President Muhammadu Buhari, on Saturday, said the government’s currency swap is not meant to target innocent citizens but corrupt persons and terror financiers hoarding illicit monies.
He also assured Nigerians that the government will ensure that they and their businesses will face no harm from disruptions caused to the entire supply chain arising from the currency swap.
According to a statement signed on Saturday by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari was reacting to reports of long queues of people waiting for hours for their turn to deposit old notes and get new ones.
The statement is titled ‘Government will eliminate squeeze, chaos in currency swap, President Buhari assures.’
Last November, the Central Bank announced that it will redesign the N200, N500 and N1000 notes of the Naira.
It said the populace has until January 31, 2023, to return all old notes to commercial banks.
At the unveiling of the new Naira notes at the State House on November 23 2022, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, told journalists that the January deadline remains sacrosanct and will it be shifted for any reason.
Meanwhile most commercial banks and their automated teller machines (ATMs) still dispense the old notes to customers.
Reacting to reports of long queues of people waiting for hours for their turn to deposit old notes and get new ones, triggering public anger and opposition’s criticism, Buhari reiterated that the currency changes were aimed at people hoarding illicit funds and not the common man.
He said the changes had become necessary to prevent counterfeits, corruption, and terrorist funding and also to stabilize and strengthen the economy.
“While taking note that the poorest section of society is facing hardship as they often keep hard cash at home for various expenses, President Buhari gave strong assurances that the government will not leave them to their own fate.
“He reiterated that a number of initiatives by the Central Bank and all commercial banks are underway to speed up distribution of the new notes and do all that is necessary to forestall cash squeeze and chaos,” the statement read in part.
Recall that the All Progressives Congress Presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, last Wednesday alleged that the currency change was among plans to sabotage the February election.
Tinubu cited the lingering fuel crisis and naira redesign by the Central Bank of Nigeria as part of the plot to scuttle the poll and his expected victory.
During the APC presidential campaign rally held at the MKO Abiola stadium, Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State, the former Lagos governor said in Yoruba “They don’t want this election to hold. They want to scuttle it.
“They have started coming up with the issue of ‘no fuel’. Don’t worry, if there is no fuel, we will trek to cast the vote.
“If you like, increase the price of fuel, hide the fuel or change the ink on the naira notes, we will win the election. We will use our PVCs (permanent voter cards) to take over the government from them; if they like, let them say there is no fuel, and we will trek there (polling booths).”