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New Naira Notes: Buhari, APC Governors Disagree on Deadline

The governors demanded a postponement of the February 10 deadline for currency swap but the President asked for 7 days to resolve the cash crunch.

Eleven governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday at the State House, Abuja, over the lingering cash crunch in the country following the Naira redesign, and demanded for the concurrent use of the new and old notes till the end of this year.
At the meeting, which was also attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, President Buhari rejected the demand of the governors and urged Nigerians to give him a seven-day grace to resolve the cash crunch.
Many Nigerians are finding it difficult to obtain the new Naira notes, resulting in protests in parts of the country like Benin, Ibadan and Warri.
The governors sought to share with Buhari the negative impact of the Central Bank’s policy, which they said had been undermining the painstaking efforts that had been put forth by this administration in transforming the economy.
But the President said the objective of the policy was not to create hardship but to provide the economy with much needed revitalisation and the benefits will be borne in the medium to long term.

Unfortunately, Buhari said, “inefficiencies and underhanded practices being carried out on the part of our banks as the primary distribution medium, have destabilised the smooth and successful execution of the policy.
“Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves. An extension of the time frame within which to complete this process will be made insignificant for as long as greed and selfishness continue to guide our actions.”
The President said he had received and seen televised reports about cash shortages and undue hardships that local businesses and the citizens are being subjected to and gave assurances that the balance of the seven of the 10-day extension will be used to rectify whatever issues that pose a threat to successful implementation.
While continuing to monitor the situation, the President assured that he would be meeting with both the CBN and the Security and Minting Company and a decision would be taken based on current realities in the best interest of the people.

The President stated that when considering the policy, prior to its initial approval, he demanded an undertaking from the CBN that no new notes would be printed outside the country, and he received firm assurances that there was enough capacity, manpower and equipment for the domestic execution of this exercise.
However, the president said he would interrogate these assurances as part of his engagement with the responsible agencies of government.
Finally, he thanked the governors for bringing the cries of the people to him, given their proximity to them and assured that there would be a solution to the problem.
Earlier, the governors, led by Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, while briefing the President, reiterated their position which is in full support of the policy decision to redesign the currency, and were convinced about the intent behind its thinking, but shared their concern regarding the current fallout which has a debilitating impact on their constituencies.
They told the President that as leaders within the party and the government in their various states, they were becoming anxious regarding the economic impact and the potential erosion to the democratic process, particularly the upcoming general elections.
They, therefore, requested that the President directs an adequate injection of the new notes and the continued utilisation of the old ones until the end of the year.

Speaking with newsmen after the APC governors’ session with the President, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State disclosed that they urged Buhari to allow both the old and new naira notes to co-exist to ease the suffering of Nigerians while also postponing the February 10 deadline to complete the currency swap.
The governor, who spoke with some reporters in Hausa, said while the CBN mopped up over N2 trillion of the old notes, it printed only N300 billion which was not enough to cater for citizens’ needs.
El-Rufai, who was in the company of his Kano State counterpart, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje, said the apex bank should have printed at least half of what they mopped up, which is N1 trillion if it had wanted to implement the cashless policy.
According to him, the governors told the president that the masses were suffering and traders were losing their goods due to lack of patronage, citing the case of tomato sellers that travelled to Lagos with their goods but all got wasted because people have no money to buy.
El-Rufai, who said the governors appealed to the president to reconsider his earlier stance, however, said he did not tell them yes or no.
He added that Bagudu went back to meet the President privately with the hope of convincing him.
On the notion that he criticized the President because he wanted to become “a godfather”, the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said: “I don’t criticize President Buhari. I have never criticized President Buhari, it’s only those working with him who are telling him lies, they don’t tell him the truth, and they don’t tell him what the people are going through on these policies or decisions that are taken.
“What President Buhari brought, we support it. We know the reason he wants to do something, but they are not doing it right and they don’t tell him the right thing. We, the true followers of Buhari are not using him to get money for shopping, we are mandated to tell him the truth, and that’s what we’ve done.
“President Buhari himself knows me, he knows how we have been together, all these allegations I’m used to hearing them. Which godfather am I looking for? Tinubu is our Presidential candidate, we want him to win the election.