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Naira Scarcity: el-Rufai, APC Governors Dare Buhari



By Eric Elezuo

With the presidential election just a few days away, it appears that these are not the best times for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). The party has been enmeshed in one internal crisis after another and cohesion seems to be a far flung option. The ruling party’s myriads of crisis and suspicion against one another resurrected and took a different turn with the designing policy of the naira notes, which affected the higher denominations of 1000, 500 and 200 naira notes.

On October 26, 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced the introduction of redesigned 200, 500 and 1,000 naira notes into the country’s financial system. However, since the notes were unveiled, Nigerians across different parts of the country have been struggling to access them from banks and ATM cash points, prompting the question as to what happened to the new naira notes, and who is hiding them. The scarcity has led to series of frustrations and uprisings including protests in different parts of the country with bank facilities vandalised and lives lost.

The frustration caused by the scarcity of the new notes, which also worsened trade and business transactions, made the CBN to extend the deadline for the phasing out of the old notes from the original January 31 deadline to a new February 10. The measure did not in any way help the situation with blames and counter blames continue to trail the polity as many Nigerians working in both the formal and informal sectors of the economy have been scrambling for the new currency, but all to no avail.

In what looked like respite to some politicians, the Supreme Court gave an interim order for the continued use of all the old notes until it finally rules on a lawsuit brought by three northern states of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara challenging the new currency redesign. Though nine other states have so far joined in the suit. In its sitting, the Supreme Court did not reverse that order, but adjourned the suit to 22 February, with a clear indication of maintenance of status quo.

It would be recalled that the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, had accused Buhari for causing the fuel and naira scarcity so that his presidential ambition could flop. He alleged at a rally in Abeokuta that he (Tinubu) was the target of all the policies being churned out as well as the fuel crisis that has lingered for close to six months.

However, despite acknowledging the Supreme Court interim ruling in a broadcast President Muhammadu Buhari made, he insisted that the old notes ceased to be a legal tender in what many called frontal attack against the Supreme Court. Though the president said he consulted widely before arriving at his decision, lots of condemnation followed majorly from his party men with Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai leading the pack.

“As an administration that respects the rule of law, I have also noted that the subject matter is before the courts of our land and some pronouncements have been made, I similarly consulted widely with representatives of the State Governors as well as the Council of State,” the president had said in defence.

“To further ease the supply pressures, particularly to our citizens, I have given approval to the CBN that the old N200 bank notes be released back into circulation and that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023, to April 10, 2023, when the old N200 notes cease to be legal tender,” the president added.

Barely 24 hours after Buhari’s broadcast, the governor of Kaduna State, who also ascribe to himself the status of founding member of the ruling APC, in a statewide broadcast, said that all old naira notes will remain in use the state until and unless the Supreme Court declares otherwise in total defiance of the order made by President Muhammadu Buhari in a nationwide broadcast.

In el-Rufai’s broadcast to the people of Kaduna state, the governor said, “for the avoidance of doubt, all the old and new notes shall remain in use as legal tender in Kaduna State until the Supreme Court of Nigeria decides otherwise.”

According to him, “it is bad economics to so curtail economic activity and the velocity of circulation of money. It is also insensitive to deliberately cause cash shortage and then seek to instigate the public against the mostly innocent commercial banks. Even the most honest and prudent action by banks cannot magically make N400bn to look like N2.1 trillion.”

The governor said “the Kaduna State Government and its agencies shall seal any facility that refuses to accept the old notes as legal tender and prosecute the owners. If need be, we shall take further consequential actions according to the law.”

In his broadcast titled “let us stand up strongly for democracy, peace and national unity”, the governor appealed to all residents of Kaduna State to continue to use the old and new notes side by side without any fear.

El-Rufai said “we have been officially informed that the currency redesign policy is to reduce money laundering and render useless stashes of high denomination Naira that many politicians and public officers have accumulated through corruption and other illicit activities.

“We had privately expressed concerns about the timing of the currency design policy and the unrealistic timeline for its implementation. We were assured that all steps have been taken to ensure that we avoid the recent experience of India, where implementation of a similar demonetisation policy targeted at politicians ended up hurting the poorest and small businesses the most.

