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Buhari Eases Currency Crisis In Time for Vote

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has extended by 60 days the deadline for older currency notes to remain legal tender following violent protests over a shortage of cash. During a nationally televised address early Thursday, Buhari said the 200-naira note would be allowed back into circulation until April 10. The deadline was not extended for the old 500- and 1,000-naira notes. Buhari said the decision followed consideration of the impact of the currency transition on citizens. “I’m addressing you to identify with you and express my sympathy over the difficulties being experienced as we continue the implementation of new monetary policies,” he said. “I’m not unaware of the obstacles placed on the path of innocent Nigerians by unscrupulous officials in the banking industry. I sincerely sympathize with you all over these unintended outcomes.” Buhari also pledged a crackdown on anyone trying to sabotage the process. Buhari maintained that the introduction of the new currency would strengthen the economy, fight insecurity and stifle illicit financial flows and money laundering. Buhari said more than 80 percent of the $6 billion worth of the old bills formerly in circulation have been recalled so far. Buhari also said the transition would hinder politicians trying to influence voters with cash gifts before and during the February 25 elections.