From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Kano State Governor, Umar Ganduje, yesterday made a U-turn and declared that the state was ready to host President Muhammadu Buhari, 24 hours after advising him against going ahead with his scheduled visit to the state today.
The governor informed reporters of the change in stance after leading a group of stakeholders from the state to meet with President Buhari in his country house in Daura, Katsina State.
Ganduje while responding to how prepared the state was ahead of the visit: “We are very much ready to receive him and we have a lot for him to commission including federal government projects and state government projects. They are state-of-the-art projects.”
The governor had in an interactive session with stakeholders, including academics, lawmakers, political leaders, and members of the state’s business community, revealed that his government had asked the president to cancel the trip because of the hardship brought on citizens, largely due to the ongoing cash swap from old to new notes.
He explained that the decision was taken to avoid any unforeseen circumstances.
The statement on the subject by the governor’s spokesman Abba Anwar read in parts: “Deeply concerned with the hardship caused by limited time given for halting use of old Naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and for security reasons, the Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, reveals that the state resolved and wrote to Presidency that, the visit of the President to commission some projects be postponed.
“As we are waiting for this important visit, we found ourselves in this situation, which puts citizens into untold hardship. For security purpose we wrote to Presidency that President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Kano be postponed.
“We got an acknowledgement copy of the letter. People are really suffering because of this policy.
“There are no banks in most of our rural communities. How these people get new Naira notes is of great concern.
Just look at what is happening in our urban areas, people go and spend hours upon hours in banks. And without any assurances of getting the new notes.”
Despite Ganduje’s objection, President Buhari had, however, insisted on going ahead with the visit.
Presidency sources said Buhari would visit Kano to commission projects executed by the Federal Government.
But during yesterday’s visit to the President, Ganduje said he led the delegation to Daura over the issue of the currency swap and that he was happy with Buhari on his response.
He said: “Seeing is believing. You can see that I have led a powerful delegation from Kano State on the issue of new naira notes and we have seen Mr. President. We have laid the complaints of the Kano people and we are very happy.
“He explained to us and also he assured us that the time is extended and the quantity of new naira notes will be increased so that the sufferings of the people will be reduced.
“We informed him that Kano is the most populous state in the federation and also the commercial nerve center of the northern part of Nigeria, second to Lagos.
“But in terms of cash transaction, Kano is much higher than Lagos because Lagos has gone far in terms of cashless society, cashless transaction. But Kano State being comparatively a rural state, so to say, still we have 24 local governments without banks. Most of the banks are concentrated within Kano metropolitan.
“So, you can imagine the suffering of the rural areas, rural people in terms of cash transaction. But we are happy that the time has been extended and also the quantum of the naira notes will be increased. So, we are so grateful to the President for effort.”