“In official briefings to the President, the Central Bank of Nigeria constantly alluded to the fact that the policy also targets politicians who have accumulated a huge war chest for vote buying during the elections. It is now clear that the President has been deceived by the Central Bank of Nigeria and some elements in his government into buying into this overarching narrative, in the name of ensuring free and fair elections in 2023.

“It is important for the people of Kaduna State, and indeed Nigeria, to know that contrary to the public pronouncements and apparent good intentions, this policy was conceived and sold to the President by officials who completely lost out in the Gubernatorial and Presidential Primaries of the APC in June 2022.”

In the same vein, the Chairman of the APC, rising from a meeting with some governors elected on the party’s platform and the presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, threw their weight behind el-Rufai and the Supreme Court, asking Buhari to reverse his orders.

Addressing the press after the meeting, which about seven governors, including Kano Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, boycotted, Adamu said; “I am sure you are quite aware of the fact that a meeting comprising of APC governors was held today and the leadership of the NWC of our great party was summoned for this afternoon and we had discussions and at the end of the discussions, we have resolved as follows and this resolution is without prejudice whatsoever to the case that is lying at the Supreme Court at this point in time. This has to do with the issue of currency redesign.

“We note very seriously that the programme and its implementation is causing tremendous difficulties to the people of Nigeria and to the national economy.

“That, we urge the Attorney General of the Federation and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria to respect the Supreme Court order of interim injunction which is still subsisting.

“That the meeting is urging His Excellency, Mr President to intervene in resolving issues that are causing this great difficulties to the economy”.

Resonating the chairman’s position, the Chairman of the APC Progressive Governors Forum PGF, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state, said all the parties at the meeting endorsed the resolution.

He said; “We are on the same page. The APC Governors Forum, the NWC is one party. We are all together.

“The chairman said the governors and the party are one and the same and I am very proud about the conduct of our campaigns by our presidential candidate under the able leadership of our party led by Abdullahi Adamu and the DG of the Campaign Council and the governors alongside all our APC candidates across the country who have been doing a tremendous job of mobilizing Nigerians.”

Earlier, Ganduje, had accused President Buhari of plotting to scuttle the forthcoming general election and form an interim government with the naira redesigning policy, adding that he was trying to ensure that the candidate of the APC, Tinubu loses the presidential election.

Ganduje’s outburst was contained in an audio message aired on local radio stations in Kano, where he said Buhari’s “anti-democracy policies” would affect the electoral fortunes of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

He lamented that it was unfortunate that Buhari was hellbent on redesigning the currency even to the detriment of his party.

He said: “No doubt, we know the value and worth of a politician. That’s why if you look at the things going on now, you will feel like crying.

“This is someone who had contested many times and lost. We now formed a merger, and he won. But look at what he’s doing now. He is just after destroying the party that brought him to power. Otherwise, how do you explain the essence of this naira redesign policy?

“Have you weighed the implications of this policy in an election period? What is the intention behind this for God’s sake?

“Why can’t he wait till after the election, or why didn’t he introduce it seven and a half years ago?

“So every politician will be suspicious of the motive behind the policy at this time,” Mr Ganduje lamented.

He said it was regrettable that the federal government is still adamant about enforcing the new monetary policy despite warnings from the World Bank and some world leaders.

“How can you allow the CBN governor, who isn’t a politician and lacks knowledge, to influence such a decision.

“As a leader, you allowed the banking sector to be in crisis. If not that our democracy is in shambles, who will allow such a thing to happen.

“So he (Buhari) doesn’t have answers to all these questions, and democracy doesn’t support such decisions. And that’s why we took the matter to court to express our misgivings because we see it as a plot to scuttle the forthcoming election and set up an interim government,” Ganduje concluded.

