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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Naira scarcity: Buhari indicts Bank CEO

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President Muhammadu Buhari has indicted some banks’ Chief Executive Officers, and CEOs on the scarcity of the naira notes in circulation, accusing them of selfishness and inefficiency, saying that they have not done well in circulating the new notes.
The President also urged Nigerians to give him seven days to resolve the cash crunch that has become a problem across the country from the policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria to change high-value Naira notes with new ones.
The President spoke to All Progressive Party governors who met him at the Presidential Villa to seek a review of government policy on the Naira, arguing that a review would ensure solutions to the cash crunch which they said was threatening the good records of the administration in transforming the economy.
President Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu said the currency re-design will give a boost to the economy and provide long-term benefits while expressing doubts about the commitment of banks in particular to the success of the policy.
The statement quoted the President as saying, “Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves. Even if a year is added, problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away.”
The President said he had noted reports about cash shortages and hardship on local businesses and ordinary people and gave assurances that the remaining seven of the 10-day extension will be used to crack down on whatever stood in the way of successful implementation.
“I will revert to the CBN and the Minting Company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” the President assured.
The Governors told the President that, while they agreed that his decision on the renewal of currency was good and they were fully in support, its execution had been botched and their constituents were becoming increasingly upset.
They told the President that, as leaders of the government and party in their different states, they were becoming anxious about a slump in the economy and the series of elections that are coming.
They requested the President to use his powers to direct the concurrent use of the new and old notes till the end of the year.
The President said when he considered giving approval to the policy, he demanded an undertaking from the CBN that no new notes will be printed in a foreign country and they in turn gave him assurances that there was enough capacity, manpower and equipment to print the currency for local needs.
He said he needed to go back to find out what was actually happening.
President Buhari told the Governors that, being closer to the people, he had heard their cries and will take an appropriate decision.
An unconfirmed report has it that some bank CEOs had taken a huge amount of the new naira notes from some politicians.
It was gathered that the APC Governors had expected to get a direct response from the President when they demanded that the old and new naira notes be made to circulate concurrently to ease the suffering of Nigerians. The President, we gathered, did not respond to that.
Briefing some journalists in the Hausa language, after the meeting, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, of Kaduna State, alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, mopped up over N2 trillion of the old note but printed only N300 billion, which he said was not enough and has contributed to the hardship the masses are facing.
El-Rufai, flanked by his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, said even if the CBN had wanted to implement the cashless policy, they should have printed at least half of what they mopped up, which is N1 trillion.
The governor said the APC governors had informed President Buhari that the masses were suffering and traders were losing their goods due to lack of patronage.
He said some tomato sellers travelled from the north to Lagos with their goods could not sell because of naira scarcity and their goods were wasted.
He said, “We the governors of the All Progressives Congress under the aegis of Progressive Governors Forum have met with the President and informed him about the issue that is bothering us and the problems the people are going through because of the currency redesign policy.
“The President explained to us what they have told him and we have seen that the Central Bank Governor (CBN) and the Minting and Printing did not tell Mr President the truth about the things that are happening in the country.
“What’s the truth? First, we are told that they have mopped up over N2 trillion of the old notes and printed only N300 billion of the new notes. Why will you retrieve such an amount of money and then print only N300 billion? That is why there are problems, the money is not enough.
“If you also look at some state and local governments that don’t have banks and the problems they are facing from POS, then you will understand. People didn’t have money to buy things in the market, they can’t go shopping, tomato sellers took their products to Lagos and could not sell till the tomatoes spoiled.
“We have narrated all these issues to Mr President and he said he will meet with CBN, other stakeholders, and even the deposit money banks. He will see what they will tell him before he takes a decision. But he didn’t indicate to us that this issue has ended, and he did not tell us whether there will be another extension or not.
“He only told us that he will take further decisions when he is certain about what is going on. We have told him about things that are happening in our states and the trouble people are encountering.
“Our fear is that, if there is no solution to this, it may cause a crisis and affect the general elections and the election may not even hold completely. The President said he will look into it.”
Asked what precisely the APC governors wanted the president to do, he said, “what we the governors want is to give an extension on this policy so that everyone can exchange his money. Because of N300 billion, there is no how it will be equal to N2 trillion. N1 trillion should be printed not N300 billion. The money is not enough that is the problem.
“Our advice is that both the old and new notes should be used until the old notes are gradually phased out. They should print new notes that will be enough, for now, they are not enough for circulation. Those who say the printed new notes are enough are telling lies to the President.”
el-Rufai said the president did not tell them yes or no on the issue of new and old notes being in circulation, adding that the chairman of Progressive Governors Forum, and governor of Kebbi state, Atiku Bagudu, had gone back to meet the President privately with the hope to convince him.
However, the Kebbi state governor did not brief members of the State House Press Corps that had waited for him on the outcome of his meeting with the President.

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