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Naira Redesign: Buhari Out To Truncate Democracy– Ganduje

By Adedayo Said

Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has alleged that the naira redesign policy of President Muhammadu Buhari is aimed at truncating Nigeria’s democracy. 

Ganduje spoke late Wednesday in Kano when he met with the Forum of Former Parliamentarians, North-West zone, that visited to intimate him of their resolve to support the presidential ambition of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Kano State is one of the states before the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the policy. Ganduje’s allegation came in the wake of the hardship Nigerians are passing through in accessing the new N200, N500 and N1, 000 notes. 

President Buhari had in his address to Nigerians on Thursday said the naira swap was meant to tame inflation and other infractions. The Kano governor is previously not known for openly criticising President Buhari as he had been one of the people that worked hard to sell the president to the electorate.  

Ganduje said it was unfortunate that despite the collective efforts made by the APC to ensure Buhari’s election victories in 2015 and 2019 after several losses, the president had resolved to pay the party and those that supported him back by destroying the party that brought him to power. 

He said, “Imagine someone has been contesting without winning elections until after a merger was formed. He won the election and spent four years and re-contested again and he won, now that he is about to go, he is doing nothing but to destroy the party that elected him,” Ganduje said. 

On the policy, Ganduje asked why the president and CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele did not think of the policy seven years ago and why it had to be on the eve of an election. 

“What is wrong with doing it after elections? Why hasn’t he done this in the past seven years? What is the meaning of all these? This CBN governor is not a politician; he doesn’t know anything about politics. How can a politician enjoy this policy? Imagine how as a leader you watch banks engulfed by fire, if not that the democracy has decayed, will that be possible?

“How is it possible when the World Bank said the policy is wrong, the IMF said it is wrong, other leaders said it is wrong, but you said you need seven days to think over it? The poor man selling vegetables will have his goods rotten (before the end of the thinking period), that is why I close down one supermarket for rejecting the old notes. The Supreme Court has said the old notes are still a legal tender, that is why any bank that refuses to collect, I will revoke their certificate and if they do that, they cannot work”, he said.

Ganduje also stated that Tinubu would revoke the policy after the election. He said the policy was not that of the ruling party but they are aware this is part of the plot to ensure elections do not hold, saying the development is similar to how MKO Abiola was denied of being president. 

“It was like this at the time of SDP with the Association of Better Nigeria (ABN); the CBN governor is the ABN of this dispensation. 

 “Therefore, this is even beyond not wanting someone to win the election; it is democracy itself they don’t want. They want to set up an interim government committee like that of (Ernest) Shonekan. 

“Which credible politician do you think they can put to head such a committee? Except you just bring people that do not represent the masses but their families, those are the ones you can bring to form interim government,” he said, adding that these people will be puppeteer to ensure only the candidate of their choice emerges victorious. 

On his part, the convener of the former parliamentarian forum, Alhaji Adamu Panda, said the forum agreed that the next president should be someone who believes in the philosophy of building the people in building the nation.

He said they believed that the unwritten agreement between the North and the South must be respected and keeping the country stable and united must therefore be of importance to all.

“Support for power-shift is therefore necessary for us,” he said.

The forum also said the North backing any other presidential candidate aside from Tinubu could jeopardise the budding relationship between the North and the South, which could see the South West seek alliances elsewhere. 

Efforts to get the reaction of the presidency on what Ganduje said were not successful at the time of going to press. 

President Buhari yesterday in his national broadcast declared that old N500 and N1000 notes were no longer legal tender, contrary to the Supreme Court’s injunction of February 8 restraining the CBN and federal government from phasing out the old notes by February. 

The apex bank had redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes late last year and set a deadline of January 31 for the use of old naira notes. Buhari directed Nigerians to swap the affected currencies at the CBN and other designated places.

But after intense pressure, the CBN extended the deadline to February 10. 

Some governors had filed a suit at the Supreme Court two days to the deadline and the court restrained the CBN from banning the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023, but Emefiele had said there was no need for the deadline to be shifted. 

In his broadcast, Buhari acknowledged the hardship Nigerians are going through as a result of the naira redesign policy, saying he had directed the CBN to make new notes available. 

He extended the validity of only old N200 notes to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023 to April 10 2023. 

