CBN governor Emefiele says Nigeria lacks capacity to print new notes as Buhari’s 7-day promise to resolve naira scarcity fails

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele has said the apex bank does not have the capacity to print adequate new naira notes.

Emefiele made the disclosure on Friday, February 10, 2023, when he briefed the emergency meeting of the National Council of State.

A source who spoke PREMIUM TIMES on Friday stated that Emefiele on Friday told the leaders that the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (The Mint), suffers capacity constraints, resulting in the failure to print adequate new notes to replace the old N200, N500 and 1,000 notes.

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“The Mint has run out of papers to print N500 and 1,000 notes. They have placed orders with a German firm and De La Rue of the UK (for papers) but they have been placed on a long waiting list, so their orders cannot be met now.

“The Mint had received CBN’s request to print 70million copies of the new notes, totalling N126billion to be pumped into circulation by today (yesterday), The Mint doesn’t have the capacity,” the source said.

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It was gathered that Buhari was non-committal at the meeting and barely spoke, the source added. He left the meeting as the time for the Muslim’s Jummah prayer drew close and his deputy, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, took over.

Osinbajo said the president would take a decision.

Meanwhile, seven days after President Muhammadu Buhari promised to address the cash crisis that hit the country following the naira redesign and old notes swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the new and old naira notes have remained elusive.

In December 2022, the Godwin Emefiele-led CBN introduced the new notes amid efforts to fight corruption, terrorism, counterfeiting and related crimes, with a January 31, 2023 deadline.

However, Nigerians have had a hard time getting the new notes amid scarcity and rising tension across the country, forcing the apex bank to extend the deadline by 10 days, which was due yesterday, February 10.

President Buhari had on February 3, 2023, implored Nigerians to give him seven days to resolve the cash crunch that has become a problem across the country from the policy of the CBN.

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The president made the call while speaking to the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) who paid him a visit to seek solutions to the cash crunch, which they said was threatening the good records of the administration in transforming the economy.

Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, noted that he had seen television reports on cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people and gave assurances that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension would be used to crack down on whatever stood in the way of its successful implementation.

There has been a flurry of suits at the Supreme Court by some state governors, challenging the apex bank’s policy over the hardship the policy has brought on the people.

The apex court had issued an order asking the CBN and the federal government not to go ahead with the implementation of the policy pending the determination of substantive suits before it.

No respite, 7 days after

But seven days after Buhari’s assurance, Nigerians have expressed disappointment over his inability to resolve the issue as long queues persist in banks across the country.

A meat seller at Agege, Lagos, Shakiru Alabi, said he knew President Buhari was not going to solve the problem within seven days.

He said, “From his body language, Emefiele is working for him. I was not expecting him to do anything. He should come to Lagos and see how people are suffering to get their money. People will leave their work to queue at banks from 5am to collect N2,000,” he lamented, saying the situation has drastically affected their business.

For Comrade Yusuf Ibrahim Yara, a resident of Kurna in the Dala Local Government Area of Kano State, the promise by the president failed due to improper coordination in his team.

Yara said he would not blame the president alone for the failure but his cabinet, who he said failed to understand and believe in the suffering Nigerians are facing as a result of the policy.

Another resident of Kano State, Abdullahi Usman, an engineer, said people had already given up and didn’t put much expectation on the promise by the president.

“I think the government lacks the sincerity of purpose. Instead of improving the economy, it has brought hardship,” he said.

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