The complete text of Buhari’s national broadcast on the Naira

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A NATIONAL BROADCAST BY HIS EXCELLENCY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ON THE DIFFICULTIES OF THE CURRENCY SWAP AND THE STATE OF THE NATION, ON FEBRUARY 16, 2023

My dear fellow citizens,

1. Given the current state of the country and the administration’s efforts to support and strengthen our economy, intensify the fight against corruption, and maintain our gains in the war on terrorism and insecurity, which has undoubtedly been impacted by a number of internal and external factors, I feel it is necessary to address you today.

2. In particular, I’m writing to you as your democratically elected President to sympathize with you and express my understanding of the challenges you’re facing as we continue to implement new monetary policies designed to strengthen our economy and close money laundering loopholes.

3. Let me reassure Nigerians that our administration’s top priorities continue to be boosting our economy, enhancing security, and stopping leaks connected to illicit financial flows. And I will always uphold my promise to safeguard and advance Nigerians’ interests and those of the country.

4. I gave the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) permission to redesign the N200, N500, and N1000 Nigerian banknotes in the final quarter of 2022.

5. I also gave my approval for the redesigned banknotes to circulate side by side with the existing banknotes until January 31, 2023, when the old notes would no longer be accepted as legal money.

6. A ten-day extension was permitted for the process’ completion until February 10, 2023 in recognition of the systemic and human challenges experienced during implementation and in response to the plea of all citizens. All of these efforts are being conducted in accordance with international best practices, the CBN Act of 2007, the applicable law, and the scope of the Constitution.

7. Dear citizens, while I ask for your patience and understanding during this brief phase of implementation, I feel compelled to share with you a few important details relating to the policy choice. They consist of:

a. The requirement to reinstate the CBN’s legal authority to maintain strict control over money in circulation As this administration’s first term began in 2015, the amount of currency in circulation was only N1.4 trillion.

b. By 2022, 85% of all currency will be held outside of banks, up from 78% in 2015. The amount of money in circulation reached N3.23 trillion as of October 2022; however, only N500 billion of that amount was contained within the banking system, while N2.7 trillion stayed outside of it permanently, distorting financial policy and impeding the effective control of inflation;

c. The enormous amount of bank notes that are not part of the banking system have shown to be virtually useless for economic activity, which consequently prevents the potential for economic growth from being realized;

d. Economic growth forecasts force the government to prioritize increasing financial inclusion in the nation by lowering the proportion of the unbanked population; and

a. The government should intensify its ongoing support for security agencies to effectively combat banditry and ransom-taking in Nigeria given the current security situation, which is constantly improving.

8. Notwithstanding the initial disappointments, the evaluation and feedback process established has shown that the policy endeavor has yielded benefits.

9. According to reliable sources, approximately N2.1 trillion of the banknotes previously stored outside the banking system have been successfully collected since the program’s inception.

10. This accounts for 80% of these money. Hence, it is anticipated that over the short, medium, and long terms:

a. a tightening of our macroeconomic constraints;

b. A decrease in the broad money supply that causes the velocity of money in the economy to slow down, which should relieve pressure on domestic prices;

c. A decrease in inflation brought on by the concurrent contraction of the money supply, which will moderate the rate of inflation;

d. The cessation of illicit economic activity, which would aid in reducing corruption and the illegal accumulation of wealth;

e) Stability of exchange rates;

f. The accessibility of simple loans and a reduction in interest rates; and

g. Increased transparency and visibility of our financial activity will result in effective enforcement of our anti-money laundering laws.

11. I am aware of the barriers that dishonest financial employees, who were tasked with carrying out the new monetary policy, have put in the way of innocent Nigerians. I am really sorry for these unexpected results and truly feel your grief.

12. In order to stop this trend, I’ve instructed the CBN to use all available legal tools and resources to make sure that our citizens are properly informed about the policy, have simple access to cash withdrawals thanks to the availability of an acceptable amount of currency, and may make deposits.

13. I have also instructed the CBN to work more closely with anti-corruption organizations in order to ensure that any institution or individual discovered to have obstructed or undermined the implementation bears the full brunt of the law.

14. During the extended period of the currency swap deadline, I listened to wise words of counsel from institutions and well-meaning citizens around the country.

15. I similarly conducted extensive consultations with members of the Council of State and the State Governors. Above all, I have underlined that the case is before the courts of our nation, and some pronouncements have been made, as a government that respects the rule of law.

16. I have given the CBN my approval to release the old N200 bank notes back into circulation and to allow them to circulate as legal tender alongside the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023, to April 10, 2023, when the old N200 notes cease to be legal tender. This will help to ease supply pressures, especially for our citizens.

17. All current old N1000 and N500 notes are still redeemable at the CBN and other specified locations in accordance with Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007.

18. I urge every citizen to work harder to make their deposits by utilizing the platforms and opportunities being given by the CBN in light of the state of our economy and the legacy we must leave for the upcoming administration and future generations of Nigerians.

19. Allow me to reassure Nigerians that our administration will keep an eye on the implementation to make sure they aren’t overburdened. In this regard, the CBN would see to it that new notes are made more widely available and reachable to our people via the banks.

20. I want to ask for your patience once more as we work to get over this challenging temporary phase as quickly as possible.

21. Respected folks, on February 25, 2023, the country would elect a new president and members of the National Assembly. I am aware that this new monetary strategy has also made a significant contribution to reducing the power of money in politics.

22. This is a step in the right direction away from the past and is a brave legacy move by this administration toward building a solid base for free and fair elections.

23. As a result, I implore every person to cast a ballot for the candidates of their choice without hesitation because security will be in place and your vote will be counted.

24. I caution you to abstain from violence and refrain from taking any acts that could scuttle the voting process. I hope the general elections go well for everyone.

I appreciate your attention. The Federal Republic of Nigeria is blessed by God.