Naira redesign: Gumi says kidnappers will demand ransom in dollars

CONTROVERSIAL Islamic cleric Ahmad Gumi has expressed concerns over the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) plan to redesign the naira, saying the policy would force kidnappers to start collecting ransom in United States dollars.

The ICIR had reported that the CBN announced on Wednesday that it plans to redesign naira notes.

According to CBN governor Godwin Emefiele, the new notes include N200, N500 and N1000. The redesigned notes will be effective from mid-December 2022.

Reacting to the development, Gumi said the policy was coming at the wrong time and would impose economic difficulties on the citizens.

“As for the question of starving kidnappers of the naira, it goes without saying that they will resort to dollars and other hard currencies, which will further put more pressure on it, making the rotten situation worse,” Gumi said.

“This is no time for economic kamikaze! People that sell goods will tell you that most Nigerians don’t have the money to buy things. Therefore, most traders are running at a loss and are already folding up. At this juncture anything that can cause a cash crunch will be a disaster for the nation.

“Many good ideas are marred by wrong timing. This is likely to be another one. No matter how ingenious the hatchers may romanticize, the benefit will remain phantom since the reality on the ground is incongruous, and it spells doom for the escapade.”

He stressed that the plan should not be implemented by a government that was about to leave office, adding that if there was any advantage of such measures, “it usually came after many years of excruciating poverty and hardship, which no well-meaning government should hand over such cruelty to any incoming government to manage”.

Like Gumi, many Nigerians have expressed mixed reactions to the apex bank’s proposal. While a section of Nigerians believe that the policy would further depreciate the naira in the exchange market, others think it would mop the excess cash in the hands of politicians who hope to buy votes in the 2023 general elections.

Former CBN deputy governor Kingsley Moghalu in a series of tweets on Saturday lauded the bank for the move, noting that it might address the country’s high inflation rate, currently at 20.77 per cent.



    He noted that it was also a means to withdraw currency from circulation and an unorthodox method of tightening money supply since the country was battling high inflation.

    “I fully support the Central Bank of Nigeria in redesigning the Naira. If 80 per cent of banknotes in circulation are outside the banks, that is troubling,” he said.

    “The flip side is that people who are holding huge amounts of cash outside the banking system for nefarious reasons will go to the parallel forex market to buy hard currency, putting further downward pressure on the value of the naira as too much naira will be chasing too few dollars.”

    Moghalu said the step has become necessary for national security, but noted that the window for implementation was too short.

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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