CBN, Currency Redesign and the Need for Public Awareness


By Edwin Uhara

Since the announcement on the redesigning of N200, N500, and N1,000 notes was made public by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) late last month, I have seen different people express divergent opinions as well as read several commentaries in the print media.

In my view, the understanding of the plan is very poor outside the fact that the apex bank failed to carry critical stakeholders along before unveiling it to the public.

Their reactions have undoubtedly shown that the new plan took most of them by surprise without room for further negotiations.

Credence was, however, given to this notion by the type of reactions that trailed the announcement, especially from major stakeholders like the Minister of Finance, the National Assembly, the faith-based community and other interest groups in the nation’s economic sector.

I have also observed that there is a wide gap between the stated objectives and what the Nigerian people, especially those in the lower class, are taking home to be the new CBN plan.

No thanks to the fake news, which has become an industry of its own; which capitalised on the inability of the apex bank to consult widely as well as step-up sensitisation mechanisms as a follow-up strategy to the announcement in order to drive home their points; so that Nigerians would fully embrace it. But nothing of such ever came from the bank outside the clarification it made about the approval given to the plan by Mr President.

Accordingly, because nature abhors a vacuum, spin doctors went to work by distorting the original intention expressed by the bank and started pushing their own narratives about the plan down the throat of the people.

Some even went as far as doing a video which is currently circulating on different WhatsApp groups, saying that government wants to print N5,000 and N10,000 notes in order to loot them and then use some for next year’s general elections.

There are many interpretations coming from different opinion leaders about the plan, but the most dangerous one, which should force the CBN to go beyond average in their sensitisation plan, is the religious dimension some clerics and analysts are trying to associate the plan with.

However, in all these, I see a battle between the opposing side and the promoting side for the attention of the Nigerian people.

The nation has interestingly become a free marketplace of ideas where everyone is a buyer and a seller at the same time.

On the other side, the apex bank has filled up the vacuum created by the various political parties in this electioneering season.

For the fact that the Nigerian people are more interested in the programmes of the Buhari administration, which has about six months to officially wind down, instead of focusing attention on what would likely be the policies and programmes of the next government and how it would affect them; shows that the people have lost interest in the various campaign strategies so far adopted by the various political parties.

If I’m not mistaken, the only thing I can understand as their campaign is accusations, counter-accusations, and promotion of trivialities, mockeries and insults without really telling Nigerians what to expect and how they plan to deliver them to the people.

The various campaign spokespersons have moved away from being the image makers for their candidates to becoming dramatis personae, diverting attention to themselves instead of adding colours and believability to the cause they were employed to promote and defend.

Even among those who have unveiled their manifestoes, there are no detailed and sector-specific strategies on how to get stuff done, but they are filled with general assertions and untested hypotheses.

So, we can’t really blame the people for paying much attention to the policies and programmes of the Buhari administration, especially the currency redesigning plan of the CBN, because they know that this is the administration that truly means well for them but has, unfortunately, become the victim of clandestine and multi-sectoral conspiracies.

Nonetheless, the aspect I would have loved the debate on the new CBN plan to focus on would have been the area of microeconomics, which is the study of how the plan would affect individuals, households and firms.

According to the apex bank, “as of the end of September 2022, available data at the CBN indicates that N2.73 trillion out of the N3.23 trillion currency in circulation was outside the vault of commercial banks across the country and supposedly held by members of the public.

“Evidently, currency in circulation has more than doubled since 2015, rising from N1.46 trillion in December 2015 to N3.23 trillion as of September 2022. I must say that this is a worrisome trend that must not be continued.”

This is caused by “significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public, with statistics showing that over 80 per cent of the currency in circulation are outside the vaults of commercial banks.

“Worsening shortage of clean and fit banknotes with an attendant negative perception of the CBN and increased risk to financial stability and increasing ease and risk of counterfeiting evidenced by several security reports” are some of the reasons that have necessitated the plan.

However, in a nation of over 200 million people, where about N2.7 trillion is pulled out of circulation, what do you think would be the general economic outlook across the country? Your guess is as good as mine!

The questions are; who pulled these monies out of circulation? Why and for what purposes?

Just imagine the impact N2.7 trillion would have made in the nation’s economic sector if there were in circulation and were within reach of the commercial banks to be made available as loans to investors, manufacturers, businesses and small and medium-scale entrepreneurs.

