With less than two weeks to the 31 January deadline fixed by the CBN for the phasing out of the old Naira banknotes, there appears to be a scarcity of new notes as many banks, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), and Point of Sale (PoS) outlets are still dispensing the old Naira notes. Many Nigerians have not physically seen or transacted business with the new notes. The CBN introduced the redesigned banknotes on 15 December 2022, with the intention of controlling inflation, mopping up currency outside the banking system, fighting corruption, stopping counterfeiting, and discouraging payment of huge cash to kidnappers and bandits among others.
Many believe the apex bank would have no choice but to extend its deadline in the interest of the nation’s economy. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has however insisted that there will be no extension of the deadline, reassuring the nation that the new redesigned Naira notes have been printed in sufficient quantity to cater for the needs of the country. However, poor logistics, manifested in the inadequate circulation of the redesigned notes is threatening the Naira redesign scheme roll out process. Given the current situation in the banks, it is very unlikely that the new notes would have circulated adequately at the expiration of the deadline.
The hasty implementation of the policy continues to adversely affect business operations and individuals, especially those living in rural areas. Also, in places where they are available, the newly redesigned notes are reportedly rejected by traders, artisans, and transporters over fears of counterfeiting. Following these concerns, the Senate had asked the apex bank to move the deadline to the end of June, citing the hardship Nigerians will face given the hasty enforcement. Despite the request, the CBN doesn’t seem to budge as it is insistent on going through with the deadline. To enforce compliance with the CBN’s directive to dispense the newly redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes via ATMs by banks, erring banks will face stiff penalties. While the banks are rationing the disbursement of the new notes, currency traffickers are allegedly colluding with some banks staff to mop up the little available new notes released to them by the CBN. The CBN has in recent weeks intensified its nationwide enlightenment campaign on the redesigned new notes, urging Nigerians to accept and respect the currency as a national symbol, highlighting that the new notes have been designed with enhanced quality features that make it difficult to be counterfeited. While the efforts of the monetary authorities in implementing the policy is commendable, it is evident that more needs to be done in improving the logistics involved in the circulation of the new notes and curtailing the activities of currency traffickers and saboteurs in order to achieve a seamless transition