…Assures on use armoured bullion vans to convey sensitive materials

From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja 

Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, has promised to make cash available to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enhance its operations for the smooth conduct of the forthcoming 2023 general election.

Emefiele made the promise when INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, led his management team of National Commissioners, to his office on a courtesy visit on Tuesday in Abuja. 

Assuring that the apex bank will not frustrate the positive outcome of the general elections, Emefiele reassured the commission of the security of the sensitive materials in its custody, reiterating that it will use armoured bullion vans to safely convey them.

On the cash support, Emefiele said: “It’s not just about cash, you have done electronic payments before and if in this case after making your electronic payments, you require some money to pay transporters in cash, the assurance I give to you is that we will make it available, so there is nothing to worry. I will make sure that I do not feel and we will not allow ourselves as Central Bank to be seen as an agent that frustrated positive outcome of the elections.”

Responding further, Emefiele said: “The relationship between the CBN and INEC dates back to even before I became the Governor and that relationship, I will say border purely on trust and confidence. We appreciate and truly do appreciate the fact that INEC supported by the Nigerian populace has the trust and confidence in the ability of the Central Bank in playing the roles that we have played for you, on or through you to the Nigerian populace to ensure that our elections hold without any hitches and I will be very specific.

“Before now, we have been involved in the storage of INEC election materials and involved in using our armoured Billion Van in transporting electoral materials. We are happy that in the course of this relationship, we have not disappointed you and that is the reason you have called me again this time.

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“Now, just aside from the issue of storage of election materials together with transportation of election materials from CBN locations to your own specific or designated locations, I know that just a few months ago, I visited your office and you raise the issue of how foreign exchange can be procured for you to import BVAS and other forms of election material that need to be imported.

“And I gave you my word that foreign exchange will be provided for that purpose. I stand here to confirm that as at today, all dollar that is needed to import those items have been provided and those items have been imported. 

“So, it’s all part of our commitment. Now this issue of pain and logistics for people who are going to be transporting election materials, certainly, the assurance I want to give to you is that because we regarded INEC project as a topmost or an urgent national assignment, it cannot fail and the Central Bank would not allow itself either to be used or to be seen as an agent that frustrated a positive outcome of that election. So, I sit here to give you that commitment. You have been responsible in the past anyway,” Emefiele noted.

Earlier in his remarks, Yakubu, the electoral umpire boss, while making requests said that; “Nigerian election is a huge and complex undertaking. It requires the engagement of critical services. In line with the provisions of extant laws and regulations, service providers are generally paid by means of electronic transfer to their accounts.

“However, there are equally critical areas such as transportation and human support services that have to be immediately remunerated either partially or in full before services are rendered. In addition, emergency situations may arise requiring immediate cash payments.

“Some of the critical service providers are unbanked. Over the years, we have worked with the CBN and commercial banks to pay for such services seamlessly during general elections as well as off-cycle and bye-elections.

“Over the years, the commission has also migrated all its accounts at National and State levels to the CBN and this arrangement has worked without encumbrances to our activities.

“In view of the recent policy involving the redesign of some denominations of our national currency, and the limits placed on cash withdrawals, we consider this meeting important in addressing some of the areas of concern with just 17 days to the 2023 general election.

“We are confident that arising from this meeting, we can assuage the anxiety expressed by some of our service providers. We are determined to make the 2023 general election one of the best organised elections in Nigeria but we cannot do it alone. That is why the commission is mobilising every critical national institution for the success of the election. This meeting is part of this effort,” he said.