Naira scarcity: Hardship vital for economy, says finance minister

Oluwanifemi Ojo
Oluwanifemi Ojo

The Federal Government stated that the difficulties faced by Nigerian owing to the redesign of the naira are temporary and necessary for the long-term stability of the economy.

This was said by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed when responding to questions from journalists at the 65th edition of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised in Abuja by the Presidential Communication Team.

Following the redesign of the new note, there has been tension in every part of the country as Nigerians run helter-skelter to exchange their old note with the new one in order not to lose their hard-earned money before the initially set deadline of January 31. Now that the deadline has been extended to February 10, the tension still persists as Nigerians are going through tough times accessing their money from the bank.

Ahmed claims the current difficulties are temporary and necessary to combat corruption and progressively move toward a cashless economy.

In her words, “We are worried. We are not happy that citizens have to queue and struggle at ATMs to be able to get their cash. But this is a temporary situation.

“Let me just give you an analogy. If you have a wound, for you to be able to heal that wound, you need to be dressed.

“And sometimes, when you go to the hospital, they put iodine on the wound and it is very painful. It is necessary to do that to be able to get the wound to heal.

“So, it’s not easy. Mr President is not happy that citizens are suffering. But we are convinced that it is something that needs to be done at this time and also the Central Bank has been responsive in terms of providing some extension and also further explanation that comes to the closing date, it is not all over.”

She emphasised that the policy has been successful because more than 75% of the N2.7 trillion in circulation is now in banks.

According to Ahmed, “The positive side of it is that there is a lot of currency that has been mopped up by this operation. And it means it has achieved a good level of success.

“But the only sore point is the pain that it has caused to citizens which is regrettable, but which is also very transient and temporary.”

However, AMBusiness reported that the President, Speaking on Saturday, January 28, in Daura, claimed that the FG’s currency exchange is not intended to target innocent citizens, but rather corrupt individuals and terrorist financiers who are hoarding illegal funds.

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