Paper Money

Nigeria unveils trio of new bank notes in different colors

Nigeria unveiled three new Nigerian bank notes Nov. 23 that will start circulating Dec. 15 including a 200-naira note. Though little about the new series is new except the colors, the current series loses its legal tender status Jan. 31.

Images from Adam Bello via Twitter.

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari unveiled three new Nigerian bank notes on Nov. 23 that will start circulating on Dec. 15, though little about the new series is actually new.

The notes were described as a redesign by Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, but the only visible differences with the ones they are replacing are the colors. The unveiling marks the first time in 19 years that Nigeria is redesigning its currency, with the replacement of the current 200-naira ($0.46 U.S.), 500-naira ($1.15) and 1,000-naira ($2.30) notes.

Emefiele said several factors motivated the change. He mentioned the desire to stymie the increasing ease and risk of currency counterfeiting, especially for the two higher denominations; the increased risk to financial stability presented by money laundering; and the worsening shortage of clean and fit currency. The three factors are said to be creating a negative perception of the central bank.

He also indicated that the public is hoarding a significant number of the naira notes, citing statistics that indicate more than 80% of the 3.2 trillion naira worth of paper currency in circulation was held outside the vaults of the commercial banks.

The 1,000-naira note is the country’s highest-value piece of paper money. On its face are the portraits of Alhaji Aliyu Mai Bornu and Dr. Clement Isong, the first and second indigenous governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria. On the back of the note is a picture of Central Bank of Nigeria’s corporate head office in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria.

The face of the 500-naira note has a portrait of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, first president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The note’s back shows an off-shore oil rig.

The main portrait on the face of the 200-naira bank note is of Alhaji Sir Ahmadu Bello, the sarduana of Sokoto and the first premier of Northern Nigeria. The back depicts a pyramid of agricultural commodity and livestock farming.

The notes were printed by Security Printing and Minting PLC. Out of 54 African countries, Nigeria is one of the only four nations that print their own currency. The other 50 contract to print abroad and must import it.

The Nigerian public will have a very short time period — from Dec. 15 to Jan. 31, 2023 — to either use any old notes or deposit them at banks, since their legal tender status will be immediately withdrawn.

The president felt this was more than enough time, saying, “On this change of currency, there will be a lot of money, but time has been given from October to December, three months is enough for whatever money you have, to get it changed through the legal system. So, I don’t know why people are complaining about it.”

Experts did not react to the news with enthusiasm either, according to news outlets. They are said to be skeptical, given that Nigeria is a country with decades of chronic corruption, where government officials loot public funds and cause more hardship for the lower classes. Al Jazeera cited analysts who said the new notes would do little to manage inflation or combat corruption without institutional reforms.

Adedayo Bakare, an analyst with Lagos-based Money Africa, said,“If you want to curb money laundering, your financial system needs to be better; if you want to curb ransom payment, security needs to be better; if you want to curb inflation, the level at which the total money supply in the economy is growing has to slow down — so it is not about cash.”

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