President Goodluck Jonathan
Muhammad Bello and Obinna Chima
Obviously bowing to pressure from the public and particularly the National Assembly, whose leadership met with him of Tuesday on the issue, President Goodluck Jonathan Thursday in Abuja directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop further action on the proposed currency restructuring exercise, including the introduction of the N5,000 banknote.
The president’s directive was in stark contrast to the position of the Federal Government two weeks ago when it gave its full backing to the CBN’s currency restructuring plan, termed Project Cure, and gave assurances that the planned introduction of the N5,000 banknote would not induce inflation.
In a statement issued by the CBN Director, Corporate Communications, Ugochukwu Okoroafor, last night, the banking system regulator said that in compliance with the CBN Act, 2007, it had proposed and obtained the approval of the president to embark on the currency restructuring exercise on December 19, 2011.
It added that in full compliance with the provisions of the law, further action on the said restructuring exercise has been stopped, until such a time that the president may direct otherwise.
The central bank stressed that till date, no contract has been awarded whatsoever by the CBN in connection with the minting and printing of the new coins and notes.
“Consequently, no currency note or coin has been printed or minted under the proposed exercise,” the CBN said.
In line with its mandate, the CBN said it remained committed to the pursuit of policies and programmes aimed at the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
Speaking on the president’s directive last night, his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said it was done in order to give the central bank time to sell the idea to the public.
Abati said: “The introduction is being suspended for now to enable the CBN to do more enlightenment on the issue.
“Yes, President Jonathan has directed that the implementation of the new N5,000 note be suspended for now. This is to enable the apex bank to do more in terms of enabling Nigerians to understand why it proposed it in the first place. So, for now, the full implementation is on hold.”
Under the exercise, the plan was that the existing denominations of N50, N100, N200, N500 and N1,000 were to be redesigned with added security features. Also, a 12-new currency structure which included: 50K, N1, N2, N5, N10 and N20 in the coin category, while N50, N100, N200, N500, N1,000 and N5,000 would have been printed as banknotes.
However, since the new currency structure was announced almost a month ago, it has been widely criticised and condemned by several sections of the public.