Wobbly from the day it was conceived, and haphazard in its implementation, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Naira redesign policy over the past few days is snowballing into a national crisis with harsh implications for the economy, social cohesion, and national security. Despite the assurances from the President, the situation has continued to worsen as they look to be no end to the mess in sight. Shockingly, Nigerians appear to be on the receiving side of solidarity from Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the first time and it doesn’t take much to blow the cover of the fake love.
Many Nigerians didn’t see it coming when the apex bank in the last quarter of the penultimate year to an election announced a currency redesign and insisted on a deadline that was almost not feasible, at least, given the shambolic history of policy implementation the country is almost synonymous with.
The policy, when implemented properly was supposed to be an anti-corruption and anti-money laundering drive, amidst efforts to clean up the country’s highly monetised politics and elections. Among its objectives, the policy sought to flush out the billions of hoarded currencies that had led to a shortage of clean banknotes in circulation, neutralise the rising currency counterfeiting, and force many more persons into the formal banking system and towards the achievement of the cashless economy aspiration.
Unstated by the CBN, but articulated by President Muhammadu Buhari, the change, amid a tight deadline just before the elections, was also to maroon the billions of naira known to have been stockpiled by politicians, including governors and other state actors, to influence the elections. Properly executed, the policy would have forced them, kidnappers, terrorists, bandits, other criminals, and hoarders to either move their immense hoards into the banks or be saddled with worthless old notes.
Led by three states; Kogi, Kaduna, and Zamfara, the PGF dragged the federal government to the Supreme Court, praying the Apex Court to compel the CBN to rescind the monetary policy and allow both the old and new naira notes to co-exist. In February 8, the Supreme Court granted an ex parte order, restraining the Federal Government from enforcing the February 10 deadline, until the matter, which has now been adjourned to February 22, is determined by the court.
However, the CBN did not obey the order. The apex bank declared days later that the old naira notes will cease to be legal tender after the expiration of its February 10 deadline, opening a few-days window for people to deposit the old notes in their possession at central bank branches across the country.
What was then surprising was how the Governors of the ruling party all of a sudden became the biggest opposition to the implementation of the policy. In just a few days, they all started demanding that the naira swap deadline be extended beyond the election period. When it seemed like President Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria were not prepared to blink first, three of the Governors in the party rushed down to the Supreme Court to acquire an injunction just to buy time.
When the moves began to show signs of suspicion, these politicians turned back to tell blatant lies that they were fighting for the poor masses who are suffering from the naira swap policy. They started becoming worried that Nigerians would hit the streets and destroy the country. For the first time in their lives, the sufferings of helpless and hapless Nigerians became a source of sleepless nights for them. Their loud, wicked, and hypocritical voices became the most constant tunes being churned out from media houses in the country.
Rather than tell Nigerians the truth, these Governors resorted to telling Nigerians lies about how much they care for them and want to end their plight and pains. However, one will easily recall that non of these Governors have ever gone to media houses to grant interviews or rushed to the Supreme Court to secure funny orders or disregarded the policy of the Federal Government for any of the pressing issues that have ever confronted and have continued to confront Nigerians.
Many Nigerians will easily recall that five years ago, 30,000 naira minimum wage was approved and till date, not many Governors pay it and yet, no Governor or group of Governors have ever gone to the Supreme Court to insist on its implementation. Many Nigerians clearly know Local Governments in the country have been given autonomy by the courts and the constitution, yet, none of these marauding Governors have ever deemed it fit to go to the Supreme Court to enforce that autonomy. Not even the non-payment of salaries and pensions of poor workers in the country has pushed any Governor to the Supreme Court or made them grant countless interviews to call out their colleagues who were defaulting.
Many Nigerians will recall that in 2022, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on strike and shut down the universities in the country for eight months, yet, not one of these greedy and grossly inept Governors said a word.
Presently, Nigeria is experiencing perhaps one of its worst fuel crises in decades yet, no order has been sought by the Governors of the APC to end it or compel the NNPC to release fuel to Nigerians at stipulated costs.
Over six decades after independence, Nigerians are wallowing in darkness as electricity is still a luxury, yet, no Governor has ever shown any form of solidarity with Nigerians. No court orders have been sought to fix the bad roads in the country, end poverty and unemployment, and the galloping inflation that is shaking the foundations of Nigeria. Where then is the ‘fake love’ and solidarity coming from?
Most notably, three years ago, there was COVID-19 lockdown in the country which spanned for months caused many good-spirited donor agencies both in and outside Nigeria to donate generously to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians by providing palliatives, what did these ruthless Governors do with them? they hoarded them! These are the same Governors have now discovered that Nigerians are suffering.
If these Governors were so scared of protests, one would wonder, where they went, when #EndSars happened and why there was no court order to compel the Federal Government to end it.
The Federal Government of Nigeria is notorious for flouting court orders and disappointing notoriety that had been flagrantly backed by the APC. There are quite a number of occasions where the Federal Government disobeyed court orders, citing some of its policies targeting the wellbeing of the people and there was never an occasion where APC Governors and the party’s bigwigs deemed it fit to challenge the President. Presently, there are subsisting court orders to release the leader of the Indigenous people of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) El-Zakzaky but it hasn’t been obeyed and no one is raising any dust about it.
The truth that many Nigerians already know is that the desperate moves by the APC to stop the implementation of the naira redesign policy are motivated by the fact that the party is planning to influence the result of the elections with money. These Governors have stored huge amounts of cash outside the banks ahead of the election.
A chieftain of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Buba Galadima came out to allege that a certain APC Governor in the Northwest has as much as 22 billion naira stockpiled at home for the election. That huge cash, which will be rendered useless following the implementation of the currency redesign policy – and the consequential outcome – defeat at the election and this is exactly why the APC Governors are clutching to straws which in this case is to hypocritically stand with Nigerians for the first time since independence.
It will be foolish for Nigerians to believe that these greedy politicians are fighting for them like they want to make them believe. They are not, rather, they are only fighting to retain the Billions of Naira that they have buried somewhere. Rather than use these monies to better the lives of the same Nigerians they claim to be fighting for, they have chosen to hide it in sewage pits, since they can’t hide it in banks without attracting attention to it from the regulators. Nigerians must beware of these new found lovers of the masses and champions of the rule of law. They are wicked, vicious, and desperately corrupt and should never for any reason be given the benefit of doubt.