…as police allege divisive comments
By Dayo Johnson, Omeiza Ajayi, Kingsly Omonobi and Dickson Omobola
The controversy generated by the currency redesign policy of the Muhammadu Buhari administration deepened further yesterday, when some members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the National Labor Committee, NWC, repudiated today’s meeting.
Sunday Vanguard had reported that the party’s national chairman, Abdullahi Adamu, had last Friday scheduled a meeting between the state governors and the NWC for today.
The development, according to party sources, was informed by the worsening dispute between the governors and President Muhammadu Buhari over monetary policy.
The meeting scheduled for 2:00 p.m. comes six days before the general elections.
“The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), His Excellency Senator Abdullahi Adamu, invites the state governors of the party to an emergency meeting to be held on Sunday, February 19, 2023 at 2 p.m. at the National Secretariat, Abuja,” party spokesman Felix Morka said in a notice late Friday.
However, at least two NWC members, who requested anonymity, told Sunday Vanguard they were unaware of the proposed meeting.
“This meeting was at the request of Adamu and not of the NWC.
“I am not aware of any meetings with our state governors on Sunday. I only came to know this after reading your story on your website. So, you were the one who even informed me,” said one of the officials.
The second person said that the NWC never met and resolved that it should convene such a parliament with the governors.
“Such a meeting is strange to some of us. I have not been invited and I am a member of the NWC. However, we did see reports quoting our spokesperson as saying that NWC meetings will meet with state governors. I am not aware of the meeting,” he added.
When asked if he had any idea of the forum’s agenda, he asked, “Isn’t it a meeting that you’ve been invited to where you’ll know the agenda? How can I find out the agenda of a meeting to which I have not been invited?”
“It seems that the meeting is between the president, Adamu, and the governors. He has the right to meet with them in his capacity as president, but not on behalf of the NWC, except where we authorize him to act,” he added.
Meanwhile, the currency shortage crisis took on a different dimension when Nigerian police warned groups and individuals, including state governors, not to trigger a crisis in the country.
He also described the statements by those who oppose the policy as an attempt to heat up the policy and incite the population against the government.
This came as the Southern Governors Forum said the development chaos was likely to disrupt Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.
Consequently, state chief executives warned that the unfolding events could lead to chaos, saying the currency swap has failed.
The forum spoke one day that 10 states, through their attorneys general, presented a new process before the Supreme Court to challenge the pronouncement of President Muhammadu Buhari in the broadcast he made last Thursday.
Hardships stemming from ticket shortages became more severe across the country yesterday.
Our correspondents noted that economic activities were largely disrupted, and business owners went out of business.
Travelers were left stranded after the old Naira notes were rejected by carriers, who insisted on collecting new currency.
However, some of those who accepted old bills increased the cost of transportation, which deepened the pain of travelers.
The excitement generated by reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had authorized banks to start accepting old N1000s and N500s last Friday was short-lived due to a circular from the main bank discrediting them.
Many had begun to accept the old notes until the CBN refused to give such an approval.
Regardless of that, Sunday Vanguard noted that some new generation banks were accepting the older, higher denomination notes yesterday in Lagos.
No less than five different banks accepted the coins in what seemed contrary to CBN’s statement on Friday.
Similarly, the bank’s Cash Back Portal directed people with old N500 and N1,000 notes to their banks.
Long queues were seen in front of the banks when customers tried to access the bank rooms.
Some customers were unable to generate reference numbers from the CBN portal.
President Buhari ordered the main bank to recirculate the N200 and N100 notes. But at the time of publication, most ATMs were unable to dispense naira notes.
The president, in a broadcast last Thursday, approved the use of the old N200 notes for 60 days.
However, it 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, led to further attacks by some state governors.
Opposition to the redesign of the naira is led specifically by governors elected on the APC platform.
They had previously taken the matter to the Supreme Court, seeking the arrest of the politician.
Following the high court’s adjournment of the case to February 22, 2023 and Buhari’s approval of the lower denominations, opposition from the governors continued.
In apparent disapproval of the president’s directive, some of the governors urged their people to continue using old notes, insisting that they were still legal tender.
Among those who gave the directive were Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State, Governor of Kano State Abdullahi Ganduje and Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa State.
The move, in addition to putting state governors on a collision course with the Presidency, has also thrown the APC into disarray.
One of the state governors in his rejection of Buhari’s latest action on the policy accused the president of trying to truncate democracy.
Sunday Vanguard learned yesterday that the governors of 10 states had approached the Supreme Court to declare Buhari’s latest directive on naira exchange policy unconstitutional.
The president had directed the CBN to recirculate only the old N200 notes.
This is despite the high court’s decision that the old N200, N500 and N1000 notes are still valid.
The motion, in the complaint marked SC/CV/162/2023, was filed by the attorneys general of Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara, Ondo, Ekiti, Katsina, Ogun, Cross River, Lagos and Sokoto states.
The relief requested by the petitioners read: “An order nullifying the directive contained in the special and presidential media broadcast issued on Thursday, February 16, 2023 by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (the first substantive defendant in this lawsuit ) for being an unconstitutional overstepping and usurpation of the judicial power of this court in a matter that is the subject of this pending lawsuit; and in respect of which there subsists a provisional injunction order binding on all parties, including the president, who is a party through the nominal defendant appointed in person by the 1st defendant as the chief legal officer of the federation.”
The Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, Rotimi Akerodolu, said yesterday that the implementation of the naira swap policy had been regrettable despite claims to the contrary.
His words: “The growing storm of violence that is plaguing the country portends danger for the current democratic governance.
“There is incontrovertible evidence bordering on miscalculation, misjudgment and/or misinformation on the part of policymakers, especially the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, about the failed implementation of the policy, the effect of which forces the entire country to groan, immeasurably, at this moment.
“Hardly anyone confronts the statutory functions of the Central Bank of Nigeria or the occupant of its Governor’s office, one of which is monetary policy.
“Nor is it arguable that the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces are empowered under our law to exercise some executive power.
However, it cannot be the original intention of the drafters of the relevant statutes that the implementation of any policy would cause widespread hardship and widespread agony on the land.
“The safety of people is the supreme law. Any measure, supposedly designed to improve their conditions, must not reduce the entire population to a miserable existence. There is widespread discontent in the land.
“A policy, presented as a currency swap, should not be construed by both the reasonable and the averagely intelligent members of society to convey the deplorable impression of overt artificial subterfuge in the official confiscation of people’s legitimate deposits in banks, as a countermeasure against electoral misconduct, terrorism and banditry.
“As desirable as the policy may seem, its implementation raises curiosity as to the true motive of its proponents, especially at this time when the general election is almost here.
“The suffering of the masses, caused by the non-availability of new banknotes to replace the old ones, also decreed by presidential decree in contravention of the CBN Law of 2007, could have been avoided if the strategy of gradual change and withdrawal had been adopted. system of old banknotes”.
The police, in their statement signed by the Force’s Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, warned those who oppose the redesign of the currency to prevent overheating of politics.
The statement read: “Amid the prevailing protests and reactions to the new naira policy in the country, the Nigerian Police have found it necessary to warn groups and individuals against divisive comments and statements capable of heating up politics and triggering a crisis in the nation. .
“This call is very imperative since the Police perceive the reactions and statements of certain groups and individuals as an attempt to heat up politics and spontaneously incite the population against the government and its policies for their peculiar interests and gains.”