Buhari, Bagudu, Tambuwal, Emefiele, and Bawa Convene to Tackle Naira Scarcity

President Buhari Meets with Tambuwal, Bagudu, Emefiele, and Bawa to Address Naira Shortage Concerns.

At the request of President Buhari, the Governor of Sokoto State and NGF Chairman Tambuwal and Kebbi State Governor and PGF Chairman Bagudu joined the meeting at the State House in Abuja, along with CBN Governor Emefiele and EFCC Chairman Bawa. Emefiele assured that the CBN will not participate in any actions that may hinder the upcoming elections.

“Federal Government Criticizes Opposition for Politicizing Naira Redesign, CBN Disburses N1 Billion to Edo State”

Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed condemned the opposition parties for using the naira redesign issue for political gain during a PMB Scorecard Series in Abuja, amidst ongoing struggles with fuel supply disruptions and naira scarcity. Meanwhile, the CBN has provided over N1 billion to Edo State in response to the cash shortage. However, Kano State Governor Ganduje expressed concern that those involved in the annulled June 12, 1993, presidential election are using the current crisis to threaten democracy.

The meeting with President Buhari, attended by Tambuwal, Bagudu, Emefiele, Bawa, Mustapha (Secretary to the Government of the Federation), and Gambari (Chief of Staff to the President), was reported by THISDAY. The purpose of the meeting is unknown, but it could be related to the shortage of cash caused by the naira redesign project ahead of the elections. A separate meeting between Buhari and the Governors of the Nigerian Governors Forum was canceled without explanation.

The canceled meeting with governors took place four days after Buhari met with governors of the APC and asked for seven days to resolve the cash crisis caused by the naira redesign project. There were mixed reactions to the currency swap policy, resulting in a shortage of cash. On Monday, Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara states filed a lawsuit against the federal government to stop the full implementation of the naira redesign policy. The Federal Capital Territory High Court issued a restraining order on Buhari, the CBN Governor, and 27 commercial banks from suspending the demonetization policy.

Emefiele, the CBN Governor, reassured Nigerians that the bank would not be used or seen as a tool to frustrate the upcoming elections. He also confirmed that the CBN would provide the necessary naira notes to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for its personnel and logistics during the elections. Emefiele made this assurance when he hosted a delegation from INEC led by its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in Abuja yesterday.

Emefiele stated that the relationship between the CBN and INEC predates his governorship and is based on trust and confidence. He acknowledged that the CBN has the trust and confidence of INEC and the Nigerian people to ensure smooth elections. In the past, the CBN has been involved in storing and transporting INEC election materials using its armored bullion van. Emefiele confirmed that he previously promised to provide the foreign exchange needed to import the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System and other election materials and that the funds have been provided and the items have been imported. He also guaranteed that the CBN regards the INEC project as a top priority and will not allow itself to be used or seen as a hindrance to a successful election outcome.

Emefiele promised the electoral body that he would not allow the CBN to be seen as an obstacle to the successful outcome of the elections. He confirmed that all necessary foreign exchange had been provided to import the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and other election materials. He added that if INEC required cash for transportation after making electronic payments, he would ensure that it was made available.

INEC Chairman, Yakubu, appreciated the continued support of the CBN in ensuring credible elections. He noted that while electronic transfers are used to pay service providers in accordance with laws and regulations, there are critical areas such as transportation and human support services that require immediate payment. He added that the Commission has a long-standing relationship with the CBN and commercial banks for seamless payment during elections and that it had migrated all its accounts to the CBN. However, he expressed concern about the recent currency policy and cash withdrawal limits and hoped that this meeting would alleviate the anxieties of some service providers. He emphasized that the Commission was determined to make the 2023 general election one of the best organized in Nigeria but could not do it alone.

“The success of the 2023 general election requires the involvement of all critical national institutions,” said Yakubu. He added that the meeting was part of these efforts.

With only 16 days to go, security was a crucial aspect of the 2023 general election, according to Yakubu. He welcomed the assurances from the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, and other security agencies and praised the additional security that had been deployed to their facilities nationwide. Yakubu looked forward to a comprehensive security plan for the election.

Monguno confirmed that all security agencies were ready and equipped to ensure a peaceful election atmosphere. He dismissed any fears caused by negative news and stated that all citizens would be able to exercise their franchise in a secure environment. He emphasized the importance of citizens fulfilling their duty to vote.

The federal government criticized the opposition for politicizing the naira redesign policy. Mohammed slammed the opposition political parties for seeking an injunction against Buhari and the CBN over the February 10 deadline for exchanging old notes for new ones. This came after Buhari met with Progressive Governors and asked for a 7-day window to resolve the currency issue caused by the implementation of the policy.

The Minister stated that the federal government is aware of the difficulties citizens are facing due to fuel shortages and currency scarcity. The government is making efforts to restore normalcy to economic activity and to alleviate the pain of Nigerians. The opposition’s actions in making the situation worse have turned it into a political game. The desperate actions of these parties will not help them politically as voters now see them as the real enemies of the people. Despite the opposition, the government is willing and able to take steps to help Nigerians.

The CBN has disbursed over N1 billion to banks in Edo in three days to ease the hardship faced by bank customers. The Director of Risk Management at CBN, Dr. Blaise Ijebor, urged citizens to use alternative means of transactions and stated that the CBN is making payments regularly and is doing everything in its power to improve the situation. He also encouraged the use of bank apps, ATMs, USSD, and POS.

Governor Ganduje raised an alarm over a plot to disrupt democracy by elements of the annulled June 12, 1992, presidential election who are regrouping and hiding in the crisis caused by the cash scarcity. He claimed they are collaborating with the main opposition party (PDP) and the CBN to deliberately weaken the masses by imposing harsh policies. He expressed concern over the CBN’s insistence on the time frame for the old naira notes to cease to be legal tender, which he said would weaken the masses.

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has given the federal government a seven-day ultimatum, starting from February 7th, 2023, to resolve the ongoing issues of currency unavailability and fuel shortages. In a joint statement, TUC expressed its disappointment over the country’s suffering through these twin crises and stated that the government must provide a solution within a week or TUC will take further action. The African Center for Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR) praised the court order that prevents a shift in the deadline set for the monetary policies and viewed it as a step towards sanitizing the financial markets. Meanwhile, the APC Professional Forum called for a review of the deadline for the old currency to cease to be legal tender, expressing concern about the impact of the currency redesign policy on the citizens. The ethnic youth groups, including Arewa, Ohanaeze, and Oduduwa youths, welcomed the court order, saying it would prevent politicians from having access to cash to compromise elections.

Source: ThisDay Live

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