Supply constraint arising from the limited capacity to print enough new Naira notes is responsible for the severe cash crunch hurting Nigerians, CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele admitted amid the disappointing naira swap policy of the Buhari administration.
Mr Emefiele made the disclosure on Friday when he briefed the emergency meeting of the National Council of State, sources who attended the meeting told PREMIUM TIMES. President Muhammadu Buhari convened the meeting as threats of social instability rise following the shortage of Naira.
Violent protests have been recorded in parts of the country, including in Ogun, Oyo and Akwa Ibom in the country’s south, and the media is awash with lamentations of suffering Nigerians, who are not able to access their funds for transactions, especially in the cash-dominated informal economy.
Many banks in various states have shut down their operations as citizens violently protest their inability to access their funds.
Many governors have also echoed the lamentations of the citizens.
On Friday, Mr Emefiele told the leaders that the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc (The Mint), suffers capacity constraints resulting in the failure to print adequate new notes to replace the old N200, N500 and 1,000 notes.
The extended deadline to phase out the old notes is today, 10 February. However, a Supreme Court decision this week asked that the deadline be further extended. The Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, is challenging that interim ruling by the Supreme Court and the central bank has not spoken on how it intends to comply with the ruling, thus leaving Nigerians confused.
Without a definite pronouncement by the federal government or the CBN, Nigerians have started rejecting the old notes, on-the-ground reporting across the country shows.
In further reporting for this story, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that The Mint’s capacity constraints rest on not having enough papers to print new Naira notes.
“The Mint has run out of papers to print N500 and 1,000 notes,” a source said, explaining the supply constraints The Minit faces. “They have placed orders with a German firm and De La Rue of the UK (for papers) but they have been placed on a long waiting list so their orders cannot be met now,”
The source said The Mint had received CBN’s request to print 70 million copies of the new notes, totalling N126 billion to be pumped into circulation by today, the source added, regretting, however, that the request could not be met because “The Mint doesn’t have the capacity.”
PREMIUM TIMES could not speak with The Mint officially.