By Abubakar Y Zakariya, Abuja
The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED) has slammed President Muhammadu Buhari and his employee, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, and the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Ahmed Zainab over the introduction of redesigned naira notes.
This is coming on the heels of the declaration by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, that the apex bank did not carry her ministry along in its plan to redesign and roll out new naira notes.
The bank’s spokesman, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, expressed surprise at the minister’s claim, stressing that the CBN remains a very thorough institution that follows due process in its policy actions.
According to him, “The Management of the CBN, in line with provisions of section 2(b), section 18(a), and section 19(a)(b) of the CBN Act 2007, had duly sought and obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari in writing to redesign, produce, release and circulate new series of N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes.”
Reacting to the face off between CBN and ministry of finance, President Muhammadu Buhari has said the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to launch new designs and replace high value Naira notes had his support and he was convinced that the nation will gain a lot by doing so.
The President, according to a release issued on Sunday by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, said, ”People with illicit money buried under the soil will have a challenge with this but workers, businesses with legitimate incomes will face no difficulties at all.”
A statement shared with THE EXPLAINER, signed by the Executive Director, CHRICED, Comrade Dr Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, observe that while the CBN governor and Finance Minister were busy contradicting each other, the country’s currency was falling at alarming rate.
According to him, the ongoing spat between two of the most senior officials, who should be responsible for the health of the economy and, by extension, the livelihood opportunities for the citizens, portray the current government as unconcerned and unprepared to revive the comatose economy it foisted on the people.
He explained that what is even more galling is the fact that as the government’s topmost financial implementers are making claims and counter claims as the Naira continues to take a plunge against the United States Dollar.
” It is so bad that, at the time of this statement, the Naira had depreciated further to N800 to the United States Dollar at the parallel market.
” In places where public officials are held accountable for their performance, the two officials would have since apologised and resigned or be dismissed for failing in their assignment and plunging the country into further economic turmoil.
As for the President’s role, it is inexcusable that President Buhari continues to turn a blind eye while his subordinates publicly quarrel over policy matters that are crucial to the health of the Nigerian economy.
“As a matter of competence, the president would have allowed the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to convene on the critical issue of redesigning the Naira before the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, would go to town and grandstand about it.
Speaking further, Zikirullahi said currently the variable and unpredictable exchange rate is one of the primary factors fueling inflationary pressures, which has impacted the price stability of essential goods and services.
On inflation, he noted that the inflation situation is so dire that many citizens are finding it difficult to survive. According to him, for workers, artisans and other category of ordinary citizens trying to get on with their lives, the amount of inflation has eroded their purchasing power, leaving them at the mercy of the market’s ever-changing fluctuations.
In his word: “Buhari government has done nothing to help citizens face these difficulties. As a matter of fact, Nigerians have been on their own grappling with the devastating effects of the inflation which has pushed many more citizens into poverty.
Consequently, CHRICED believes that if the President is unable to ameliorate the difficult situation Nigerians are facing on a daily basis with the complete erosion of their purchasing capacity, he should not make things worse by superintending over a system where everything goes and there are no consequences.
“While it is true that many Nigerians cannot wait to bid the President farewell as he exits the Presidency on May 29, 2023, President Buhari owes the Nigerian people the responsibility of ensuring that an already difficult situation is not made worse.
“For this to happen, CHRICED believes the President should act as the chief coordinator of policy emanating from government institutions, rather than remaining aloof while top government officials bicker, which is detrimental to the stability of the nation’s currency and, by extension, investor confidence,” the statement said.