Home Politics <strong>New naira notes: whose orders will Nigerians follow?</strong>

New naira notes: whose orders will Nigerians follow?

<strong>New naira notes: whose orders will Nigerians follow?</strong>

The Supreme Court on 15 February ruled that the old N200, N500, and N1000 naira notes are still recognized as legal tender in Nigeria after it had earlier restrained the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from implementing the February 10 deadline for the use of the old notes.

Three state governments, Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara dragged the federal government and the CBN to the apex court to halt the implementation of the extended deadline for the use of the old notes.

The three earlier governments were joined by Katsina, Cross River, Ogun, Ekiti, Sokoto, Lagos, and Ondo as parties in the suit to challenge the legality of the naira swap policy issued by the federal government through the CBN.

However, after the Supreme Court order, the federal government still insists that the February 10 deadline for the use of the old notes stands. Most bank customers were confused as commercial banks rejected the old naira notes they wanted to deposit.

President Muhammadu Buhari however defended the new currency redesign policy in a live broadcast. He admitted the policy has caused hardship but still maintained his backing for the CBN saying the policy had achieved some success.  

“I have found it necessary to address you today, on the state of the nation and to render account on the efforts of our administration to sustain and strengthen our economy, enhance the fight against corruption and sustain our gains in the fight against terrorism and insecurity which has, undoubtedly, been impacted by several internal and external factors,” his speech read in parts.

“Particularly, I am addressing you, as your democratically elected President, to identify with you and express my sympathy, over the difficulties being experienced as we continue the implementation of new monetary policies, aimed at boosting our economy and tightening the loopholes associated with money laundering.

“Let me re-assure Nigerians that strengthening our economy, enhancing security, and blockage of leakages associated with illicit financial flows remain the top priorities of our administration. And I shall remain committed to my oath of protecting and advancing the interest of Nigerians and the nation, at all times.

“In the last quarter of 2022, I authorized the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign the N200, N500, and N1000 Nigerian banknotes.

New Naira Notes

“For a smooth transition, I similarly approved that the redesigned banknotes should circulate concurrently with the old bank notes, till 31 January 2023, before the old notes, cease to be legal tender.

“In appreciation of the systemic and human difficulties encountered during implementation and in response to the appeal of all citizens, an extension of ten days was authorized till 10th February 2023 for the completion of the process. All these activities are being carried out within the ambit of the Constitution, the relevant law under the CBN Act 2007, and in line with global best practices.

“I am not unaware of the obstacles placed on the path of innocent Nigerians by unscrupulous officials in the banking industry, entrusted with the process of implementation of the new monetary policy. I am deeply pained and sincerely sympathize with you all, over these unintended outcomes.

“To stem this tide, I have directed the CBN to deploy all legitimate resources and legal means to ensure that our citizens are adequately educated on the policy; enjoy easy access to cash withdrawal through the availability of the appropriate amounts of currency; and ability to make deposits.

“During the extended phase of the deadline for currency swap, I listened to invaluable pieces of advice from well-meaning citizens and institutions across the nation.

“I similarly consulted widely with representatives of the State Governors as well as the Council of State. Above all, as an administration that respects the rule of law, I have also noted that the subject matter is before the courts of our land and some pronouncements have been made.

“To further ease the supply pressures, particularly to our citizens, I have given approval to the CBN that the old N200 bank notes be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023, to April 10, 2023, when the old N200 notes cease to be legal tender.

“In line with Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, all existing old N1000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at the CBN and designated points.

“Let me assure Nigerians that our administration will continue to assess the implementation with a view to ensuring that Nigerians are not unnecessarily burdened. In this regard, the CBN shall ensure that new notes become more available and accessible to our citizens through the banks.” Those were some parts of President Buhari’s speech. 

Meanwhile, in Kaduna State, Governor Nasiru El-rufai had directed all Ministries, Departments, and Agencies to continue to accept payment in both the old and new notes. El-rufai through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, said the directive is in line with the standing order of the Supreme Court. 

“In line with the subsisting order of the Supreme Court, the Kaduna State government has directed its ministries, departments, and agencies to ensure that their collection agents continue to accept payments made in all denominations of naira, old and new.

“The laws of Kaduna State do not allow personnel of government agencies to be involved in cash collection of revenues. The collection agents authorised by the state government agencies do offer citizens a rout for cash payments, and are expected to comply with the subsisting Court order.”

So, President Buhari is in one camp with the CBN, while governor El-rufai is in one camp with the Supreme Court while Nigerians are left in the middle without knowing whose order to follow, the Supreme Court, Buhari, CBN or El-rufai?

Author: Kangmwa Gofwen

Lagos Bureau Chief, Nigeria