President Muhammadu Buhari Sunday said the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to launch new designs and replace high-value naira notes had his support.
CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele had, during a special briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, disclosed that the apex bank would, following approval by the president, start circulating newly redesigned N100, N200, N500 and N1000 naira notes from December 15.
But the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had on Friday during a 2023 budget defence session with the Senate Committee on Finance, countered Emefiele on the proposal, saying her ministry was not consulted by CBN on the planned naira redesigning and that she could not comment on it as regards it merits or otherwise.
The minister had said, “Distinguished Senators, we were not consulted at the Ministry of Finance by CBN on the planned naira redesigning and cannot comment on it as regards merits or otherwise.
“However as a Nigerian privileged to be at the top of Nigeria’s fiscal management, the policy as rolled out at this time portends serious consequences on the value of the naira against other foreign currencies.
“I will however appeal to this committee to invite the CBN governor for required explanations as regards merits of the planned policy and rightness or otherwise of its implementation now.”
But on Sunday, Buhari, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, emphasised that he supports the CBN’s decision to redesign the naira notes.
The president said he was convinced that the nation would gain a lot by doing so.
Buhari was quoted to have stated these in a Hausa radio interview with a veteran journalist, Halilu Ahmed Getso and Kamaluddeen Sani Shawai for Tambari TV.
The president said reasons given to him by the CBN convinced him that the economy stood to benefit from a reduction in inflation, currency counterfeiting and the excess cash in circulation.
He said he did not consider the period of three months for the change to the new notes as being short.
‘‘People with illicit money buried under the soil will have a challenge with this but workers, businesses with legitimate incomes will face no difficulties at all,’’ he said.
The president was also said to have, in the interview, addressed issues of food security and national security, among others.
Recall that Emefiele at the briefing in Abuja last week, stated, “In recent times, currency management has faced several daunting challenges that have continued to grow in scale and sophistication with attendant and unintended consequences for the integrity of both the CBN and the country.”
The CBN governor had explained that there was significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public, with statistics showing that over 85 per cent of monies in circulation were outside the vaults of commercial banks.
“N2.73 trillion out of the N3.23 trillion in circulation exists outside the vault of the commercial banks.
“Evidently, currency in circulation has more than doubled since 2015, raising from N1.46 trillion in December 2015 to N3.23 trillion as at September 2022,” he had said.
He had also said that the apex bank was convinced that the incidents of terrorism and kidnapping will minimise as access to large volumes of money outside the banking sector used as a source of funds for ransom payment will begin to dry up.