By Adamu Abuh, Abuja
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has dismissed perceptions that the apex bank’s redesign of naira notes and withdrawal limits were politically motivated.
Emefiele (represented by Deputy Governor Aishah Ahmad) noted this when he appeared before members of the House of Representatives, yesterday.
He maintained that the decisions were taken based on verifiable data and research conducted by various monetary and fiscal departments of the apex bank, stressing there is no way CBN would take sides with any political party, in view of its independent status as apex financial institution in the country.
The governor spoke in response to a question by Mr. Chinedu Obidigwe (Anambra: APGA), who claimed the newly introduced policy is aimed at preparing grounds for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to emasculate opposition political parties.
Obidigwe’s position, however, did not sit well with majority of House members, including Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who are of the APC.
The CBN governor declined response to further queries by Sada Soli (Katsina: APC), Mark Gbillah (Benue: LP) and Ibrahim Obanikoro (Lagos: APC), who persistently asked to know the amount of money spent in printing the redesigned naira notes.
Obanikoro, who faulted CBN’s policy, saying it could lead to job losses and discourage his constituents from lodging money with banks, maintained that Emefiele could not feign ignorance of the amount spent in printing the notes, as the subject must have been discussed and budgeted at management meetings.
But Ahmad said she was not in a position to share the figure involved in implementation of the policy with the lawmakers, as at the time of the inquiries.
Gbajabiamila, however, waded in, prevailing on lawmakers dissatisfied with the response to give Emefiele another opportunity, at an appointed date, to give account on expenditures.
Ahmad, who spoke on benefits derivable from the monetary policy, said CBN had already ordered the printing of 500 million pieces of the redesigned notes.
Noting that the cashless policy would remain indefinitely, nationwide, she explained that the apex bank is already liaising with National Orientation Agency (NOA), traditional leaders, religious institutions, market associations and other critical stakeholders on measures to curtail counterfeiting of the new notes.
Ahmad said the policy is expected to create new jobs in the ICT sector, contrary to insinuations that it would lead to job loss.
She said operators of Point on Sales (POS) would not be affected by the policy, adding that CBN is aware that the POS had created a means of livelihood for millions of Nigerians.
Meanwhile, Gbajabiamila upbraided the leadership of the apex bank over refusal to render account of its policies to the National Assembly in breach of the law.
The Speaker, who questioned the decision to set limit on withdrawal of the old naira, said controversy surrounding the redesign and transaction limit would have been averted had CBN consulted the National Assembly before now.
IN a related development, a pro-democracy group, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders in Nigeria (CACLN), yesterday, held a demonstration at the Presidential Villa, demanding immediate sack of Emefiele over “fraud, diversion of government funds, and perpetration of unwholesome practices in forex management in the country.”
The convener, Dauda Yakubu, who spoke with journalists, said Emefiele has not only desecrated the revered apex bank but also made the country a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
He said: “His (Emefiele’s) penchant for voodoo economics is legendary. The policy summersaults and inconsistencies in fiscal policies have hurt the country’s economy in unimaginable ways. This is indeed sad, and we wish to put on record that Godwin Emefiele is not fit to continue in office as governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“It remains a mystery how the governor of the sensitive central bank of a country would engage in partisan politics by vying for the position of president.
“A situation where the governor would be neck dip in forex round tripping is most dishonourable and defeats all known ethics in the sector. This indicates that Emefiele must have been availing sensitive government information concerning monetary and fiscal policies to patrons and benefactors over the years.
“We know that the CBN governor introduced the naira redesign as a medium to cover up for some of the anomalies he perpetrated in office. Several billions of naira was expended to change the colour of some naira denominations.