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Reactions Greet President Muhammadu Buhari’s Approval Of Old N200 Notes

Reactions Greet President Muhammadu Buhari’s Approval Of Old N200 Notes

President Muhammadu Buhari has come under verbal attacks for proceeding with the implementation of the currency swap policy in spite of a restraining order by the Supreme Court.

The president, in a nationwide broadcast, yesterday, had instructed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reintroduce the old N200 note until April 10 while the old N1,000 and N500 had stopped being legal tender.

The apex court had earlier given an order for the old N1,000, N500, and N200 notes to remain legal tender pending the determination of a case brought before it by some state governors. The apex court on February 15 also reiterated its order and adjourned the matter to February 22.

But addressing the nation yesterday, the president, who apologized to Nigerians over the hardship brought about by the cash crunch, said the approval of the old N200 as legal tender for another 60 days was necessitated by the need to cushion the hardship being experienced by citizens following the implementation of the new monetary policy.

He disclosed that extensive consultations with key parties, such as the representatives of governors, the Council of State, and the Supreme Court, as well as its rulings, were also factors in the approval.

I similarly consulted widely with representatives of the State Governors as well as the Council of State. Above all, as an administration that respects the rule of law, I had also noted that the subject matter is before the court of our land and some pronouncements had been made. He said:

“In line section 20 sub-section 3 of the CBN Act 2007, all the existing old N1,000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at CBN and designated points.”

The president, who listed the advantages of the ongoing financial reforms embarked upon by the apex bank, challenged the citizens to make their deposits of the old notes by taking advantage of the platforms and windows being provided by the CBN.

According to him, he has since directed the CBN to deploy all legitimate resources and legal means to ensure that citizens are adequately educated on the new policy and enjoy easy access to cash withdrawal through the availability of appropriate amounts of currency and the ability to make deposits.

He also directed the CBN to intensify collaboration with anti-corruption agencies in checking the activities of those who were bent on sabotaging the smooth implementation of the new Naira redesign policy.

He reassured that government would continue to assess the implementation of the policy with a view to ensuring that Nigerians are not unnecessarily burdened while urging the CBN to ensure the availability of the new Naira notes across the country.

This criticism came as the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said he had met with 15 heads of commercial banks to ease the cash crunch.

Many protests and vandalization of banks and ATM outlets have rocked states like Edo, Ondo, Ekiti, Delta, Oyo, and Ogun, amongst others in reaction to the hardship faced by the common man over the naira redesign policy.

Emefiele, who spoke to State House Correspondents shortly after attending a meeting between Buhari and the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on the new naira redesign and naira swap policy at the presidential villa, assured that the old N200 notes would be made available immediately.

He appealed to the citizens to allow the policy to work, saying it would go a long way in helping the nation’s economy.

In their separate reactions, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, Speaker of the House of representative, Femi Gbajabiamila, a senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, and others faulted the president for disobeying a court order.

In an audio clip, Governor Ganduje questioned why President Buhari did not change the design of the naira in the seven and half years he had been in power. He claimed that his main agenda was to destroy the party that made him president through unpopular policies.

“Buhari contested election several times and failed until there was a joint effort from different people and he won but now, he is bent on destroying the party that gave the opportunity to be president in 2015 and 2019.

“President Buhari is someone I respect so much but why is it that when various entities like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) advised government on ensuring good policies, Buhari refused?

This policy has destabilised the economy, why is it now that election is close that he brings this monetary policy? We are beginning to lose the respect for him. How can he allow Emefiele who doesn’t know his left from his right control him?

“The IMF and World Bank said the policy is not good, yet Buhari went along with it. We will do everything within our power to make sure we win the election and when we win, we will bring back the old naira notes. Beyond the fact that some elements don’t want someone to win, they don’t even want election to hold. They want a situation where they will have interim government in place,”

he said.

For Gbajabiamila, it is not to the benefit of the country for the Federal Government to act in ways that suggest a wanton disregard for the rule of law.

“It will be better for us to strictly adhere to the court’s order in this matter pending the adjudication of the substantive suit. For the sake of our country, we must work together to resist actions that escalate tensions and endanger our democracy at this crucial moment of national awakening and rebirth.

“In all things, let the well-being of our fellow citizens and the survival of our nation be foremost in our hearts and guide all the decisions we make in this historic moment

“Citizens and visitors are experiencing grave and unnecessary hardship across our country. They spend hours and days queuing at banks and teller machines to receive stipends of their own money to afford life’s necessities.

“This situation is a consequence of the flawed implementation of the naira redesign policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). It is also the result of decisions made by the Central Bank’s Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to refuse counsel, be guided by precedent or abide by the decisions of superior courts.

“The current scarcity of cash is happening because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) did not sufficiently replace the old currency it pulled out of circulation across the country. This created an artificial scarcity that put significant additional pressure on the already epileptic electronic banking channels, resulting in a near-complete collapse of trade in the country.

“Businesses cannot operate because neither they nor their customers have access to cash, and electronic banking platforms appear to have uniformly collapsed. It is unclear what interest is served by persisting in this erroneous course towards an unfolding economic disaster that the country cannot afford. The ongoing devastation of livelihoods is bound to have consequences long after this moment has passed.”

SEE ALSO: President Muhammadu Buhari Orders Old N200 Notes To Co-exist With New Notes Till April 10 | Read His Full Text On Naira Crisis

Reacting, Adegboruwa said the directive by Buhari was a disregard for the Supreme Court. He said the president “should not vary” the ruling of the supreme court on the naira redesign policy, and urged him to reverse himself.

