Nigeria’s federal government has described pains being experienced by the people in their bid to swap the old naira for the re-designed ones as regrettable and should be seen as a temporary sacrifice for te nation to achieve long-term economic sanity.
Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who stated this on Thursday at a news briefing at the State House in Abuja, also said President Muhammadu Buhari is not happy about the situation.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had in November last year, announced government’s plan to replace the N1000, N500 and N200 notes with newly redesigned versions, fixing the validity of the old versions to January31, 2023.
Circulation of the new notes became scarce and Nigerians have been subjected to some of the most difficult situations, including strains of commercial activities and procurement of everyday household needs.
The federal government had extended the deadline date last week with ten more days, to allow Nigerians more time to change their old notes for new ones. The situation has yet to ease off.
Ahmed, who was responding to a question, likened the current situation being experienced by Nigerians to a patient having a wound or deep sore, but must submit to an excruciating pain while undergoing treatments.
She, however, said government is pleased that a huge amount of the funds outside the banking sector have been mopped back into the banking system, which will in turn give the regulatory agencies control over the nation’s currencies.
According to Ahmed, the current hardships, though temporal, are required to stifle corruption and gradually transition into a cashless economy.
Responding to the question on the harsh situation trailing the currency swap, Ahmed said “of course we’re not happy that citizens have to queue and struggle at banks ATMs to be able to get their cash, but this is a temporary solution. Let me just give you an analogy.
“If you will have a wound, for you to be able to heal that wound, it needs to be addressed and sometimes when you go to the hospital, they’ll put iodine on the wound and it is very painful, but it’s necessary to do that to be able to get the wound to heal. So it’s not easy and Mr. President is not happy that citizens are suffering.
“But we are convinced that it is something that needs to be done at this time and also the Central Bank has been responsive in terms of providing some extension and also further explanation that come the closing date that is not all over, that there’s still opportunity for citizens, as provided for in the CBN Act, Section 20, subsection 3, to actually take their old currency to the Central Bank for redemption. So it’s not all over.
“But the positive side of it is that there is a lot of currency that has been mopped up by this operation and it means it has achieved a good level of success, the only sore point is the pain it has caused to citizens, which is regrettable, but which is also very transient and temporary and the bank is continuing to address”, she said.
Commenting on the performance of government in commercial enterprises, the Minister said given the dismal performance, the federal government is set to step back and take a policy and supervisory role in terms of raising the investments to accelerate economic and national development.