Who has seen the new naira notes?

This is a hard time for Nigerians. We are not only grappling with worsening fuel scarcity but also the scarcity of the redesigned banknotes. Between the two economic crises, I can’t say which is intolerable. With less than ten days to the deadline given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the use of […]

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This is a hard time for Nigerians. We are not only grappling with worsening fuel scarcity but also the scarcity of the redesigned banknotes. Between the two economic crises, I can’t say which is intolerable.

With less than ten days to the deadline given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the use of the old series of N200, N500, and N1000 notes, it is distressing that the new notes seem to be relatively scarce. Worst, some commercial banks are still issuing the old denominations over the counter and through Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) despite the CBN’s threat to sanction banks over failure to issue the redesigned naira notes; and though most commercial banks have started issuing the new notes, the outflow remains largely insufficient.

From the foregoing, one might conclude that the CBN is rationing the distribution of the new naira notes. But this would be absurd as the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, has insisted that there will be no extension after the January 31 deadline in the face of continuous debate on the appropriateness of the rigid timeline and pleas to either extend the deadline or allow for a flexible process that would allow the old naira notes to phase out over time. Given his insistence, Emefiele should intensify efforts to see to the mass production, distribution and circulation of the notes. Surely, rationing the distribution would only constrain circulation.

There are controversies as to whether the window given by the apex bank is feasible. Though most Nigerians have expressed optimism that the new notes would be fully in circulation on or before next Tuesday, I dare say that such hope is bleak given the outcry in all parts of the country which speaks of frustration with the short time frame. January 31 is a very ambitious and unrealistic timeframe.

Whether the CBN is prepared for the transition from the old notes to the new ones within the stipulated period remains unclear. Though the CBN governor has stated and restated the apex bank’s readiness for the transition, the situation proves otherwise.

Have we entered ‘one chance’? Most likely and most likely not. We still have five days to 31 January; let’s keep our fingers crossed that the CBN will either extend the deadline or print and disburse a sufficient amount of the new notes to banks that will be enough to go around.

Ezinwanne Onwuka can be reached via [email protected]

The post Who has seen the new naira notes?appeared first on Daily Trust.

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