*Says naira redesign has immensely minimised the influence of money politics
*Policy hurting APC, Reps lament
*Meet Buhari, Emefiele, IGP, others in Aso Rock
*Say each Rep needs N70m cash to execute election
*Notes ATM stations now wrestling grounds
*CBN gov meets bank executives, direct them to make N200 notes available
*Pleads with Nigerians ta allow naira redesign policy work
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, to intensify collaboration with anti-corruption agencies to check the activities of those bent on frustrating the smooth implementation of the currency re-design policy.
He actually asked the apex bank to ensure the arrest and prosecution of those out to sabotage the naira redesign policy.
The President, who gave the order while addressing the nation on the CBN currency swap policy in Abuja yesterday, gave the address on a day Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ado Doguwa, told him the naira redesign policy is hurting the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and making the party unpopular.
This is even as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday appealed to Nigerians to allow the naira redesign policy of the government to work.
In the nationwide address, President Buhari called on the CBN to ensure that any institution or person(s) found to have impeded or sabotaged the implementation was made to bear the full weight of the law.
The president said: “I am not unaware of the obstacles placed on the path of innocent Nigerians by unscrupulous officials in the banking industry, entrusted with the process of implementation of the new monetary policy.
“I am deeply pained and sincerely sympathise with you all, over these unintended outcomes.
“To stem this tide, I have directed the CBN to deploy all legitimate resources and legal means to ensure that our citizens are adequately educated on the policy; enjoy easy access to cash withdrawal through the availability of the appropriate amounts of currency; and ability to make deposits.
“I have similarly directed that the CBN intensify collaboration with anti-corruption agencies, so as to ensure that any institution or person(s) found to have impeded or sabotaged the implementation is made to bear the full weight of the law.”
He maintained that during the extended phase of the deadline for the currency swap, he listened to invaluable pieces of advice from well-meaning citizens and institutions across the nation.
Buhari added: “Considering the health of our economy and the legacy we must bequeath to the next administration and future generations of Nigerians, I admonish every citizen to strive harder to make their deposits by taking advantage of the platforms and windows being provided by the CBN.
“Let me assure Nigerians that our administration will continue to assess the implementation, with a view to ensuring that Nigerians are not unnecessarily burdened.
“In this regard, the CBN shall ensure that new notes become more available and accessible to our citizens through the banks.
“I wish to once more appeal for your understanding till we overcome this difficult, transient phase within the shortest possible time.’’
On the forthcoming February 25 presidential election, the president affirmed that the new monetary policy had also contributed immensely to the minimisation of the influence of money in politics.
Buhari, who also gave approval for usage of the old N200 note till April 10, said this was a positive departure from the past and represented a bold legacy step by this administration, towards laying a strong foundation for free and fair elections.
Naira Redesign hurting APC, Reps lament
In a related development, the leader of the House of Representatives, Ado Doguwa, yesterday told President Muhammadu Buhari that the naira redesign policy was working against the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and making it unpopular.
Doguwa, who is the Chairman of the Special Ad-hoc Committee on Naira Redesign, Cashless Policy and Naira Swap, stated this after he led members of the committee to an audience with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Also present at the meeting with the President were the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the representative of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba Alkali, the Director-General, Department of State Services, DSS, Magaji Bichi, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijani Umar and the Economic Adviser to the President, Adedoyin Salami.
Doguwa said the committee came to see the President, in spite of his broadcast and his directives to the CBN governor to commend him for that but to also tell him “It is not yet Uhuru.”
The House leader said he told President Buhari that the committee will continue to interface with the CBN in the implementation of his directives, adding that the Green Chamber would not hesitate to invoke the instrumentality of law to call the CBN governor to order if he derailed from implementing the directive.
He said: “One important thing I want to stress is that Mr President has addressed most of the issues we want to raise with him at the national broadcast this morning (yesterday). But that notwithstanding, Mr President allowed us to meet him, believing the fact that the committee coming to him, represented the institution of the National Assembly.
“When you have issues to do with policies of the government, you have matters that border on lives and livelihood of our people, the best institution to speak for Nigerians is this institution, the National Assembly, and in this case, the House of Representatives.
“What excites us is that when we met Mr President, he was already on the ground with those agencies that have something to do with this issue of naira redesign and naira swap. The CBN governor was there at his instance, the representative of the Ministry of Finance was there, the AGF was also represented there, and the Inspector-General of Police was also there.
“We came to say to Mr President that in spite of his broadcast this morning (yesterday), in spite of the fact that he has told the CBN to make some amendments, to take some new steps to ameliorate the hardship this policy has already entrenched in our economy which is impacting negatively on the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, we told Mr President clearly that it is not yet Uhuru.
“For instance, the Central Bank has been directed to make money available, this new naira notes should be made available. But how do we ensure that Mr President’s directive is carried out?
