• doubts banks commitment to success of policy …May crack down on saboteurs ……As Governors appeal for new and old currency co-operate……say CBN printed only N300bn, mopped over N2trn
  • From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to Nigerians to give him seven days to address the cash shortage, which has spread throughout the nation as a result of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to replace high denomination Naira notes with new ones.

Speaking to the Progressive Governors Forum who came to the Presidential Villa to seek solutions to the cash crunch which they said was threatening the good records of the administration in transforming the economy.

According to a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, while reiterating that the currency redesign will help the economy and have long-term advantages, Buhari expressed skepticism about the commitment of banks in particular to the success of the initiative.

“Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves”, he said, “even if a year is added, problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away.”

The President said he had seen television reports about cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people and gave assurances that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension will be used to crackdown on whatever stood in the way of successful implementation.

“I will revert to the CBN and the Minting Company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” the President assured.

The statement quoted the governors as saying that, while they agreed that his decision on the renewal of currency was good and they are fully in support, its execution had been botched and their constituents were becoming increasingly upset.

They said that, as leaders of the government and party in their different states, they were becoming anxious about a slump in the economy and the series of elections that are coming. They requested the President to use his powers to direct the concurrent flourish of the new and old notes till the end of the year. 

The President said when he considered giving the approval to the policy, he demanded an undertaking from the CBN that no new notes will be printed in a foreign country and they in turn gave him assurances that there was enough capacity, manpower and equipment to print the currency for local needs. He said he needed to go back to find out what was actually happening.

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President Buhari told the Governors that, being closer to the people, he had heard their cries and will act in a way that there will be a solution.

Speaking with some journalists  in Hausa language, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, of Kaduna State, said they appealed to President Buhari to allow both the old and new naira notes to co-operate to ease the suffering of Nigerians.

Rufai, said that while the CBN, mopped up over N2 trillion of the old note it printed only N300 billion, which is not enough.

El-Rufai who was accompanied by his Kano State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, said even if the CBN had wanted to implement the cashless policy, they should have printed at least half of what they mopped up, which is N1 trillion. 

He said they told the president that the masses are suffering and traders are losing their goods due to lack of patronage. He gave example of tomatoes sellers that travelled to Lagos with their goods but all got wasted because people have no money to buy.

So they appealed to the president to reconsider his stances. 

Asked if the meeting was about currency swap and if he has agreed to shift the deadline, Ganduje said: “Our request is for the deadline to be shifted. Not only shifted, but the old currency should go along with the new currency until old currency dies a natural death which is possible.

“He said he will look into that.”

Asked if if petrol scarcity was mentioned as well, he said “Yes, he mentioned that. But he said he will look into it.”