President Muhammadu Buhari encouraged residents on Friday to allow him seven days to ease the cash crisis caused by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s strategy of replacing high-value naira notes with new ones.
Buhari told the Progressive Governors’ Forum, who paid him a visit at the Presidential Villa to seek solutions to the cash crunch, which they said was jeopardizing the administration’s good records in transforming the economy, that the currency re-design would boost the economy and provide long-term benefits. He questioned the dedication of banks, in particular, to the policy’s success. “Some banks are inefficient and solely concerned about themselves,” the President stated, “even if a year passes is added, problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away.”
He said he had seen television reports about cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people and gave assurances that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension would be used to crack down on whatever stood in the way of successful implementation.
“I will revert to the CBN and the minting company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” the President was quoted to have said in a statement released by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.
The governors informed the President that, while they believed that his choice on the currency redesign was sound and that they supported it wholeheartedly, its implementation had been mishandled, and their constituents were growing more dissatisfied.
They told the President that, as governors and party leaders in their respective states, they were concerned about the economy’s downturn and the upcoming elections.
They asked the President to utilize his authority to direct the simultaneous issuance of new and old notes till the end of the year.
When considering whether to approve the program, the President stated that he wanted an assurance from the CBN that no additional notes would be manufactured in a foreign nation, and they, in turn, assured him that there was adequate capacity, staff, and equipment to print the currency for local requirements. He stated that he needed to return to check out what was going on.
Buhari reminded the governors that because he was closer to the people, he had heard their cries and would act in such a way that a solution would be found.