Nigerians have criticized the central bank’s proposed “redesign” of the country’s local currency to curb counterfeiting and large-scale hoarding outside the country banking system.
President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled the redesigned 200-, 500- and 1,000-naira notes on Wednesday, saying, “The new naira notes have been reinforced with security features that make them difficult to counterfeit.”
The new banknotes look very similar to those currently in circulation. The design of the top denomination 1,000 naira note, which features the national coat of arms and the headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria, is largely unchanged. The only significant difference is the color – it has changed from a largely brown underprint to blue.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the redesigned banknotes will replace the banknotes currently in circulation by January 2023.
However, many locals are not impressed and describe the supposedly redesigned notes as a mere color makeover due to their resemblance to the old notes.
“Snapchat filters, waste of time and resources, so an entire CBN cannot employ experts to redesign the naira notes. This is an overhaul, not a redesign,” said one Nigerian tweeted.
“What a waste of time and resources… what’s the difference?” Another questioned.
CNN has reached out to CBN for comment.
Leading economist Bismarck Rewane told CNN that changing the appearance of the currency adds nothing to its value and is irrelevant to curbing counterfeiting.
The government says new security features have been added to the new banknotes, but Rewane says the changes to the currency are not significant enough to curb counterfeiting.
The value of the Nigerian naira has been declining in recent years, falling to a record low on the black market, where it traded at nearly 800 to the US dollar on Friday.
“It doesn’t change anything,” Rewane says of the Naira’s redesign. “It doesn’t add value,” he agrees, adding, “There was no redesign. The color of the currency has changed, that’s all. The change is not significant enough to stop counterfeiting.”
Nigeria’s 1000 and 500 naira denominations are the most counterfeited, according to last year’s CBN annual report.
News of the naira’s redesign – first announced last month – sparked mixed feelings among Nigerians, some of whom questioned the cost of printing new banknotes as the country grapples with dwindling oil revenues, its main source of income Has.
Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele expects the introduction of the new banknotes will help control inflation, which recently rose to a 17-year high, and also fight corruption.
According to Rewane, these goals may not be achieved.
“It’s just a color change. I don’t see the connection between the color of the currency and the goals being pursued. If the goal is to reduce inflation, this will not be achieved. [Changing the look of the currency] has no macroeconomic impact,” he tells CNN.
At the unveiling of the new banknotes on Wednesday, President Buhari said that was the case It has been almost 20 years since the country fundamentally redesigned its banknotes.
The Nigerian leader added that replacing the current currency with the redesigned banknotes will help combat fund hoarding outside the banking system.
“On that basis, I gave my consent to the redesign of the 200, 500 and 1,000 denominations,” he said.
Old naira notes will be phased out entirely by the end of January next year, according to CBN, as locals scramble to deposit their old notes with commercial banks.