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Shortage of banknotes in Nigeria: the Central Bank seeks to calm the anger before the presidential election


The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced on Thursday (February 2) the distribution of new banknotes at bank counters to reduce massive queues at ATMs, a decision aimed at allaying growing social unrest.

Three weeks before the presidential and legislative elections in Africa’s most populous country, frustration is high among Nigerians who are struggling to obtain cash after the introduction of new banknotes at the end of 2022. They are indeed already faced with fuel shortages and frequent load shedding.

Read also: Nigeria eases restrictions on cash withdrawals, under popular pressure

” The governor [de la Banque centrale]Mr. Godwin Emefiele, ordered depository banks to pay for the new Naira notes at the counters within the daily limit of 20,000 Naira [quelque 40 euros] »said spokesman Osita Nwanisobi.

Everywhere in Nigeria, especially in the megalopolis Lagos and in the capital Abuja, many people wait for hours in front of the very few distributors issuing the new tickets.

Riots in Kano

Enough to fuel the exasperation of Nigerians, the majority of whom live in poverty and depend on the informal economy, where cash remains essential. Riots notably broke out this week in Kano, the largest city in the north of the country.

In October 2022, the Central Bank announced, without warning, changing the banknotes (including their color) and decided that the old banknotes would no longer be valid on January 31, i.e. twenty-five days before the presidential election.

Read also: In northern Nigeria, the big city of Kano at the heart of electoral covetousness

This calendar is highly criticized in Nigeria, where pre-election periods are already synonymous with suffering for Nigerians. Economic activity there has slowed down, fuel shortages are greater than usual and insecurity is growing.

Faced with popular pressure, the authorities pushed back the date to February 10, specifying that there would be a grace period of seven days after the deadline for depositing the old notes at the central bank. The CBN blames the shortage in particular on a significant number of people “storing” And “accumulating” the new tickets they get by withdrawing ” serial “ in vending machines.

The new notes, according to the CBN, are aimed at reducing the volume of money outside the banking system to optimize monetary policies, combat counterfeit currency and complicate ransom payments to kidnappers in the kidnapping-ridden country.

The World with AFP