By From Msugh Ityokura (Abuja) and Samson Kukwa-Yanor (Makurdi)
As citizens become agitated over rejection of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 notes ahead of the January 31 deadline, more voices, yesterday, weighed in strongly against the currency redesign swap policy amid calls for extension.
The House of Representatives, yesterday, read a Riot Act to the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and his management team to rescind the January 31 deadline on cash withdrawal limit and cash swap policy.
Chairman, Ad-hoc Committee investigating the policy, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, stated this while briefing members on the inability of the CBN management to attend the investigative hearing.
While noting that the CBN Governor and other Directors are employees of Nigerians, Ado-Doguwa warned that the House will not tolerate any excuses for the absence of the invited public office holders on the rescheduled date, which is today (Thursday) by 1:00p.m.
The lawmaker, who reiterated the need for a review of the policy, which he described as ‘unpopular’, argued that the policy has impacted negatively on businesses and well-being of Nigerians across the country, as well as payment for services, with rejection of old naira notes.
On Monday, the leadership of the House announced that they would meet with the Bankers Committee and management of the apex bank. Speaking on the inability of the CBN executives to appear before it, Ado-Doguwa explained that the communication by the CBN was that the letter of invitation got to the bank late and thereby could not act on it.
According to him, the House will not entertain further excuses, as there is need to address issues around the cashless policy, which has adverse effects on the nation’s economy and Nigerians at large.
The House also rescheduled its meeting with Managing Directors of Commercial Banks for Friday (tomorrow).
Meanwhile the governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, has appealed to the CBN to extend the deadline for the validity of old naira notes.
Ortom said this when the governing council and management of Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University paid him a courtesy visit, yesterday, in Makurdi.
CBN had, on Tuesday, insisted that there was no going back on the stipulated deadline. Expressing his view on the apex bank’s stance, Ortom said since the new notes were not much in circulation, it was not possible for Nigerians, especially rural dwellers, to meet up with the deadline.
He added that most people living in rural areas do not have bank accounts.
“As governor, I am yet to see the new naira notes. This is the reason I will join other Nigerians to look at this critically so that we don’t worsen the condition of our people. I join the National Assembly members to prevail on CBN to extend the deadline of exchange of the old naira notes,” he said.
Also, former governor of Bayelsa State and the senator representing Bayelsa West, Seriake Dickson, said the timing of the currency redesign is wrong. This is as he hoped that the policy would not distract the nation from having successful elections.
Dickson said CBN should have introduced the policy under a new administration. He stated that the consequences of such an action would have been well-managed by another administration as the current one was coming to an end.
The senator spoke at an interaction programme by the Rotary Club of Abuja Maitama in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said: “The timing of the policy to me is a problem no matter how well-intended. I feel this coming at the twilight of an administration of almost eight years is a wrong timing. I think a major fundamental policy such as this should have been left for the next administration to manage the consequences and fine-tune. Let’s hope the citizens are not confused and agitated. Let’s hope it does not distract us from focusing on having fair and peaceful conduct of the national election.”
Source: The Guardian