President Muhammadu Buhari has allayed concerns over the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) cash swap and the naira redesign project, promising Nigerians that the apex bank was doing everything necessary to ensure that their businesses are not hurt.
Despite the unprecedented pressure being put on the president by some state governors, politicians, and lawmakers, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who threatened to arrest the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the president promised Nigerians that the central bank, commercial banks and other stakeholders were doing everything necessary to ensure that the entire supply chain does not experience disruption arising from the currency swap policy.
It would be recalled that last year’s October, the CBN announced that it would redesign the N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes with January 31 as the deadline for the return of the old notes to the banks.
At the unveiling of the new naira notes at the State House on November 23, 2022, the CBN Governor, Emefiele told journalists that the January 31 deadline was sacrosanct.
But as the deadline draws closer, more pressure has been mounted on the CBN for a review of the policy and the extension of the deadline.
Reacting to reports of long queues of people waiting for hours for their turn to deposit old notes and get new ones, which have triggered public anger, President Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, insisted that the currency swap had also become necessary to prevent counterfeits, corruption, and funding of terrorism.
“While taking note that the poorest section of society is facing hardship as they often keep hard cash at home for various expenses, President Buhari gave strong assurances that the government will not leave them to their own fate.
He reiterated that a number of initiatives by the Central Bank and all commercial banks are underway to speed up distribution of the new notes and do all that is necessary to forestall cash squeeze and chaos,” the statement read in part.