But because 80 per cent of the currency in circulation is outside the vaults of commercial banks, the government became the main driver and sustainer of the economy through many programmes like ‘Business Grant,’ ‘Subsidized Loans,’ ‘Market Money,’ ‘Trader Money,’ ‘Conditional Cash Transfers,’ ‘N-Power,’ ‘Anchor Borrowers Programme,’ and several other direct supports to victims of natural disasters among others.

With N2.7 trillion in circulation, we could fight insecurity with jobs. We could boost the Internally Generated Revenues of many states. We could boost the domestic production capacity of the nation, thereby exporting some of our products to the international market, where access to foreign currencies would have increased.

Even when the announcement for currency redesigning was made by the CBN, instead of hoarders of these monies to push them back into the economy through investments and other economic boosting avenues, they chose to be converting them to foreign currencies, thereby pushing the demand for these currencies over the roof.

What this means is that the cost of importation or even production of goods and services would be too high, and as a result of such, the new market price for essential commodities in our various local markets would increase astronomically in the coming festive seasons.

In conclusion, the CBN should not only intensify its awareness campaigns for the plan to enjoy popular support among the people, but it should also collaborate with genuine Bureau De Change operators as well as commercial banks to make special arrangements for genuine importers and manufacturers to have easy access to foreign currencies in order not to make the prices of essential commodities to be out of the reach of the common man.

Comrade Edwin Uhara is a Public Affairs Commentator and UN-trained Negotiator. He can be reached via [email protected]

Related Stories

Okirigbolubou! The Forest of Power, Where no Man Goes for Hunting

By Asiayei Enaibo The leaves open and close without breeze, startling sounds of the foot without humans, Okirigbolobou, those who miss their way to this forest see light from above to get directions to their homes, those who plan evil to the forest got lost without trace, when the gods open your eyes and mouth, then you are an Apostle decreed before the coming of man and time has brought you to function, those who installed themselves to test the potency of Egbesu lost and imprisoned until a circle of purgatory. A sacred forest of old, those who seek blessings


The Intersection of Religion and Human Rights: Balancing Freedom of Religion and Societal Interest in Nigeria

By Prince Charles Dickson PhD Last week, I had the honor of a deep dive conversation with very respected men and women of the press, from the traditional to the digital space, citizen journalists, bloggers and more. It is an interesting cohort, and I am sure that at the end of this initiative, the impacts would be felt. Let me quickly appreciate the Search For Common Ground’s Katlong, Daniel, Temisan, Emmanuela, Fatima Madaki, the Country Director, and all the wonderful souls and the work we all do in this space. My presentation was about the complex dynamics at the intersection


A Cultural Journalist’s 15 years of Research on Ijaw Culture and Worship

By Jerome-Mario Utomi No man, according to Aristotle, chooses anything but what he can do himself. And thus, choice is limited to the realm of things humanly possible. Aristotle further stated that there is no choice among impossibilities. Choice, by its very nature, is free. A necessitated choice is not a choice at all but a great sacrifice, he concluded. The above lines from great Aristotle amply capture the ‘fate’ or better still the position of Asiayei Enaibo, Bobogbene community, a Warri, Delta state-based journalist who made a necessitated choice/sacrifice by opting out of conventional journalism to explore formation that

More Stories

Wall Street Opens Mixed on Looming Fed Meeting

By Investors Hub The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a mixed opening on Monday, with stocks likely to show a lack of direction following the strong upward move seen last week. Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the Federal Reserve?s monetary policy announcement later this week. The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, although traders are likely to keep a close eye on the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for rates. The central bank?s economic projections and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell?s subsequent press conference are also likely to be


Keystone Bank Staff Tampers With ATM, Steals N3m

By Modupe Gbadeyanka An employee of Keystone Bank named Mrs Chinonye Okafoagu has been arraigned by the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) in Panti-Yaba, Lagos. The suspect was charged on Monday on a four-count charge of conspiracy, stealing, forgery and false modification of ATM data. Mrs Okafoagu, 33, was brought before Chief Magistrate A. O. Salawu of an Ebute-Meta Chief Magistrates’ Court. The accused was alleged to have stolen N3 million from an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) after tampering with it. It was said that the bank employee allegedly, without lawful authority, modified the ATM’s data and stopped


