Nigeria reissues old banknote as cash fiasco threatens to disrupt election

Abuja, Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed the central bank of Nigeria to re-issue the old 200 naira ($0.43) banknotes withdrawn a few days ago due to growing concerns that the introduction of the new currency has failed. could disrupt the general election later this month.

Violent protests have broken out in recent weeks as millions of people struggle to get new, redesigned products The 200-, 500-, and 1,000-naira banknotes were canceled on February 10, despite a Supreme Court ruling two days earlier that the planned currency swap should be suspended. only.

Now, Nigeria’s Independent National Election Commission (INEC) has warning report Banks’ inability to distribute enough new cash could make it difficult to pay the temporary staff and security guards needed to run the thousands of polls for the general election. and Congress on Feb. 25. CNN has reached out to INEC for comment.

Buhari unveiled the redesigned currency last November with the aim of curbing counterfeiting and hoarding of large sums outside the banking system.

But in scenes reminiscent of Chaos broke out in India When the country attempted to swap its two largest bills in 2016, many Nigerians queued for hours at withdrawal points in a desperate attempt to get enough money to cover their daily expenses.

That shortfall has led to temper tantrums and hardship, especially for those working in the cash-based informal economy and for citizens living in rural areas. Protests are spreading across the country and bank branches have been damaged.

In a televised broadcast on Thursday, Buhari expressed sympathy for the struggling Nigerians and announced that the old 200 naira bill would be back in circulation in 60 days. He said bills with higher denominations were still canceled but could be redeemed at the central bank and other designated points.

He also assured Nigerians that the cash supply will improve in the coming days. Buhari said he has directed the central bank to “make sure that new paper currencies become more readily available and accessible to our people through banks.”

Last month, the central bank said that of the 3.23 trillion Nigerian naira ($6.9 billion) in circulation as of October last year, “only 500 billion naira is in the banking industry” while a whopping 2.7 trillion naira ($5.8 billion) is “held permanently in people’s homes.

In his speech on Thursday, Buhari revealed that about 80% of that money has been returned to banks since disclosure of the new note in November.

“I have been reliably informed that since the beginning of this scheme, approximately 2.1 trillion naira ($4.5 billion) of the former banknotes are kept outside the system,” he said. bank, has been successfully recovered.


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