‘’That cannot be guaranteed. Thank God Mr President addressed us and addressed the CBN governor once again to our face and we used the opportunity to also tell the CBN governor that ‘you must implement the directive of the President as contained in the letters of his speech; not a matter of perception, not a matter of being professional.
“You cannot be more professional than the feelings of the actual players in the marketplace of the economy.
“No matter what policy you want to bring; no matter how good or decent that policy is, as long as it brings about hardship or pressure to the system, then that policy must be deemed to be otherwise. It is on this note that we told Mr President that we would continue to interface with relevant agencies, especially the CBN.
“Of course, while we are discharging our constitutional right to oversight every institution of government, we must ensure that the directive of Mr President is carried out to the letter, failure to do that must involve every instrumentality of the law, legislative instrumentality, to ensure that Presidential orders are abided with and ensure that the laws of the land are also respected.
“I want to acknowledge that in Mr President’s speech, he has come on the same page with us as regards the interpretation of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act that states very clearly that if the banknote is redesigned, the old currency must be redeemable at the time of presentation, either at the Central Bank or at the commercial banks.
“This is contained in Mr President’s speech and not what the CBN governor said that the old notes could be redeemable at the Central Bank. The constitution says that the money must be redeemable at the banks.
“With due respect, can our local traders have access to the Central Bank? Certainly, policies are made and when those policies are seen to be quite impracticable and inimical to the development of the economy, those of us in the House of Representatives will blow the whistle.
“We have blown this whistle in the National Assembly and we have come this far to blow this whistle to Mr President while thanking him for the new steps he has taken to cushion the effects of this unfortunate policy.
“Of course, I took special apology to some of our colleagues who are not members of our party, but I, as a member of the ruling party, told Mr President that the policy in itself is a policy that is against the ruling party, my party because it’s a government policy, Muhammadu Buhari’s government, government of the APC.
“Nigerians, at the time of elections, are now looking at my government coming up with an unpopular policy because it does not matter if the policy may be seen to be professionally good.
‘’Some of us see a lot of things good about the policy, but our worry as members of the ruling party is why now? 30-40 days to elections you come out with a policy that is not widely accepted by Nigerians and whether we like it or not, that will be seen as the programme of the government.
“So those of us in the APC are not happy about it and I believe some of my colleagues in other parties would not see this as a good policy. Not good because the time is absolutely wrong.
“But I want to state without any fear of contradiction that I share in the perception of Mr President, in the perception of the CBN governor that there is a need for us to entrench this policy to be able to address some security problems; there is need for this policy so that Nigeria can be seen to be working on the same page with international economies.
“But why do you want us to be cashless at a time we are facing a general election where security apparatus working to protect the election process would require cash to service their logistics?
“Why will you insist on cashless when even INEC has raised a lot of fears that cash is needed to carry out activities by the electoral commission.”
He said further that the Electoral Act made provision for the amounts individuals, especially those contesting elections, were supposed to have to execute elections.
“I need to have N70 million in hard copy, the law has permitted it and as I speak to you, I don’t have it. ATM stations have turned to wrestle grounds,’’ Doguwa said.
Emefiele meets bank executives, and directs them to make old N200 notes available
Similarly, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, also yesterday met with chief executives of banks, asking them to make available the old N200 notes to their customers as directed by President Buhari.
Recall that the President in his nationwide broadcast yesterday, gave approval for use of the old N200 notes till April 10, while declaring that the old N500 and N1000 notes were no longer legal tender.
He appealed to Nigerians to allow the Naira redesign policy of the government to work.
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and the House of Representatives Special Ad-Hoc Committee on Naira Redesign, Cashless Policy and Currency Swap at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the CBN governor also pleaded with Nigerians to allow the currency swap policy work.
According to him, allowing the currency swap policy to work will go a long way to help the nation’s economy.
Emefiele stated that he had met with 15 bank executives and directed them to make the N200 notes available immediately.
He said: “The truth is that we are all servants, we are serving Nigerians. As far as we are concerned, the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, has spoken on this matter and the President has sealed the whole issue this morning (yesterday) in his broadcast.
“I think I can only just appeal to Nigerians, let’s allow this policy to work. This policy is one policy that goes to reduce the problem of corruption and illicit financial flaws.
“This policy goes to resolve some of the problems in the economy, this policy also goes to reduce the level of insecurity in the country. So these three issues, which are the tripod of this administration’s policy, are all embedded in this policy.
‘’We should just allow it to work. We keep saying this, there are some temporary pains, but I can assure Nigerians that the long-run benefit to Nigeria is overwhelming and we should just give it a chance to work.”
On what Nigerians should expect from the CBN, following the directive of the President, Emefiele said the President had given his directives.
“I met with about fifteen banks this morning (yesterday) and we have given them directives to make the old N200 available, effective today (yesterday). And I can assure Nigerians this will help reduce the pain.
‘’We meet with the bankers at least once daily to get feedback and the rest of them and I think we should just allow this to work, the temporary pains are regrettable but I can assure Nigerians that it will be well,’’ the CBN governor assured.