The controversy generated by the currency redesign policy of the Muhammadu Buhari administration further deepened, yesterday, as some members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and National Working Committee, NWC, disowned today’s meeting.
Sunday Vanguard had reported that the party’s National Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, had, last Friday, scheduled a meeting between state governors and NWC today.
The development, according to party sources, was informed by the worsening row between the governors and President Muhammadu Buhari over the currency policy.
The meeting slated for 2 pm is coming six days before the general elections.
“The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), His Excellency, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, invites state governors of the party to an emergency meeting to be held on Sunday, February 19, 2023, at 2 pm at the National Secretariat, Abuja,” party spokesman, Felix Morka, said in a notice on Friday night.
However, at least two members of the NWC, who pleaded anonymity, told Sunday Vanguard they were not aware of the proposed gathering.
“The said meeting was at the instance of Adamu and not the NWC.
“I am not aware of any meeting with our state governors on Sunday. I only got to know this after reading your story on your website. So, you were the one who even informed me,” one of the officials said.
The second person said the NWC never met and resolved that it should call for such a parley with governors.
“The said meeting is strange to some of us. I have not been invited and I am a member of the NWC. Yet, we saw reports quoting our spokesman as saying that NWC meets will meet with state governors. I am not aware of the meeting,” he added.
Asked if he had any insight into the agenda of the forum, he queried: “Is it not a meeting you have been invited to that you will know the agenda? How can I know the agenda of a meeting I haven’t been invited to?’’
“It does appear that the meeting is between the Chairman, Adamu, and the governors. He has a right to meet with them in his capacity as chairman but not on behalf of the NWC except where we so empower him to act,” he added.
Meanwhile, the crisis over currency scarcity took a different dimension as the Nigeria Police cautioned groups and individuals, including state governors, against triggering a crisis in the country.
It also described statements by those opposed to the policy as an attempt to heat the polity and instigate the populace against the government.
This came as Southern Governors Forum said the pandemonium occasioned by the development is likely to disrupt Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
The state chief executives consequently cautioned that unfolding events might lead to chaos, saying the currency swap has failed.
The forum spoke on a day 10 states, through their attorneys-general, filed a fresh process before the Supreme Court to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari’s pronouncement in the broadcast he made last Thursday.
The hardship resulting from the scarcity of currency notes became tougher across the country yesterday.
Our Correspondents observed that economic activities were largely disrupted, with business owners shutting down.
Commuters were stranded following the rejection of old Naira notes by transporters, who insisted on collecting new currency.
However, a few who accepted old notes increased the cost of transportation, deepening the pains of commuters.
The excitement generated by reports that, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had authorized banks to start accepting old N1000 and N500, last Friday, was short-lived by a circular from the apex bank debunking such.
Many had started accepting the old notes until the CBN denied giving such approval.
Irrespective of that, Sunday Vanguard observed that some new generation banks were accepting the old higher denomination bills, yesterday, in Lagos.
No fewer than five different banks accepted the currencies in what appeared contrary to the CBN’s statement on Friday.
Similarly, the Cash Return Portal of the bank directed people with old N500 and old N1,000 notes to their banks.
Long queues were seen in front of banks as customers attempted to gain access to the banking halls.
Some customers were unable to generate reference numbers from the CBN portal.
President Buhari ordered the apex bank to recirculate N200 and N100 notes. But at press time most ATMs failed to dispense naira notes.
The President had, in a broadcast, last Thursday, approved the use of old N200 notes for 60 days.
He, however, did not allow the continued use of the old N500 and N1,000 notes.
Buhari’s failure to suspend the policy as demanded by some, especially state governors, further led to attacks from some state governors.
The opposition to the naira redesign is specifically led by governors elected on the platform of APC.
They had earlier taken the matter to the Supreme Court, seeking the stoppage of the policy.
Following the apex court’s adjournment of the case to February 22, 2023, and Buhari’s approval of lower denominations, the opposition by the governors continued.
In apparent disapproval of the President’s directive, some of the governors urged their people to continue using old currency notes, insisting that they were still legal tender.
Those who gave the directive include Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State, Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, and Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa State.
The move, apart from setting the state governors on a collision course with the Presidency, has also put the APC in disarray.
One of the state governors in his rejection of Buhari’s latest action on the policy accused the President of attempting to truncate democracy.
Sunday Vanguard learned, yesterday, that 10 state governors had approached the Supreme Court to declare Buhari’s latest directive on the naira swap policy as unconstitutional.
The President had directed the CBN to recirculate only the old N200 notes.
This is despite the ruling of the apex court that old N200, N500, and N1000 notes are still valid.
The motion, in the suit marked SC/CV/162/2023, was filed by the attorney-generals of Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ondo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Cross River, Lagos, and Sokoto states.
The relief sought by the applicants said: “An order setting aside the directive contained in the special and presidential media Broadcast delivered on Thursday, the 16th of February, 2023 by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (the substantive 1st defendant in this suit) for being an unconstitutional overreach and usurpation of the judicial power of this court on a matter constituting the subject matter of the pending suit herein; and in respect whereof there subsists an order of interim injunction binding on all parties inclusive of the president who is a party through the named nominal defendant in person of the 1st defendant as the chief legal officer of the federation.”
The Chairman of Southern Governors Forum, Rotimi Akerodolu, yesterday, said implementation of the naira swap policy had been woeful despite claims to the contrary.
His words: “The increasing gale of violence sweeping through the country, portends danger to the current democratic governance.
“There is incontrovertible evidence bordering on miscalculation, error of judgement and/or disinformation on the part of the policymakers, especially the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, on the failed implementation of the policy, the effect of which compels the whole country to groan, immeasurably, at present.
“There is hardly anyone who contends with either the statutory functions of the Central Bank of Nigeria or the occupier of the office of its Governor, one of which is the monetary policy.
“ It is also not debatable that the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria is empowered, under our law, to exercise certain executive power.
“ It can, however, not be the original intendment of the drafters of the relevant statutes that the implementation of any policy should occasion widespread hardship and pervasive agony in the land.
“The safety of the people is the supreme law. Any measure, purportedly designed to ameliorate their conditions, must not reduce the entire populace to a beggarly existence. There is pervasive discontent in the land.
“A policy, presented as currency swap, must not be construed by both the reasonable members and people of average intelligence in the society to convey the deplorable impression of contrived subterfuge manifest in the official confiscation of legitimate deposits of the people in banks, as a countermeasure against electoral malfeasance, terrorism and banditry.
“Desirable as the policy appears to be, its implementation excites curiosity as regards the real motive of its drivers, especially at this time when the conduct of general elections is almost here.
“The suffering of the masses, occasioned by the non-availability of new notes to replace the old ones, equally decreed out of existence by presidential fiat in contravention of the CBN Act, 2007, could have been averted if the strategy of a gradual and systematic withdrawal of the old currency notes had been adopted.”
The police, in their statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, warned those opposed to the currency redesign to avoid overheating the polity.
The statement reads: “Amidst the prevailing outcries and reactions on the new naira policy in the country, the Nigeria Police Force has deemed it necessary to caution groups and individuals against divisive comments and utterances capable of heating the polity and triggering a crisis in the nation.
“This call is highly imperative as the Police perceive the reactions and utterances of certain groups and individuals as an attempt to heat the polity and spontaneously instigate the populace against the government and its policies for their peculiar interests and gains.’’