Nigeria reissues old banknote as cash fiasco threatens to disrupt election


Abuja, Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday directed Nigeria’s central bank to reissue the old 200-naira ($0.43) banknotes withdrawn a few days ago as concerns grow that the new currency could be falsely introduced later this month. May disrupt general elections.

Violent protests have taken place in recent weeks, drawing in millions of people Struggled to get your hands on the new, redesigned one Versions of the 200-, 500- and 1,000-naira notes were scrapped on February 10, despite a Supreme Court ruling two days earlier that the planned currency swap should be suspended.

Now, the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC). Reportedly warned That could make it difficult for banks to disburse the new cash needed to staff the temporary staff and security guards needed to man thousands of polling stations for the February 25 presidential and parliamentary elections. CNN has contacted INEC for comment.

Buhari unveiled the redesigned currency in November last year aimed at curbing counterfeiting and hoarding of large sums outside the banking system.

But in scenes reminiscent of Anarchy spread in India When it tried to exchange its two largest banknotes in 2016, many Nigerians spent hours in long lines at cashpoints in a desperate bid to get enough cash to cover their daily expenses. .

The shortage has caused anger and hardship, especially for those working in the cash-based informal economy and 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 Nigerians facing hardship and announced that the old 200-naira note would return to circulation for 60 days. He said high denomination notes remain void but can be exchanged at the central bank and other designated points.

He also assured Nigerians that the cash supply would improve in the coming days. Buhari said he directed the central bank to “ensure that the new notes are more available and accessible to our citizens 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 was in the banking industry” while 2.7 trillion naira ($5.8 billion) was “are permanently placed in people’s homes.

In his address on Thursday, Buhari disclosed that about 80% of those funds have been returned to the banks. opening of new banknotes in November.

“I have been reliably informed that since the commencement of this programme, about 2.1 trillion naira ($4.5 billion) of banknotes that were kept out of the banking system, have been successfully recovered,” he said.

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