By Our Reporters
The tail end of President Muhammadu Buhari, appears to have thrown Nigeria, the most populous country in the African continent into crisis due to an excusable policy that could not pay, forcing the governors to declare a legal battle with the Federal government.
The source of disagreement between the Katsina state born Nigerian President and the governors remains the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of the Delta state born Banker, Godwin Emefiele naira redesign and cash withdrawal restrictions policy, which the governors had been described as a ‘’currency confiscation programme’’ as the liquidity provided to the general public was grossly insufficient due to the restrictions placed on the amount that can be withdrawn regardless of the amount deposited.
The consequence of the CBN action, according the Leadership of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, was’’ the emergence of the naira black market, severe food inflation, and variable commodities prices based on the method of exchange, and long queues as well as crowds around the Automated Teller Machines, ATMs, and banking halls across the country’’.
The governors fear that’’ the damage that has been done to the economy’’ with the implementation of the new monetary policy by the CBN, at the instance of the Katsina state born Nigerian President will be ‘’too great to fix by the next Administration’’ expected to be inaugurated on May 29, 2023.
Initially , the Nigerian President and the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, Leadership, have had at the back of their mind that the opposition that the Nigerian President was getting for approving the cashless policy was from the governors elected on the party platform.
This is evident as Senator Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa state and National Chairman of the party, was said to have held an emergency meeting with the governors to get them to support the policy . He was not happy the APC governors are the one trying to truncate the implementation of the government new monetary policy.
Hear him: I thought the best thing to do if there is any friction is to get all those who are holding forth in their respective positions and who were elected on the platform of the APC to get together and how some interaction so that they can have a better understanding of what the situation we are in. He got it wrong as the matter appear to have gone beyond the APC, governors. This is because as the 36 states governors of the Federation, irrespective of party affiliation are now involved in the legal battle with the FG over the cashless policy.
Aminu Waziri ambuwal, Director General, Atiku Abubakar,/Senator Ifanyi Okowa, Campaign Organisation, and governor of Sokoto state, who incidentally is the Chairman of the Nigeria’s Governors Forum, NGF, may have sent a message to Buhari that the legal battle has just started which may outlive his Administration which will elapse on May 29, 2023.for the next President to be sworn in.
Informed sources told The Value News, that the governors rose from a recent meeting agreeing to direct the Commissioners of Justice and Attorney General of their respective states to review the suit filed at the Supreme Court by the governor of Kaduna state and more than 10 others, with a view ‘’to consolidating the legal reliefs pursued by the states’’.
Abubakar Malami, minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, whom El-Rufai, a former minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration and now nowthe governor of Kaduna state had accused , alongside other Federal officials, as those misleading the President may have known that the game is up going by his recent submission to the governors. He was said to have told the aggrieved governors, that the FG, will’’ comply with the ruling of the apex Court which had called for ‘’the halting of CBN’s plan to end the use of the old N200, N500 and N1000, bank Notes as legal tender. But Tambuwal, the NGF, Chairman, had said that they are yet ‘’to observe changes in the financial system’’.
The Nigerian President may have had at the back of his mind that by owning up that he directed the CBN governor, that the N200 Note be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the newly designed N200, N500 and N1000 Notes, for 60 days , from February 10, 2023 to April 10, 2023, when it ceases to be legal tender, it will force the governors to sheath their sword but failed to do so.
Recall that he had the CBN Authorities ‘’to deploy all legitimate measures to ensure that Nigerians are adequately educated on the new monetary policy , enjoy easy access to cash withdrawal through availability of appropriate amount of currency and ability to make deposits, but that was how far he could go. The governors had stuck to their origina position: The FG, must obey the Supreme Court ruling of Wednesday, March 8, 2023, halting phasing out the old Notes as legal tender.
Take for instance in the north central state of Kaduna, El-Rufai, a former minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during Obasanjo’s Administration and now the state governor and his Counterparts in Zamfara and Kano, including Jigawa, had directed their ministries, departments and agencies , MDAs, to ensure their revenue collection agents will continue to accept payments made all denominations of the old and new naira Notes.
The trio were said to have also directed Corporate Organistaions, trading public not to reject the old Notes and threatened to sanction the money deposit banks rejecting the old Notes by revoking their land allocation in their respective states.
Appearing on Channels Television recently, Oby Ezwkwesili, a former minister of Education , during Obasanjo’s Administration as well , had criticised the CBN, cashless policy , noting that ran than focus on such fiscal and monetary policy that had thrown the country into severe economic crisis, the government is only using the apex bank ‘’to target some political criminals it knows’’.
The economic expert and former world Bank top official, may have hit hard on Emefiele, the CBN, governor and other Federal officials who are the architect of the cashless policy when she noted that ‘’gong cashless is more about encouraging the use of less cash ,than doing away with bank Notes altogether’’.
She averred that her ‘’framework of Leadership is based on character, competence and capacity’’, but lamented the serial failure of the current CBN, governor to interrogate policies on the basis of the evidence on the table , such that ‘’data helps drive decisions more than impulse’’. She may have alluded o the fact that the outgoing President Buhari and even casting votes to either Tinubu , candidate of the APC or Atiku, fag bearer of the PDP, will worsen matter because ‘’they don’t check the box’’.
Mathew Kukah, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, had said that Nigerians, both rich and poor, experiencing difficulty with the CBN , implementation of the new monetary because in the 62 –year history of Nigeria, , spanning democratic and military governments, no President or military Head of State had come prepared for the job.
The Clergyman had said that the only way ‘’a government will achieve results is if it comes through with seminars and conferences that will produce an aggregate of answers and possible suggestions alongside a data base of potential appointees with the required capacity’’.
Atiku, who had thrown his weight behind the CBN cashless policy may have realised that it is baggage on the neck of the Buhari le APC, government, that he has dissociated from it, stating that now, that the policy is hurting the masses to win people’s vote in next Saturday, February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The PDP, Presidential Candidate may have allied with the aggrieved governors call on the CBN governor, to allow the Commercial banks to accept deposits of the old naira Notes that is at variance with his earlier position on the subject matter. Nigerians are waiting to see how the rivalry between Buhari and the the APC, governors, who are in the strongest opposition to the cashless policy will end.