As usual, a specie adopted, baptized into and used to different changes are now faced with the newest policy of naira redesign. Needless to say, that this policy has generated a lot of ruckuses, hullabaloo and turned many warlords to emissaries, “unsolicited emissaries.” Little wonder, elections knock and everyone especially the politicians in a twinkling of an eye became conscience keepers, road wardens and gatekeepers of hope and respite. A good reason why Nigerians must be wary, very wary to mark out those shading crocodile tears in this time of economic commotion, hunger, pain and naira crunch.
The Central Bank of Nigeria as established in section 1 of the CBN Act (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) is well founded on five objectives to wit:
a. Ensure monetary and price stability;
b. Issue legal tender currency in Nigeria;
c. Maintain external reserves to safeguard the international value of the legal tender currency:
d. Promote a sound financial system in Nigeria; and
e. Act as banker and provide economic financial advice to the Federal Government.
On this mandate, the Central Bank of Nigeria set out through the extant laws to redesign N200, N500 and N1000 naira notes. It is on the turmoil and dust being raised in respect of the policy, this paper posits at discussing the posture of the policy.
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The Policy of Naira Redesign
The Central Bank of Nigeria as the apex bank in charge of monetary policy and economic regulations is vested with the requisite authority in section 20(1)(2) and (3) of the Act to embark on naira redesign subject to the approval of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is on the wing of the above section the CBN sought and got the approval of the President to redesign N200, N500 and N1,000 naira notes which according to the Bank is aimed at:
a. Addressing currency fraud;
b. Checkmating the activities of kidnappers, bandits and terrorists;
c. Lowering the rate of inflation; and
d. Control of the amount of money in circulation.
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The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele in a press statement recounted the successes of the policy stating that it had recovered almost 2 trillion of old naira notes out of 2.7 trillion in circulation. At this point a prudent mind would not be penalized to ponder on and question; over 2 trillion naira in circulation and Nigerians are wallowing in abject poverty destitute and servitude? It must be a miracle, if not corruption by our undertakers protected by political affinity.
Election is fast approaching, as expected tongues are wagging, dust is being raised here and there and the polity and politicking is being hit up by politicians in respect of the dearth of the new naira notes. I sympathize with the poor masses especially those in unbanked areas including myself who has spent hours on que on empty stomach without a trace of the new notes. I dare say that even as the Christian song “count your blessings” suggest we must count our blessings and name them one by one especially as it relates to the naira redesign policy.
As a nation we must be vigilant, wary and studious of the clandestine and surreptitious move by some politicians to buy and hoard the new notes and use it as weapon against hapless Nigerians on the day of election. The CBN Governor had at different occasions restated the availability of new notes in circulation. The non-willingness and/or readiness or refusal of Bank officials to dispense same and their commitment to collaborate with politicians to make a market out of it thereby creating artificial scarcity leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
At this turbulent and difficult time of both naira and fuel scarcity we must as the Bible enjoined be wise as the serpent in order not to be used by politicians to truncate a process that may engineer sanity and decency in the forthcoming election. We must also be wary of politicians who have proven countlessly to be wolves but hide in sheep clothing in the name of service to the people rushing like a whirlwind to court in pursuit of restraining orders against the implementation of the naira redesign policy. Remember not all that glitters are gold. I make bold to say that in the face of all the confusion and hardship, our gain in the policy of naira redesign outweighs our loss. The proper and seamless implementation of the policy will:
a. defeat ransom taking by kidnappers;
b. strengthen the naira against dollar;
c. address inflation; and above all
d. reduce the rate of vote buying in the forthcoming election.
It is therefore a blessing and not a curse, if we must refuse the call to be used as tool to frustrate implementation of the naira redesign policy, we will enjoy the process and sanity it will engineer in our polity. The drums and echoes destabilization being spread around by some elements are handiwork of some politicians to scuttle and compromise the election process while using our sorrowful and pitiable state as a ground.
Nigerians have survived difficult times and this won’t be an exception, it is sympathetic that the apparatus of implementation is failing us thereby making us suffer and go hungry all day. Implementation has been a major challenge in our political sector, this must not go down the drain like others. Government must rise to face the implementation of this policy squarely, be committed and ready in punishing errant Bank officials commercializing the new notes distribution chain. Nigerians must also play their own by being patient in the process and support the government actualize the purpose of the policy. As a nation, the time is not ripe than now which we must take on the resolve, to standfast and steadfast so we could overcome now and beyond.
Stephen Peter Okangla writes from the University of Maiduguri, Borno state.
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CBN Act, 2007
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https://thenigerialawyer.com/naira-redesign-supreme-court-restrain-fg-from-enforcing-naira-deadline/ accessed 8 February 2023