From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Against the backdrop of the current hardship faced by citizens over the redesign of the new naira note, the Federal Government has stated it is concerned but describes the pain as transient.
The Federal Government has said it is concerned but the sufferings and hardships that characterise the currency swap in banks across the country, describing it as transient and temporary pain.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed said this at the 65th ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team in the State House Abuja.
According to her, President Muhammadu Buhari is unhappy with the situation, likening it to a wound that needs to be dressed. She maintained that the harsh realities faced by citizens over the swap is temporary and a necessary price to pay for the nation’s economy to burgeon.
Ahmed also emphasised that the new policy is necessary and appropriate at this moment to combat corruption, adding that it has had some positive effects with the massive mopped-up of funds outside the banking system.
Responding to a question on if the government is not concerned that this beautiful its idea was causing untold hardship in the lives of Nigerians, especially in an election year, she said:
“Of course, we are worried. We are not happy that citizens have to queue and struggle at ATMs to be able to get their cash. But this is a temporary situation.
“Let me just give you an analogy. If you have a wound, for you to be able to heal that wound, you need to be dressed. And sometimes, when you go to the hospital, they put iodine on the wound and it is very painful. It is necessary to do that to be able to get the wound to heal. So, it’s not easy. Mr President is not happy that citizens are suffering. But we are convinced that it is something that needs to be done at this time and also the Central Bank has been responsive in terms of providing some extension and also further explanation that comes to the closing date, that it is not all over.
“There is still an opportunity for citizens as provided for in the CBN Act, Section 20 subsection 3 to actually take the old currency to the central bank for redemption.
“So, it’s not all over. But the positive side of it is that there is a lot of currency that has been mopped up by this operation. And it means it has achieved a good level of success, but the only sore point is the pain that it has caused to citizens which is regrettable, but which is also very transient and temporary and the bulk is continuing to address.”