Nigeria releases new banknotes into circulation

Nigeria will on Thursday introduce into circulation its new currency in the first such redesign in 20 years.

The authorities say the measure is meant to address insecurity, tackle counterfeiting and force excess cash back into the banking system.

Nigeria’s central bank had said more than 80% of the money in circulation was being hoarded by individuals.

It has urged people to take their old naira notes to commercial banks for replacement.

A 31 January deadline has been set by which Nigerians have to trade-in the old banknotes.

Many Nigerians say the government should have focused more on other measures to tackle soaring inflation in Africa’s largest economy instead of redesigning the banknotes.

The policy is likely to hit politicians who might be planning to use cash to bribe voters in Nigeria’s elections – a common campaign strategy in the country. The elections are due in February.

The release of the new notes comes barely three weeks before another change comes into effect – the limiting of cash withdrawals from banks to $225 a week for individuals and $1,200 for corporate bodies.

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