New Naira notes difficult to counterfeit — Buhari

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…Says it would help CBN implement better monetary policy objectives

…Currency redesign targets no one  — Emefiele

…Will control inflation, ensure financial inclusion, fight corruption — Emefiele insists

…As Nigerians criticise note quality, experts commend security features

By Seun Ibiyemi, Ogaga Ariemu, and Matthew Denis

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that the new Naira notes would be difficult to counterfeit. The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele said the apex bank will intensify the monitoring process and interrogate the process of withdrawals.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday unveiled the redesigned Naira notes of N200, N500 and N1,000 at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa Abuja.

The unveiling of the Naira notes preceded the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) with a number of cabinet members in attendance.

The unveiling of the new redesigned notes hitherto slated for Dec.15 was brought forward to Wednesday by the CBN.

Why I approved redesign of Naira notes locally — Buhari

Speaking at the inauguration of the new banknotes Buhari explained in detail the basis for his approval to the CBN to redesign the ¦  200, ¦  500 and ¦  1000 banknotes.

He added that the new banknotes would help CBN to design and implement better monetary policy objectives, as well as enrich the collective memory of Nigeria’s heritage.

Buhari commended the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele and his Deputies for the initiative.

He equally thanked the Managing Director, Executive Directors and staffers of NSPM PLC “for working tirelessly with the apex bank to make the currency redesign a reality, and for printing the new Naira notes within a comparatively short time.”

According to him, international best practice requires central banks and national authorities to issue new or redesigned currency notes every five to eight years.

Buhari said that it was now almost 20 years since the last major redesign of the Country’s local currency was done.

The president said that this implied that the Naira was long overdue to wear a new look.

Buhari said, “A cycle of banknote redesign is generally aimed at achieving specific objectives, including but not limited to: improving security of banknotes.

“It is also aimed at mitigating counterfeiting, preserving the collective national heritage, controlling currency in circulation, and reducing the overall cost of currency management.

‘‘As is known, our local laws, specifically the Central Bank of Nigeria Act of 2007, grants the CBN the power to issue and redesign the Naira.

‘‘In line with this power, the bank’s Governor approached me earlier in this year to seek my permission to embark on a currency redesign project.

“I considered all the facts and reasons presented before me by the Central Bank.”

Buhari, therefore, expressed the hope that the new notes would address the urgent need to take control of currency in circulation.

He said that it would also address the menace of hoarding Naira banknotes outside the banking system and curb the shortage of clean and fit banknotes in circulation.

Buhari added that the redesigned notes would also address the increase in counterfeiting of high-denomination Naira banknotes.

“It is on this basis that I gave my approval for the redesign of the ¦  200, ¦  500 and ¦  1000 banknotes.

‘‘While this may not be apparent to many Nigerians, only four out of the 54 African countries print their currencies in their countries, and Nigeria is one.

“Hence, a majority of African countries print their currencies abroad and import them the way we import other goods.

‘‘That is why it is with immense pride that I announce to you that these redesigned currencies are locally produced right here in Nigeria by NSPM Plc,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Emefiele thanked the president for his unwavering support for the redesign and distribution of the new notes, stating that the new move is not targeted at anyone.

According to him, the new notes will control inflation, make policies more effective, ensure financial inclusion and fight corruption.

The CBN Governor also said that by international best practice, the redesign of notes should be every five to eight years.

He said, “And the currency in circulation had been in use for 19 years, with spiraling challenges on the economy, especially on security and counterfeiting.”

Emefiele also appreciated the president for his insistence that the initial notes must be designed and produced within the country, further placing confidence in NSPM Plc.

“Mr President, only a President of your esteemed and incorruptible stature could have done what we are witnessing today,’’ he added.

Emefiele listed more benefits of the redesigned naira notes to include enhanced security, greater durability, attractiveness and promotion of rich cultural heritage.

Reactions

In a swift response, the Chief Executive Officer, Economic Associates, Ayo Teriba said the Naira redesigned is a mockery of the old glory of Nigeria’s currency.

“Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was then the Honourable Minister of Finance, on behalf of whose ministry the Central Bank of Nigeria issues currency notes and coins introduced Naira notes on 1st January 1973. The CBN being one of the subsidiaries owned 100 percent by the Federal Ministry of Finance.

“N1 note was equivalent to US$1.50 at the point of introduction in 1973, and N10 Naira, the highest denomination note at the time, was equivalent to US$15. N1000 note, the highest denomination President Muhammadu Buhari is launching today is equivalent to US$1.50.

“On 1st January 2023, about five weeks from now, we should ideally be commemorating the Golden Jubilee of the introduction of the Naira. But what is happening today to the Naira is a mockery of the Naira notes inaugurated 50 years ago. All compatriots must work to restore the old glory of the Naira,” he said.

Security features have been enhanced

Economic experts, Mr Idakolo Gbolade has said that apart from the change in colour of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 Naira notes, its security features have been enhanced.

Gbolade stated that the CBN must have examined the shortcomings of the old denominations and has improved the new notes.

He added that the apex bank should upscale its policy aimed at encouraging commercial banks’ collection of mutilated old Naira notes.

“Apart from the change in colour, the security features are also enhanced.

“I believe the CBN must have critically examined the shortcomings in the old denominations and has improved on the new notes.

“The CBN has to improve on its policy on mutilated notes to encourage banks in returning them to the CBN with minimal charges. This will be a major departure from the old system where banks are charged for returning the notes,” he stated.

In his view, a businessman, Mr. Kelechi Henry said the Apex bank succeeded in changing the colour of the old currency not redesign as stipulated.