Nigeria’s former president, Muhammadu Buhari, says approving the naira redesign policy was a way to make sure his “integrity became unquestionable”.
The immediate-past president spoke in an interview with NTA, his first since handing over to the current President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in May.
Recall that the central bank, with Buhari’s support, announced its plans to redesign and circulate a new series of three banknotes out of the existing eight, in October 2022.
The redesigned N200, N500, and N1000 notes were due for circulation on December 15, 2022; while the pre-existing notes would remain legal tender until January 31, 2023.
On November 23, Buhari unveiled the redesigned naira notes, earlier than scheduled.
The move triggered nationwide chaos as cash became scarce before and during the general elections.
Speaking on the naira redesign policy in the interview, Buhari said the move was imperative to check those who had stashed ill-gotten money.
“Whether Nigerians believe it or not, we are an underdeveloped country. And in that sort of situation, there’s materialism and sometimes ruthlessly they didn’t care how they made the money,” he said.
“I still feel that the only way I could deprive these people was just to make sure that my integrity became unquestionable… I think as a developing country we still have a long way to go.
“The motivation (for the policy) was to try and make Nigerians believe that there is no shortcut to successful leadership.”
The former president also spoke about how technology made him win the 2015 presidential polls after previous futile attempts.
“Instead of people expressing sympathy, people laughed at me because I didn’t have money, because I couldn’t buy influence in any form, either from influential people or others. And I said ‘God dey’. And he sent the Permanent Voter Card (PVC). Meaning you now have only one vote,” the ex-president said.
Buhari also said he is not sure he achieved all he had set out to achieve as Nigeria’s leader from 2015 to 2023, adding however, that he does not miss being out of office.