Some state governors in Northern Nigeria have said the old Naira notes are still legal tender in their states in direct affront to president Muhamnadu Buhari’s directive on his administration’s new monetary policy.
The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and his Jigawa State counterpart, Abubakar Badaru, have described the president’s directive that the new monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria stands as illegal and an affront on the Supreme Court.
Governor El-rufai directed residents of Kaduna State to ignore what he described as an unlawful order and continue to spend the old bank notes that the CBN has phased out
The new monetary policy regime which kicked off fee weeks ago amid complaints of scarcity of bank notes allowed for continue use of all bank notes except the N200, N500 and N1000 notes.
But the president in Thursday nationwide broadcast lifted a partial order on some sections of the policy, announcing that the initially phased out N200 should be reintroduced to ease financial constraint being experienced until April 10.
He however insisted that the other denominations of the naira remain illegal and phased out.
This was against the ex parte order issued by the Supreme Court last week, which was re-emphasied on Wednesday against the suit instituted by state governments of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara.
Some other states joined on the second day when the case was announced for hearing forcing the court to adjourn to 22 of February for hearing.
But El-Rufai doubled down his opposition to the policy with a statewide broadcast of his own to counter the president, insisting that all previous bank notes remain legal tenders.
The governor expressed “regret at the needless suffering you are enduring as a result of the prolonged fuel shortage and the difficulties occasioned by the so-called “currency redesign” policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria. We understand your pain.
” I assure you that as your State Governor, I have been working with my other colleagues to do everything in our power to end these pains.
“While publicly supporting what appeared to be a beneficial policy, we innocently engaged privately with the President and the leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria to review the implementation of the policy so as to reduce its negative impact on the lives and livelihoods of our people, and end the pain being inflicted on citizens.
“In the absence of any progress to modify implementation on the part of the architects, we were forced to go public about two weeks ago, with our concerns and demand that this suffering must stop.
“We take seriously our duty to protect ordinary people from the consequences of these policy fiascos. The sad fact is that the victims of these mindless policies are the people that elected us. It is their welfare that is being threatened.
“Many of our people have been left in a situation where the money they put in banks has literally been confiscated, depriving them of the ability to buy food and basic necessities.
“Our traders cannot sell as much as they used to because their customers have no access to their hard-earned money,” the governor lamented.
He stated that, “We have been officially informed that the currency redesign policy is to reduce money laundering and render useless stashes of high denomination Naira that many politicians and public officers have accumulated through corruption and other illicit activities. As earlier stated, we are fully in support of such a policy and we made this public from the beginning.
“We had privately expressed concerns about the timing of the currency design policy and the unrealistic timeline for its implementation. We were assured that all steps have been taken to ensure that we avoid the recent experience of India, where implementation of a similar demonetisation policy targeted at politicians ended up hurting the poorest and small businesses the most.
“In official briefings to the President, the Central Bank of Nigeria constantly alluded to the fact that the policy also targets politicians who have accumulated a huge war chest for vote buying during the elections. It is now clear that the President has been deceived by the Central Bank of Nigeria and some elements in his government into buying into this overarching narrative, in the name of ensuring free and fair elections in 2023.
“It is important for the people of Kaduna State, and indeed Nigeria, to know that contrary to the public pronouncements and apparent good intentions, this policy was conceived and sold to the President by officials who completely lost out in the Gubernatorial and Presidential Primaries of the APC in June 2022.
“Once Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emerged as the candidate in June 2022, and subsequently did not pick one of them as his running mate, this currency redesign policy was conceived to ensure that the APC presidential candidate is deprived of what they alleged is a humongous war chest,” he stated.
He accused those he said are behind the policy as targeting “a nationwide shortage of cash so that citizens are incited to vote against APC candidates across the board resulting in massive losses for the Party in all the elections;
“Ensure that the cash crunch is so serious, along with the contrived and enduring fuel shortage existing since September 2022, that the 2023 Elections do not hold at all, leading to an Interim National Government to be led by a retired Army General;
“Sustain the climate of shortage of fuel, food and other necessities, leading to mass protests, violence and breakdown of law and order that would provide a fertile foundation for a military take-over;
“In the pursuit of these objectives, the Central Bank of Nigeria and these other disgruntled Federal officials have so far convinced the President that it is fine for ordinary citizens to be dispossessed of their hard-earned money, and starved if need be, while small and medium-sized businesses are deprived of access to their capital, thereby bringing trade and exchange to a grinding halt.
“All our efforts to modify implementation of the policy to avoid what we assumed were unintended consequences were unsuccessful. I chose to speak out first as one person that has been particularly close to the President, believing that his actions were motivated by innocence, and mindful of his legacy. I have no regrets for doing my duty in this regard. One day, the President will appreciate what some of us are being insulted for today,” he added.
He added that, “Yet, the politicians that the officials have convinced the President to regard as the real targets of the currency redesign policy have not been impeded in any way by it so far.
“Indeed, two of the presidential candidates, and a running mate of the opposition parties own or have preferred access to some of the licensed banks.
“For that reason and by various clandestine arrangements, these politicians have access to hundreds of millions of these new notes, while the traders, merchants, students and other citizens are queuing for days to withdraw a few thousand Naira just to buy food and necessaries.
“Within two to three weeks of implementation, it was clear to everyone that the architects of this policy can see that it is our people that are being terribly affected, and not the politicians.
“It is quite unfortunate that many politicians who either own banks or have privileged access to money are so insulated from the pains of talakawa that they are recklessly endorsing a policy that is being badly implemented.
“I am referring here to the comments by the candidate of one of the opposition parties who expressed opposition to the recommendation first of the APC state governors, and subsequently of all the governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors Forum that the implementation timeline be extended, to enable the old and new notes to be legal tender side by side until the cash shortage ends.
“My dear people of Kaduna State. Let me explain how the architects of this policy intentionally designed it to fail. The total currency in circulation in Nigeria was estimated at N3.2 trillion at the end of 2022. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria, N2.1 trillion has been withdrawn as at early February.
Source: The Whistler