Zoho Launches Canvas to Re-envision Customer Relationship Management

By Sodeinde Temidayo David Zoho Corporation, an Indian multinational technology company that makes web-based business tools, has launched a new program called Canvas to bring to consumers, a level of simplicity to the customer relationship management (CRM) user experience. Canvas is a one of a kind no-code design studio that empowers users to redesign the user interface of the CRM and create a personalized instance that meets their specific requirements and preferences. This will increase the adoption rate of CRM by various users having hard times on the CRM operations. Canvas enables businesses to create their own CRM interfaces that


Sokoto Recalls 39 Students Studying Abroad

By Dipo Olowookere About 39 students of Sokoto origin studying abroad on the bill of the state government have been asked to return home. Their recall was approved on Friday by the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, when he received the report of the committee instituted to advise government on the issue. The affected students are currently studying in various schools in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Mr Tambuwal explained that the move is expected to save the state government over N500 million. He said that government’s action signalled a change of priorities in the payment of scholarships to indigent


Uduk Urges Gambling Youths to Invest in Capital Market

By Dipo Olowookere Acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Mary Uduk, has urged youths in the habit of gambling to consider taking advantage of the several investment opportunities in the Nigerian capital market. In a recent interview, the SEC chief said investment in the capital market was safer than gambling. According to her, rather than put money in a bet, youths can put their funds in mutual funds and yield good returns after a time. Ms Uduk said youths can invest in the money market, insurance, capital market, real estate, infrastructure among others. “We have


When Powerful Nigerians Stormed Oyo for Tomori Williams

By Aduragbemi Omiyale Sunday, February 28, will be etched in the history of Oyo Town for a very long time and this was because that day, the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, conferred the title of Aare Onikoyi of Yorubaland on Otunba Tomori Williams. Indeed, on that day, endless blessings flowed, as the town was agog with activities. The three days event was incomparable to anything that had been seen in the state, as mouths were left agape by the display of wealth, opulence and taste. Kicking off with a DJ night on Friday, February 26, guests were


Ikeja Electric Revamps Electrical Workshop at GTC Ikorodu

By Modupe Gbadeyanka The electrical workshop at the Government Technical College (GTC) in Ikorodu, Lagos State, has been revamped by Ikeja Electric Plc, a leading electricity distribution firm in Nigeria. This is one of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of the energy company aimed to boost technical education in the country. According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ikeja Electric, Mrs Folake Soetan, the organisation remains passionate about giving back to the communities where it operates. “We care about our customers and we look for every opportunity to support them, through our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platform, which


Dangote Endorses Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for WTO DG Job

By Adedapo Adesanya Nigerian billionaire and business mogul, Mr Aliko Dangote, has backed former Finance Minister, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to become the next Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Mr Dangote in a series of tweet showed his support for Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, 66, who is one of the eight candidates vying for the position which has just been vacated by Mr Roberto Azevedo of Brazil. He wrote, “In these challenging times, the World Trade Organisation needs the renowned skills and tested experience of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to lead the organisation through identified obstacles and strengthen its position as the

Recent Stories

Global Finance Names Ecobank Best FX Bank in Nigeria

By Dipo Olowookere Ecobank Nigeria Limited has been named as the Best FX Bank under the Country & Territory Awards category for Nigeria in the 2024 Global Finance’s annual SME Bank Awards. The parent company of the lender, Ecobank Group, on its part, clinched the Best Bank for SMEs in Africa 2024 award, reflecting its unwavering commitment to meeting the specialised needs of SMEs across its diverse markets. At the award ceremony held on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at the Glaziers Hall in London, the United Kingdom, Global Finance explained that the Nigerian subsidiary of the leading pan-African Banking Group


GTCO, FBN Holdings, Transcorp Close as Busiest Stocks on NGX

By Dipo Olowookere The trio of Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO) Plc, FBN Holdings Plc, and Transcorp Plc ended as the busiest stocks on the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited last week. They accounted for 343.584 million shares worth N9.431 billion in 5,659 deals, contributing 24.96 per cent and 29.86 per cent to the total trading volume and value, respectively Data obtained by Business Post showed that the market recorded a turnover of 1.377 billion shares worth N31.584 billion in 42,040 deals versus the 1.559 billion shares valued at N36.497 billion traded in 42,546 deals in the preceding week. Financial equities


