Buhari breaks silence over naira scarcity, says it’s necessary pain to curb corruption and grow Nigeria’s economy

The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has described the current hardship faced by Nigerians over the redesign of the new naira note as necessary ‘pain’ to curb endemic corruption and grow the nation’s economy.

The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Zainab Ahmed stated this during the weekly ministerial briefing at the State House in Abuja on Thursday, February 2, 2023.

The minister noted that the government is concerned but described the pain as transient.

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Ahmed said President Muhammadu Buhari is unhappy with the situation but by the same token likened it to a wound that needs to be dressed.

According to her, the harsh realities citizens are facing over the swap are temporary and a necessary price to pay for the nation’s economy to burgeon.

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The finance minister added that the new policy is timely and required to curb corruption, adding that there have been positive sides to the policy, evident in the huge mop-up of idle funds.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed commercial banks to start paying the redesigned naira notes to customers over the counter.

This was contained in a statement issued on Thursday, February 2, 2023, by the CBN Director Corporate Communication, Osita Nwanisobi.

According to him, the new directive was to alleviate the challenges that Nigerians are experiencing with getting access to the new notes, as well as reduce queues at the automated teller machines (ATMs) nationwide.

The statement explained that the payment of the new not is subjected to a maximum daily payout limit of N20,000.

Nwanisobi said the CBN observed with grave concern, the activities of persons who sell the newly redesigned banknotes and those who flagrantly abuse the legal tender by hurling wads of naira notes in the air and stamping on the currency at social functions.

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Nwanisobi said: “We have equally noticed the queues at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the country and an upward trend in the cases of people stocking and aggregating the newly introduced banknotes they serially obtain from ATMs for reasons best known to them.

“Also worrisome are the reported cases of unregistered persons and non-bank officials swapping banknotes for members of the public, purportedly on behalf of the CBN.

“We wish to state unequivocally that, contrary to the practice of these unpatriotic persons, it is unlawful to sell the Naira, hurl (spray), or stamp on the currency under any circumstance whatsoever. “

The statement quited Section 21(4) which states that “It shall also be an offence punishable under
Sub-section (1) of this section for any person to hawk, sell or otherwise trade in
the Naira notes, coins or any other note issued by the Bank.”

Nwanisobi said the CBN is collaborating with the Nigeria Police, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to address the unpatriotic practice.

He warned Nigerians, particularly those at social functions such as birthdays, weddings and funerals, to desist from disrespecting the naira or risk being arrested by law enforcement agencies.

He also admonish members of the public to embrace and adopt other payment channels for their transactions.

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