Human rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has on 16th February 2023, faulted the message of President Muhammadu Buhari on the old N200 naira note remaining legal tenders alongside the newly designed 200, 500, and 1,000 naira notes. Falana stated that the president did not give any assurance that the suffering in the country will end anytime soon, hence the old 200 naira is not sufficient to circulate. Recall, the president made a national broadcast in the early hours of 16th February stating that the old N200 naira notes remain in circulation till April 10, 2023, while the old N500 and N1,000 notes cease to remain legal tender.
Falana said, “After 13 days (rather than seven) President Buhari eventually announced a decision this morning. But it is not enough to end the crisis. There are not enough old 200 naira notes to replace all the old N1,000 and N500 notes. In addition, the new deadline of 10th of April is too close.
“If the government was serious, the crisis could be ended in a few days. All the old currency notes could be made legal tender until the end of the year. In addition, all the old currency could be changed at the banks as well as at the CBN until the end of next year. This would give confidence back in the markets and the old currency would again be accepted.
“The problem is that the corrupt elite thinks that increased suffering and deaths of the common people are a price worth paying if they defeat their opponents. Hungry people can no longer buy food and so they are in more danger of dying from common diseases. People cannot afford to travel to the hospital. If they get there, they cannot afford tests. If they take the tests, they cannot afford the medicine.
“This crisis was created by the government. It is only the government that can end the crisis. The government could end this crisis in a matter of days. The CBN could issue old currency notes to the banks to issue to the public in a matter of days. That is all that is needed to end the crisis. The untold crisis across the country, the misery, suffering, and deaths are a result of a fight between different clans of the corrupt elite. The common people are suffering as a result of disputes over who will loot for the next four years or more.
“Unless firm action is taken, this crisis will get worse in the days to come. The suffering and anger are likely to make violence around the election worse. Then we still have to suffer the Buhari Government for at least another three months. Any alternative to this will only make the situation worse”.