Central Nigeria Karara Nasarawa State, mother and children

Violent protests broke out in Nigerian cities last week as residents struggled to get their hands on the country’s newly designed naira notes to replace the dirty cash that has been in circulation, get a hold of inflation, and protect the country against counterfeiting, according to the BBC.

The 200-million-person country, which is Africa’s biggest economy, is also working toward a cashless society. (See “TOP TREND, FROM DIRTY CASH TO DIGITAL TRASH: DIGITAL CURRENCIES ARE COMING,” 24 Jan 2023.)

Videos emerged on social media that showed protesters in Benin City and Warri setting fire to bank branches. Three people were shot dead while a crowd attempted to raid the Central Bank of Nigeria. 

The country’s old notes were expected to expire on 10 February, but that date has been extended to 10 April. France 24 reported that there is a belief that some of these bank branches have been hoarding some of these notes. 

Reporters covering the protests said some families have not eaten because they don’t have access to cash. Unlike many parts of the world, about 40 percent of Nigerians do not have bank accounts. 

“We were told to drop the old currency (notes) in the bank and that new one is coming,” Godgift Inemesit, 28, told the Associated Press. “But we don’t have the new currency and no old currency. Everything is just tough.”

The AP report described a country with its banking system in disarray. Some bank clients have been camped outside branches in hopes to be first online the next day and fights have broken out. Some bank employees have been attacked and small businesses have refused to accept the old banknote. 

The report said, “Businesses unable to carry out transactions have been forced to close, and people are illegally selling new currency notes at higher rates.”

Godwin Emefiele, a central bank leader in the country, told the AP that some government officials are “buying the new notes and storing them for whatever purposes.”

TREND FORECAST: In the 28 July 2020 Trends Journal, we forecasted that “the world monetary system will devolve from dirty cash to digital trash.” Since then, the devolution has progressed at a fast clip, leading us to renew our prediction as a Top Trend 2023.

Nigeria’s central bank, in an effort to save the country money on foreign transaction fees and to become a cashless society, introduced a domestic card to rival Mastercard and Visa, Al Jazeera reported. The country launched its first digital currency, the e-naira, in 2021, the report said.

The move has hit severe resistance. ATMs and banks have been destroyed across the country as the population resists the adoption of the eNaira CBDC.

One Twitter user posted a video of looters at the bank and tweeted, “Lagos Nigeria banks have collapsed switching over to a digital currency exchange. No more cash and the people are rioting no food no gas no cash. Coming to a bank near you. Welcome to the new liberal world order. Banks will do bail ins to protect their assets. It’s coming.”

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