“Since he already admitted that the matter is subjudice, the President should not have proceeded to vary the order of the Supreme Court.

“The president and indeed the executive should not give the impression that citizens can brazenly disregard lawful orders of any court, as that will only encourage anarchy and lawlessness.

“It amounts to executive rascality, brazen disregard, and contempt of the Supreme Court, for the President to separate the denomination of the old notes for legality. It is not open to the president to choose which portion of the order of the Supreme Court that will be obeyed.

“The president should reverse his directive and add the N500 and N1,000 old notes, failing which the Supreme Court should overrule the directive of the president on February 22 when the case comes up.”

Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) said the appetite of President Buhari for flouting court orders again has become public knowledge.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, it claimed the president had in a similar fashion disobeyed an Appeal Court ruling granting unconditional bail to the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu late 2022.

The group said Buhari was laying a bad precedent by flagrantly disobeying court orders which is crucial for the sustenance of democracy and its values.

HURIWA said Buhari should know enough that democracy is about the rule of law and not by fiat and decree as done by military heads of state of which the President was once one from December 1983 to August 1985. The group cautioned that the President should not rule Nigeria like a country under military rule.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  has charged President Buhari to compel APC leaders to release new Naira notes they have allegedly hoarded.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, it said that would help to assuage the hardship Nigerians are facing as a result of scarcity of the new Naira notes.

The party alleged that it had earlier raised the alarm that the scarcity of the Naira was orchestrated by the Tinubu/Shettima Campaign to cause a crisis in the country.

“It is instructive to note that Mr. President in his address to the nation earlier today, acknowledged that the Naira redesign and swap policies are programmes of the APC administration which is also completely in control of the production and circulation of the new notes. It is therefore clear that the PDP has no part in the entire process.

“Our party had earlier alerted on how APC leaders allegedly sabotaged the system and diverted the new Naira notes so as to create widespread social unrest to justify their plan to derail the 2023 general elections and truncate our democracy.

“The PDP had also exposed how APC governors are allegedly warehousing the new Naira notes in facilities in Lagos, Kano, Kogi, Kaduna, Imo and other States of the country for the purpose of vote buying in the Presidential election,”

the PDP stated.

ALSO SEE: ‘Old Naira Notes Remain Legal Tender’ -Supreme Court Declares | Details

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However, PDP Presidential Campaign Council endorsed the directive by President Buhari. It accused the APC of taking undue advantage of the suffering associated with the prevailing scarcity of redesigned currency notes to incite the public with a view to truncating the ongoing election process.

Spokesman of the campaign council, Charles Aniagwu, said the decision of Buhari to order the re-circulation of N200 notes was in line with the president’s commitment to ensure a free, fair and credible election.

“We believe it is important that the CBN takes steps to further ameliorate what the masses are going through. And what the president did is a pointer that government is desirous of solving the challenges being experienced by very credible Nigerians as they approach the banks for their monies.

“The decision of the president that authorises the release of the old N200 notes into the economy in order to reduce the sufferings of people, is a welcome development.”

Naira scarcity conceived, birthed, and nurtured by APC

However, the opposition presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has said the APC should take responsibility for the failure of its policies, which has resulted in hardship in the country.

Atiku, in a statement, said the country has witnessed several challenges since the inception of the APC administration in 2015. Nevertheless, the PDP candidate said for political experience the ruling party wants to hoodwink Nigerians that the problems were created by others.

“This crisis may be coming on the heels of the currency swap, but it is pertinent to remind us that it is a culmination of the frustrations of Nigerians arising from the maladministration of the ruling All Progressives Congress in the past 7 years plus.

“It is easy for political expediency for the APC that has brought us to this cul de sac to want to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that the crisis was created by others.

“Truth be told, the crisis that we are witnessing today was conceived, given birth to and nurtured by the ruling APC.

“Indeed, it was long in coming.  We are all witnesses to the myriad of problems that Nigerians have had to endure as a result of the cluelessness of the APC, which came into government with no idea of a policy direction.

“We are witnesses to the massive erosion of jobs; hunger and multidimensional poverty; unabated fuel scarcity; deteriorating security that has created an industry of kidnapping and massacre of defenceless citizens; free fall of the Naira; ASUU strike which kept students at home for prolonged periods of time and a general sense of hopelessness.

“The current crisis, fallout of the policy of the ruling party’s redesign of the Naira, is only the tipping point. The least the ruling APC can do is to take responsibility for its own policy and the challenges that have followed its implementation, even as we collectively work at addressing those challenges.”

CDD: Directive’ll affect polls

Reacting, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) Director, Idayat Hassan, argued that the president’s directive was an insult and disrespect to court orders.

“The president has no authority whatsoever to override any court in the land, talk less of the Supreme Court. CDD is convinced that this is an egregious affront on the rule of law, and the principle of separation of powers.

In a constitutional democracy, which is anchored on the rule of law and separation of powers, the President’s action amounts to an unconstitutional power grab, which degrades our democracy.”

Hassan also said the directives of President Buhari would have dire consequences on the election.

“President Buhari’s decision has dire consequences for the 2023 general elections, which are less than 10 days away.

“Observers from all over the world are in Nigeria to witness the elections and report on the growth of the Nigerian democracy.

“This flagrant side-stepping of the Supreme Court’s decision does no good for our nation, the elections and the democracy we have collectively nurtured over the last 23 years,”

she said.


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