We’ll pump N800bn before February ends – Emefiele

President Buhari has asked the CBN to consider recommendations offered by the Ado Doguwa-led House of Representatives’ ad-hoc Committee on Naira Re-design, Cashless Policy and Currency Swap, to correct identified problems with the new national monetary policy. 

The president gave the advice on Thursday when he received a briefing from members of the House ad-hoc Committee at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. 

The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, assured that N200 currency notes taken out of circulation would be moved back from yesterday. He promised that by the end of February, the CBN would have brought between N700 billion to N800 billion, well in excess of what is needed to run the economy, into circulation. 

Speaking to State House reporters after the meeting, Emefiele said he had met 15 top banks earlier in the day in an effort to resolve prevailing problems and will do so again later in the evening, appealing to Nigerians to be patient with the process as the current pains will soon ease off.

President’s broadcast contempt of court – Lawyers 

Meanwhile, lawyers have described yesterday’s broadcast by Buhari directing the reintroduction of N200 notes after the withdrawal of the old notes as contempt of court. Femi Falana (SAN) said it amounted to overruling the Supreme Court. 

He said, “With respect, the decision of the president to exclude old N500 and N1000 notes from the legal tender of Nigeria is of no legal effect as it constitutes a contravention of Section 287(1) of the Constitution, which provides that ‘The decisions of the Supreme court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Supreme Court.’ 

“In view of the foregoing, we urge the federal government to comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court without any further delay. “After all, President Buhari says loudly that he has since become a converted democrat.” 

Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law, Monday Ubani said the president’s announcement to the country was in clear contempt of the Supreme Court, saying Buhari should have allowed the judicial process to run through. 

“His intervention, though well intended as posited by some economists, sends a dangerous signal in our democracy.

“The international community is watching to see how much we mess our system up,” he said. 

Similarly, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) said the announcement amounted to a modification of the decision of the Supreme Court. 

 “It may not necessarily amount to a contempt of court in that the president might not have intended to disparage the judiciary by his modification.”

It’s regrettable – Gbajabiamila

Speaker, House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila, yesterday faulted the decision of the federal government to disregard the Supreme Court order on the issue of currency swap.

In a statement by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi, he said though the president’s directive was a step in the right direction, the government could not afford situations that “suggest a wanton disregard for the rule of law.”

He said: “The decision still falls short of the order of the Supreme Court that the old currencies remain legal tender pending the adjudication of a pending suit brought by state governments on the legality of the policy and its implementation.”

Decision won’t make impact- Experts 

An economist, Dr. Muda Yusuf, who said that the president’s directive cannot address the naira crisis, opined that the disruption caused to the economy will continue until the end of the current administration. 

“This can’t solve the scarcity problem. The N200 note is just about 7% of the total bank notes. Almost 90% of total transactions are done in N500 and N1, 000 notes. Nothing will change,” he said. 

The former Director General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the solution to the crisis is for the president and the CBN to obey the Supreme Court’s order, noting that the policy has subjected Nigerians, especially the poor to untoward hardship. Prof. Uche Uwaleke, a former Commissioner for Finance, Imo State, said the president’s directive should have some impact if the CBN increases the supply of lower denominations. 

“I am in agreement with the president. The CBN should ensure increased supply of lower denominations as well as increase cash withdrawal limit to at least N100, 000,” he said. 

Nigerians express cautious optimism 

Nigerians have expressed cautious optimism over the reintroduction of the old N200 notes to the economy as directed by President Buhari. 

A spare part dealer at First Gate, along Agidingbi Road, Lagos, Prince Meekness, said the naira scarcity has hurt his business significantly. 

“Getting customers is very difficult. Customers are not coming. We didn’t see the new notes to buy something. Unfortunately, the old notes (N500 and N1000) in our hands have been rendered invalid. I have been sitting here all day without any customer, the government should fix this crisis,” he said. 

On her part, Funmilayo Olorode, a petty trader, said she no longer has working capital for her business owing to the challenges caused by the naira redesign policy. 

“I have had to sell my fruit, especially bananas, at a reduced price so that it won’t spoil. I sell N500 worth of bananas for N200. But now, nobody is even buying anything. I don’t have money to buy new fruits to sell,” she lamented. 

Frank Eze, who works in Ikeja, said the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, can address the challenges if more currencies are injected into the system. 

“The bank can pump more money into the market for people to use. It is not about the reintroduction of the N200 notes, it is more about the availability,” he said.

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