Governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have rejected the February 10 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to end the legal tender status of the old N1000, N500 and N200 notes
Credible sources close to the governors said they were worried Nigerians have been finding it difficult to live a normal life in the last few days and therefore resolved to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the matter.
The sources said the APC governors would tell the president most likely at 10am today that beyond whatever gains that would come with the naira swap, the wrong timing by the CBN is already hurting the economy, the wellbeing of the citizens and the security of the country.
Out of the 36 state governors in Nigeria, 21 of them are members of the ruling APC.
Before reaching the decision to meet the president, the governors had reportedly nominated Governors Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Mai Mala Buni (Yobe) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), who had met with CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele between January 30 and 31. During the meeting, they reportedly expressed their displeasure over the “hasty nature”, the cashless policy transition was being managed.
They also told Emefiele that while the old naira notes were being mopped up, it was evident the CBN could not make the new notes available to commercial banks as Nigerians struggle to access the money they legally deposited in commercial banks.
The governors were also said to have told Emefiele that it was evident the commercial banks did not have the needed technology to absolve the shock of increasing pressure of customers as evident in failed transactions using various internet platforms.
One of our sources said the governors told Emefiele to extend the transition period to between six months and one year so as to have a realistic cashless society.
“But Emefiele told them that there was actually no ill-feeling while taking the decision to change the naira notes; and that it was not his unilateral decision. He told them the president has to be in the picture,” the source said.
According to him, “All the APC governors are not happy because in the first instance, they were not consulted on the new naira policy and the timing and they felt that as a federating unit, states must be consulted before such a sensitive decision is taken.
“They told Emefiele that the anticipated gains of the policy have been deflated because Nigerians are angry; their economy is grounded and many of them have to pay money to access their monies.
“They told Emefiele that the approach is not in line with international best practices because the infrastructure that will support cashless policy is weak. There is no single state in the North for instance that all its LGAs have banks. There are similar challenges in some states in the South and that it is the informal sector that drives the economy and therefore, Nigerians require more time, knowledge and support to transit to a cashless society,” he said.
He said the four governors had briefed their colleagues and they collectively agreed to seek audience with President Buhari saying the meeting will take place any moment from now.
‘Military operations suffer as troops in bushes cash-strapped’
Another source said military operations in some hard-to-reach areas in parts of the country have been affected.
“You know that military operations, some of them being jointly executed with the police and civil defence are going in parts of the country.
“The commanders hold cash for some logistics operations and this is increasingly becoming difficult,” he said.
“Even though the troops receive their salaries through their bank accounts, they get their duty allowances in cash. Also, their commanders use cash to buy foodstuff and condiments the troops use to feed them and buy basic needs, especially in difficult terrains. This is seriously affecting their morale,” he said.
A unit commander in the Lake Chad region said the absence of the new naira notes is affecting them.
“There is no single bank in all the LGAs in northern Borno and even the GSM services are erratic, you cannot transfer money. Since the beginning of the operation against Boko Haram, most of the field logistics from both our high command and support from state governments are settled with cash. Some of these things are moving smoothly, there is the need for more time,” he said.
A civil defence official working around Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State concurred, saying their activities have been affected.
“We are conducting joint operations with the military and the police and our logistic support is by cash, the new naira notes are not there and even if they make a transfer to you, there are no banks here and PoS operatives have closed shop. This is a serious challenge,” he said.
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