Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, on Wednesday, queried the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, over the scarcity of new naira notes, a few weeks to the deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement also urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to go after currency hawkers and Very Important Personalities who have mopped up the very few new naira notes recently released by the apex bank.
The group also accused the CBN and money deposit banks of collusion with currency hawkers selling the new notes at black markets to partygoers who buy for a fortune.
HURIWA backed the World Bank which stated in a report that the timing and short transition period of the Nigerian naira redesign may have “negative impacts on economic activity, in particular for the poorest households.”
The CBN announced on October 26, 2022, that it planned to redesign, produce, and circulate new series of N200, N500 and N1,000. The three notes are the highest denominations out of the eight legal tender notes in Nigeria.
Following the launch of the new designs on November 23, 2022, by President Muhammadu Buhari, the new currency notes were circulated from December 15, 2022, with both the new and existing notes considered legal tenders until January 31, 2023.
However, millions of Nigerians have expressed worry and disappointment over the scarcity of the new naira notes, saying the public ought to be familiar with the new currency to guide against fake notes as they enter into the New Year.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “About three weeks after the release of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes by the CBN, millions of Nigerians even those in cities like Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and other places are yet to see or touch the new naira notes. The situation is particularly worse in remote places and villages.
“Black marketers, politicians and expatriates continue to get access to crispy naira notes but deny millions of ordinary Nigerian bank depositors access to the new notes despite the approach of the deadline of January 31, 2023.
“It is unfortunate that despite the warning by the World Bank that the short timing for the currency change will cause economic pressure on Nigerians, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele ignored the advice of such global fiscal body and went ahead to implement the currency change.