Excitement as Tinubu Commissions Geometric Power Plant

By Aduragbemi Omiyale The city of Aba in Abia State is beaming with excitement as President Bola Tinubu is expected to commission the Geometric power plant today, Monday, February 26, 2024. The facility is the first integrated power plant in Nigeria. It is situated in the Osisioma Industrial area of Aba. It is expected to provide 24-hour electricity to the city and about nine of the 17 local government areas of the state. The 181-megawatt Geometric power plant cost about $800 million and was done by a former Minister of Power, Mr Barth Nnaji. Electricity from the plant will be


Customs to Adopt Stable FX Rate for Cargo Clearance

By Adedapo Adesanya The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reviewed the formula for fixing foreign exchange (FX) rates for customs duties for cargo clearance after uproar over the constant changes in the rate. The apex bank asked the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other related parties to adopt the closing FX rate on the date of opening Form M for the importation of goods, as the forex rate to be used for Import Duty Assessment,. This was disclosed by Mr Hassan Mahmud, the Director, Trade and Exchange Department of the CBN in a memo on Friday in Abuja. According


Climate Change: Agric Experts Advocate Smart Farming Practices

By Bon Peters Agriculture experts have advocated “smart farming practices” to combat climate change, improve productivity and enhance food security in the country. They noted that if climate change challenges were not nipped in the bud, more than 52 per cent of the country’s agricultural production would be threatened by 2050. The experts under the aegis of the Society of Action in Nigeria (SCAN), in collaboration with the University of Port Harcourt, disclosed this during a workshop organized for women and youth leaders on Thursday in Port Harcourt the Rivers state capital. A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Agricultural


VFD Group’s Adeniyi Adenubi Mentors Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

An executive director of VFD Group, Mr Adeniyi Adenubi, has mentored some students of the the Nigerian University of Technology and Management Scholars Programme (NSP). The mentoring session was to enlighten the next generation of entrepreneurs about the complexities of building a business, highlighting the impact of partnerships, entrepreneurial spirit, and service in the world of business, with the core message being Dream and believe in your dream. The Nigerian financial and investment expert spoke about his personal journey, which is intertwined with the dynamic principles of VFD Group, which include Entrepreneurial Ethos, Ambition, Agility, Partnerships, Innovation, Courage, and Commitment.


Why Trade Between India and Russia is Experiencing Upward Trend—Kotwani

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh As President of the Indian Business Alliance (IBA) and the founder of the Imperial Tailoring Co., Sammy Kotwani, offers comprehensive insights on the evolving dynamics of Indian investment prospects in the Russian Federation. He also discusses, in this interview, aspects of business challenges and roadblocks in the context of geopolitical changes and competition as well as the current economic cooperation between India and Russia. Here are the interview excerpts: How would you characterize the geopolitical changes on investment prospects for Indians in Russian Federation? Geopolitical changes have significantly influenced investment prospects for Indians in the Russian


ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions on Niger, Mali, Guinea

By Adedapo Adesanya The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has resolved to lift some sanctions on Niger Republic, Mali, and Guinea. The resolution was taken at the extraordinary summit on the peace, political, and security situation in the ECOWAS sub-region in Abuja on Saturday. While the regional bloc said the political and a few targeted sanctions on the Niger Republic remain, it lifted some financial and economic sanctions on Guinea and others on Mali. Following the military coup in Niger Republic on July 26, 2023, which toppled President Mohamed Bazoum, ECOWAS imposed several sanctions on the country. Now,


SERAP Sues Wike, Governors Over Missing N40trn Allocations

By Adedapo Adesanya The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against Nigeria’s governors and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Mr Nyesom Wike, over their failure to account for the alleged missing N40 trillion federal allocations meant for local governments in the states and the FCT. The suit followed the damning revelations by former President Muhammadu Buhari who in December 2022 stated that “if the money from the federation account to the states is about N100 million, N50 million will be sent to the chairman but he will sign that he received N100 million.


Consumer Goods, Banking Stocks Lift Equity Market by 0.84%

By Dipo Olowookere The Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited rebounded by 0.84 per cent on Friday, lifted by bargain-hunting in the consumer goods and banking sectors. The consumer goods index went up by 4.05 per cent during the session, as the banking space increased by 0.67 per cent, while the insurance counter depreciated by 0.09 per cent, as the energy and industrial goods sectors closed flat. At the close of transactions, the All-Share Index (ASI) grew by 849.20 points to 102,088.30 points from 101,239.10 points, and the market capitalisation expanded by N464 billion to N55.861 trillion from N55.397 trillion. Business Post