*Say each House member needs N70m cash to execute the election
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ado Doguwa has told President Muhammadu Buhari that the Naira redesign policy is against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and making the party unpopular ahead of the forthcoming general elections.
Doguwa, who is the Chairman of the Special Adhoc Committee on Naira Redesign, Cashless Policy, and Naira Swap, raised the alarm on Thursday after he led members of the committee in an audience with the President at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Those present at the meeting with the President were the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, a representative of the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, the Director-General, Department of State Services, Magaji Bichi, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijani Umar and the Economic Adviser to the President, Adedoyin Salami.
The lawmaker said that the committee came to see the President despite the broadcast and his directives to the CBN governor to commend him for that but to also tell him that “It is not yet Uhuru.”
He told Buhari that the Committee will continue to interface with the CBN in the implementation of his directives, adding that the Green Chamber will not hesitate to invoke the instrumentality of the law to call the CBN boss to order if he derails from implementing the directive.
According to him, “One important thing I want to stress is that Mr. President has addressed most of the issues we want to raise with him at the national broadcast this morning. But that notwithstanding, Mr. President allowed us to meet him believing the fact that the committee coming to him represented the institution of the National Assembly.
“And when you have issues to do with policies of the government, you have matters that border in lives and livelihood of our people, the best institution to speak for Nigerians is this institution, the National Assembly and in this case, the House of Representatives.
“What excites us is that when we met Mr. President, he was already on the ground with those agencies that have something to do with this issue of naira redesign and naira swap. The CBN governor was there at his instance, the representative of the Ministry of Finance was there, the AGF was also represented there, and the inspector General of Police was also there.
“We can say to Mr. President that despite his broadcast this morning, even though he has told the CBN to make some amendments, to take some new steps to ameliorate the hardship this policy has already entrenched in our economy which is impacting negatively on the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians, we told Mr. President clearly that it is not yet Uhuru.
“For instance, the Central Bank has been directed to make money available, this new naira notes should be made available. But how do we ensure that Mr. President’s directive is being carried out? That cannot be guaranteed. Thank God that Mr. President addressed us and addressed the CBN governor once again to our face and we used the opportunity to also tell the CBN governor that ‘you must go around to implement the directive of the President as contained in the letters of his speech; not a matter of perception, not a matter of being professional. You can not be more professional than the feelings of the actual players in the marketplace of the economy.
“No matter what policy you want to bring; no matter how good or decent that policy is, as long as it brings about hardship or pressure to the system, then that policy must be deemed to be otherwise. It is on this note that we told Mr. President that we would continue to interface with relevant agencies, especially the CBN governor.
“Of course, while we are discharging our constitutional right to oversight every institution of government, we must ensure that the directive of Mr. President is carried out to the letter, failure to do that must involve every instrumentality of the law, legislative instrumentality, to ensure that Presidential orders are being abided by and ensure that the laws of the land are also being respected.
“I want to acknowledge that in Mr. President’s speech, that he has come on the same page with us as regards the interpretation of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act that states very clearly that if the banknote is redesigned the old currency must be redeemable at time of presentation either at the Central Bank or at the commercial banks.
“This is contained in Mr. President’s speech which otherwise not the CBN governor, he said could be redeemable at the Central Bank. The constitution says that the money must be redeemable at the banks.
“With due respect can our local traders have access to the Central Bank? Certainly, policies are made and when that policies are seen to be quite impracticable and inimical to the development of the economy, those of us in the House of Representatives will blow the whistle.
“We have blown this whistle in the National Assembly and we have come this far to blow this whistle to Mr. President while thanking him for the new steps he has taken to cushion the effects of this unfortunate policy
“Of course, I took special apology to some of our colleagues who are not members of our party, but I as a member of the ruling party told Mr. President that the policy in itself is a policy that is against the ruling party, my party because it’s a government policy, Muhammadu Buhari government, government of the APC.
“And Nigeria’s at time of elections are now looking at my government coming up with an unpopular policy. Unpopular because it does not matter if the policy may be seen to be professionally good. Some of us see a lot of things good about the policy, but our worry as members of the ruling party is why now? 30-40 days to elections you come out with a policy that is not widely accepted by Nigeria and whether we like it or not that will be seen as the program of the government.
“So those of us in the APC are not happy about it and I believe some of my colleagues in other parties would not see this as a good policy. Not good because the time is absolutely wrong
“But I want to state without any fear of contradiction that I share in the perception of Mr. President, in the perception, not the CBN governor that there is a need for us to entrench this policy to be able to address some security problems; there is need for this policy so that Nigeria can be seen to be working on the same page with international economies.
“But why do you want us to be cashless at a time when we are facing a general elections where security apparatus working to protect the election process would require cash to service their logistics?
“Why will you insist on cashless when even INEC has raised a lot of fears that without cash is needed to carry out activities by the electoral commission.”
He further said that the Electoral Act makes provision for the amounts individuals especially those contesting elections are supposed to have to execute elections.
“I need to have N70 million in hard copy, the law has permitted it and as I speak to you, I don’t have it. ATM stations have turned to wrestle grounds.”