after the ceremony before the Federal Executive Council meeting, that the naira notes redesign is not a means to target some people.
Emefiele said members of the public need to desist from making such speculation as there is no need to perpetuate any such information. He added that the CBN will intensify the monitoring process and interrogate the process of withdrawals.
Emefiele disclosed that there will be heavy restriction on the volume of cash that people can withdraw over the counter, as it works with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to monitor the purpose of any heavy transactions.
The CBN said one of the reasons it took on the task to redesign the naira notes after 19 years is to quell counterfeiting. Emefiele said the redesigned currency note can never be counterfeited. He added that to forestall such occurrence, the CBN will redesign the notes after every five to eight years, according to global best practices.
The CBN had earlier noted that the naira redesign will aid its push for financial inclusion, boosting cashless economic policies. Emefiele said as the redesigned naira notes go into circulation today, it underscores the CBN’s determination to make Nigeria a cashless economy like in other climes.
Buhari also highlighted the importance of redesigning the naira notes during the ceremony. He said parts of the benefits are; addressing issue of illicit financial flows, corruption, improving Nigeria’s economy as well as lifting the naira’s value.
The president also noted that the currency redesign will also boost the CBN’s Monetary policy initiative. According to him, the first set of currency which was printed locally by the Nigeria printing and minting company, will fundamentally prevent counterfeiting of the naira notes.
The CBN governor said earlier that as at the end of September 2022, N2.73 Trillion out of the N3.23 trillion currency in circulation, was outside the vaults of commercial banks across the country, and supposedly held by the public. This is believed to have impacted the value of the currency.
Apparently, the central bank moved to redesign the naira in hope that it will force the currency hoarders to return cash to the banks.