In October 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced plans to redesign the three highest denominations of the naira - N200, N500, and N1,000 bills - and instructed Nigerians to deposit their old notes before January 31, 2023, when they would cease to be legal tender.
According to the bank, the change was to tackle currency counterfeiting and terrorism financing, among other vices in the country.
Although the deadline was extended to February 10, many Nigerians have found obtaining the new naira notes challenging. This has agitated them, coupled with the increased cost of living and petrol cost hike.
Nigerians struggle to purchase food or pay bills as vendors and service providers have stopped accepting old naira notes. Many citizens have become frustrated as they believe the situation is a ploy to disrupt the 2023 general elections.
On February 15, 2022, some youths trooped out in Edo and Delta states to protest their inability to get cash from halls of commercial banks and ATMs.
What started as a peaceful protest in the early hours of the day was quickly hijacked by hoodlums.
Two deaths were recorded on Sapele road, Edo State. Banks in Udu road, Enerhen junction in Delta State had been destroyed and burnt,
The chaos led to road barricades, leading to traffic gridlock. Bonfires were made on the road as men of the Nigeria Police Force were also seen on the ground, apparently to monitor the protest.
On Twitter, Nigerians called on the CBN boss, Godwin Emefiele, to start rolling out the lower denominations of the naira notes if the higher ones were unavailable.
Barely ten days to the general elections, Nigerians are hopeful that the Central bank will successfully implement its policy and make more cash available for the teeming population.