The Controversies of the New Naira Notes
By Matthew Atungwu
When Nigerians initially learned that the federal government was revamping several of the country’s currency denominations in October, last year, they had mixed emotions. The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, stated that the new notes would begin to circulate on December 15, 2022. Additionally, it was said that the old N1000, N500, and N200 notes would cease to be legal tender on January 31, 2023. The government said that some dishonest politicians had amassed billions of naira in secret bank accounts and planned to use the money to sabotage the general elections that were set to begin on February 25. How did those billions end up?
Because of the amount of mistrust between the public and the government, conspiracy theories began to spread quickly! The Finance Minister’s outright denial that she was involved in the unveiling of the new policy did not make matters better. She alleged that “no consultation with her ministry was conducted prior to the policy’s announcement, and she believes the timing of the policy is incorrect.” The CBN Governor said that he did not want permission from the Minister to introduce new policies and added that he was answerable to the President.
Only after Garba Shehu, President Buhari’s spokesperson, stated that “the president said the CBN’s decision had his support and he is certain that Nigeria will gain a lot by doing so,” was this element of the debate put to rest? The proposal, according to the administration, would force those who had stolen money and had stashed it in safes, septic tanks, and warehouses to deposit it in banks by January 31. There were restrictions on how much may be placed each day by both private individuals and corporate entities. The National Assembly had made several attempts to get the CBN to extend the deadline. So far, they have not been successful. What precisely is happening?
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Emefiele was suddenly wanted for arrest by the EFCC in preparation for potential legal action. The national discourse was driven by the claim that he funded terrorists. He was charged with serious corruption. There were counterforce pushbacks. Emefiele was being attacked because he had implemented a strict program that targeted the social elite.
Emefiele was said to be fleeing like an ordinary criminal. The EFCC was not given permission by a court to arrest Emefiele. Everyone was clamoring to know what was happening specifically. News broke that the CBN governor had covertly traveled back to Nigeria over the course of this farce. The DSS men searched the governor’s office but failed to take him into custody. According to a different allegation, the Chief of Defence Staff had sent soldiers to protect the troubled governor. Two security forces engaged in a conflict over protection and arrest? Who gave the Army its orders? Who issued DSS instructions? Does the president know about the widespread insanity? Who wants Emefiele’s head?
Uncertainty and controversy surrounding the governor of the CBN are unacceptable. The economy would collapse in other climates. There may be nothing to fall into because the economy is already weak. A declining economy like that of Nigeria need not fear a decline. However, there is so much uncertainty in the country that foreign investors will undoubtedly be keeping an eye on what happens next. Emefiele himself had engaged in a number of contentious activities, one of which was his attempt to run for president while running the Bank of Bankers. He looks to be immune to harm since he is popular with the establishment.
There are still many unanswered questions, even with the deadline extension. Where are the new notes? This raises the question of why the banks are hesitant to issue the new notes. Is it accurate to say that certain Point of Sale (POS) operators use the new money, despite banks’ claims to the contrary? How much money has been deposited into banks since the announcement in October? How can the compliance of the banks be checked? What are politicians that are struggling planning to do next?
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, an APC presidential contender, recently screamed out that the currency and petrol shortages were caused to undermine the polls in February. According to Buhari, he wants to leave a legacy of completely free and fair elections. He has made an effort to stay out of the political fight and has stated that the outcome should not be determined by the amount of money spent. Here’s some irony. Now that he has the presidency and has maintained his authority for eight or so years, our president wants to distance himself from the system. It’s unclear how the lawmakers will respond just yet. But after witnessing the decay of the system up close, one can grow into a statesman.
Where are the new currency notes in the eyes of the average person? I haven’t seen the N200 notes yet. The N1000 note wasn’t available to me until two weeks ago. This has made the country’s degree of desperation worse. It can be advantageous to abruptly change the currency, especially if the country’s security is in danger. Miyetti Allah was one of the first groups to request an extension of time. They said that they would require extra time since they keep a lot of money. The administration has, appropriately, remained steadfast. No giving in. Kidnappers and thieves who hold large sums of money they have obtained as ransom from their victims must be apprehended via the web.
Any nation’s central bank is or ought to be shielded from politics and politicking. When all other economic institutions fail, it should be the last one still standing. However, the CBN under Emefiele has been taken over by influential groups with no regard for the needs of the general populace. Emefiele is a representation of that coup. He’ll get a bad review from history. But for the time being, Mr. CBN Governor, permit hungry and helpless Nigerians access to the fresh money.
If the CBN is unable to execute its orders to the banks, it will be because the bankers view the CBN as a weak and ineffective organization that can just bark and not bite. Now let’s put an end to the ambiguity!
The Controversies of the New Naira Notes