By Lateef Adegbite
When the trio of g Nasir Elf-Rufai, a former minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during Olusegun Obasanjo’s Administration, and now governor of Kaduna state Bello Matawalle, Zamfara and Yahaya Bello, Kogi, all Progressive Congress, APC, governors, dragged President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to the Supreme Court, they have done atheir homework and knew that the government will fail in its naira redsign policy.
The trio had headed to the apex Court ‘’to void and set asidethe government decision banning the use of the old N500 and N1000 currency Notes as legal tender, on ground that it is inflicting hardships on Nigerians’’. The number of the aggrieved APC governors opposed to the policy who were said to have joined in the suit filed against the government were said to have risen to 16.
. The aggrieved, APC governors may have known that the Katsina state born Nigeria born President and Godwin Emefiele , the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, described as a ‘’glorified government cashier’’ by Senator Ali Ndume, Chairman Senate Committee on the Army, will bungle the naira redesign project.
Recall that the Nigerian President had said that he authorized the CBN, ‘’to design the old N200, N500 and N1000 old bank Notes’’. Going by his initial plan the new redesigned bank Notes should circulate concurrently with the old bank Notes till January 31, 2023, before the old Notes ceases to be legal tender.
Given the pressure from several quarters that the timing and implementation by the CBN, is defective may have informed why he approved the continuous use of the old N200 Note as legal tender till April 10, 2023 along with the new naira Notes but that was how far he could go.
. Many had expected the CBN, to make the newly designed N200, N500 and N1000 bank Notes available in the banks but it failed to do so. This is because the apex bank governor who had sold ‘’the cashless policy’’ dummy to the Nigerian President and who had bought it was pursuing its implementation with vigour.
Indeed, the refusal of the President to see reason with the aggrieved APC, governors to reconsider the suffering of Nigerians and reverse the decision may have fallen on deaf ear as the dual of Emefiele and Abuabkar Malami, minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federal of the Federation AGF,, whom El-Rufai, the Kaduna state governor had accused of having great influence on the Nigerian President could not allow him change his mind.
It was not surprising why the Kaduna state governor and his Countrparts in amfara and Kogi, who could n onger take it, had ordered the residents of their respective states to continue using the old N500 and N100 , Notes , until the issue in Court is resolved. Individuals and government agencies, which were said to have rejected the old Notes , including the banks, would never forget their experience in a hurry in Kauna , Kano , Ogun and Kogi , amongst others.
The aggrieved APC, governors legal team, may have put up a superior argument to the government legal team response that the apex Court may have seen reason with them that it ruled that the old N200, N500 and N1000, should remain as the country’s legal tender until December 31, 2023.
The apex bank may have settled the vexed issue when it passed its Judgment, which brought to have brought relief to Nigerians. In passing the Judgment, the apex Court had said that not ‘’enough notice was given to the public before the old Notes were withdrawn by the CBN’’.
The Supreme Justices may have indicted the and theCBN Authorities when they noted that in withdrawing the old bank Notes, ‘’not enough new Notes were released’’, thus leading to widespread anger and frustration. The situation was so bad as many people were unable ‘’to get cash to pay for goods and services’’.
. The CBN, may have made matters worse as it had failed to sustain the regular supply of the new bank Notes to the 27 banks operating in the country. This may have forced the bank branches to resort to rationing the new bank Notes any time the CBN makes it available to them on the orders of their Headquarters. The rationing of the new Notes ranges between, N100, N2000 to N5000, in the banking hall or N10, 000.00 in their Automated Teller Machine, ATM, depending on the bank.
Many had expected the President to give a matching order to the CBN, governor to implement the Supreme Court order and allow the old N500, and N1000 Notes to be circulation concurrently with the new Notes but that is not to be.
As at press time, Nigerians are still experiencing difficulties accessing cash at the banks and the ATMs and it is not clear what immediate impact the reversal of the harsh monetary decision will have on the trading public as many had already deposited their old Notes at the banks and with the new ones unavailable, forcing many Nigerians to resort to online banking against their wish.
The Supreme Court Justices, may not have found the government disobeying its orders funny as it had ruled that the President’s disobedience of its February 8, 2023, order is a ‘’sign of dictatorship’’ and that the President has’’ breached the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in a way that he issued directives for the redesigning of the old N200, n500 and N1000 by the CBN’’.
Angered that the CBN, is playing with Nigerians, by refusing to obey the Supreme Court ruling by allowing the circulation of the old N500 and N1000 Notes, concurrently with the new Notes, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN and President Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, may have risen up to the occasion as he has called on the Nigerian President ‘’to immediately direct compliance with the terms of the orders made by the apex Court, which is the highest Court in the land in its judgment delivered on March 3, 2023 in respect of the naira redesign policy.
The NBA president had said that ‘’the judiciary must rise to the occasion by delivering justice with such ‘’courage and precision to provide succor to the people’’. The heat on the CBN, appears to have shifted to the Presidency that Garba Shehu, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity had said on Monday, March 13, 2023, that he CBN, has ‘’no basis not to comply with the Supreme Court order on naira redesign’’. Garba stopped short at saying that the CBN governor’s excuse of waiting for directives from the President was a lame man excuse, which Financial analysts had described as a’’ dance of shame’’.
He may have exonerated the President, who has barely 70 days in office to hand over to the next Nigerian President from blames, when he said the President ‘’never told the AGF, Malami, and Emefiele, the CBN, governor ‘’ to disobey Court orders involving the government and other parties’’.
Many believe that Emefiele, the CBN, is ashame to speak out on the matter because he has failed the nation. Already the state governors, appear to have risen up to the challenge to ease the suffering of the people by ordering the bank to dispense the old Notes without waiting for the CBN to do so.
Take for instance, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is seeking re-election on March 18, 2023, to return to office as governor of Lagos state on the Platform of the APC, had said that ‘’Nigerians have no reason to reject the old N500, and N1000 bank Notes , going by the Supreme Court judgment .
Sanwo-Olu, was said to urged ‘’ business owners, , especially retailers, in the state to accept the old N500 and N100 Notes, in line with the Supreme Court Judgment’’, insisting that the currency remains legal tender until December 31, 2023. ‘’it is illegal to reject the old Notes’’, he had said.The governor was said to have also advised all government agencies in the state not to reject payments made with the old currency Notes by the public.
Charles Soludo, a Professor and former governor of CBN, and now governor of Anambra state, was said to have called on the residents of the state’’ to report any bank that rejects the old naira Notes’’. The former CBN, governor had cited ‘’defective timing and implementation of the new naira redesign policy’’ as the two major problems that the apex bank is currently facing. He may have known that Emefiele has boxed himself to a corner and struggling to wriggle out of the mess.
The Anambra state governor may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he revealed that the CBN, governor personally confirmed to him that he has directed the Commercial banks ‘’to dispense the old N500 and N1000 Notes and to receive same as deposits from customers during a phone conversation on night of Sunday, March 12, 2023. The CBN, governor was said to have given the MDBs, the directive to dispense the old N5000 and N1000, Notes at a Bankers Committee meeting that was said to have been held on Sunday March 12, 2023 at the FCT.
This may have informed why he has advised residents of the state to freely accept and transact businesses with the old currency Notes of N200, N500 and N1000 Notes. He was said to have directed MDB, in the state to dispense and accept the old naira Notes from the public, threatening ‘’ to report any bank that violates the directive to dispense the old naira Notes to the CBN’’. He was said to have also made it clear the banks operating in the state that he will not hesitate’’ to shut down the defaulting branch’’.
The Value News was at the UBA , Egbeda branch and spoke with some staff at the Counter who disclosed that the they do have the new bank Note an can not dispense the old N500 and N1000 Notes, because the CBN, has not given them the directive to do so.
The CBN, governor , who may have gotten a directive from the President to issue the directive to the banks to start dispensing the old bank Notes, concurrently with the new Notes . This is evident going by the memo forwarded to the banks by Isa AbduMumin, Acting Director, Communications , on March 13, 2023, titled: Old N200,N500 and N1000 bank Notes remain Legal tender.
The letter reads in parts: in compliance with the established tradition of obedience to Court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law principles that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and by extension , the operations of the CBN, as a regulator, MDBs , operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
In taking the decision, AbdulMumin, the bank Acting Director of Communications had said that the CBN, met with bankers’ Committee and has directed that that he old N200, N500 and N1000 ban Notes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned Notes till December 31, 2023. The banks have no reason not to dispense the old bank Notes as they have gotten the much expected directive from the apex bank to do so.