However, knocks and kudos have trailed the opponents of the president’s decision as well as the APC governors. Constitutional lawyers including Prof Mike Ozekhome, Mr. Monday Ubani and Olu Adegboruwa have faulted both the CBN and president on one hand for flaunting the orders of the Supreme Court, and el-Rufai and his APC colleagues on the other hand for daring the pronouncements of the president. They unanimously agreed that such utterances and affronts are capable of dragging the nation into anarchy.

While the president has maintained a dignified silence ever since, presidential aide, Adamu Garuba, challenged Ganduje and el-Rufai, claiming that it is only those that have stocked up stolen money for vote buying are the ones complaining.

In all these, it is only the APC attacking the APC!

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: FG, Labour Meeting Ends in Deadlock




Talks between the Federal Government and organised labour over the removal of fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock on Wednesday as they failed to reach a consensus following the hike in petrol pump prices to over N700 from N195 per litre by oil marketers.

The hours-long meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa was to, among other things, prevent a labour crisis following the recent increase in the petrol pump price occasioned by the discontinuance of petroleum subsidy.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit to reflect the market realities. The agency, however, failed to state the new prices of petrol.

However, several retails outlets sold the product between 600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, pointed out that the hike in the cost of PMS would trigger galloping inflation in the country, stressing that some outlets in the South-East were currently dispensing the product at N1,200/l.

Ukadike stated, “Once NNPCL retail stations have adjusted their pumps to reflect the new price, there is nothing you can do about it; that is the new price. As I speak with you, all of them are now selling at the new prices. The situation is so bad, that somewhere in Ebonyi State our members informed us that it is now N1,200/litre.

“We thought the President would remove the subsidy through a seamless means because the source of this petrol is the NNPCL. They are the ones subsidising petroleum products, they are the people who use their revenue to subsidise this product.’’

The IPMAN spokesperson expressed worry over the rate of increase in inflation and hardship that would come as a result of the latest hike in petrol price.

“This hike in petrol price will definitely lead to galloping inflation and will worsen the hardship already being faced by the Nigerian masses. It is not something to cheer about. It came as a surprise and in the coming days, we will see the very harsh ripple effects,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ukadike has called on the Federal Government and the NNPCL to give other marketers the opportunity to start importing petrol in order to create competition in the sector.

“The NNPCL is importing and has not given people the opportunity to join them in importing so as to see whether private sector operators can import the product cheaper or not. So there is no competition. In a deregulated regime, there must be competition, everyone with capacity should be allowed to import,” the IPMAN official stated.

When asked whether other marketers could resume imports since the government had finally deregulated petrol prices, Ukadike replied, “Marketers can import, but let me tell you some of the factors militating against this. The first is that there won’t be availability of dollars.

“You will source your dollar from the parallel market and if you are not careful in doing this, and you go into the importation of petroleum products, you might not ‘come out of it alive’ at the end of the day.

“So what we are saying is that those advantages that NNPCL has, should be shared with other major importers of petroleum products. If it is through crude buy-back, they should let us know so that independent players such as IPMAN members can come together and be able to use it in the buy-back model.’’

He added, “For independent marketers, the most important thing is that there should be availability of petroleum products, and the government should open up the space for importers and investors to come in.”

NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running, confirmed the hike in petrol price in a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide.

But the move has sparked a groundswell of anger across the nation with the Nigeria Labour Congress demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.

The union also said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the fuel price increase which had triggered hoarding and scarcity across the country with attendant rise in transport fares, goods and services.

The fuel price hike by the oil firm is coming 72 hours after President Bola Tinubu declared in his inaugural address on Monday that the subsidy regime had ended.

To pacify the growing anger over the situation, the FG hastily summoned some labour leaders to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday evening.

The meeting had in attendance the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, former NLC President and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, and others, however, ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach a consensus.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joe Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”

He faulted the NNPCL over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.

He said the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negational table.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.

“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, and the government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.

The Punch

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Breaking: Founder, DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi is Dead




By Eric Elezuo

The Founder of DAAR Communications, owners of the foremost radio and television stations in Nigeria, Raypower and African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.

Reliable sources said the High Chief died while exercising on a treadmill on Monday afternoon.

The source said Dopkesi suffered a stroke some weeks ago.

Details soon…

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I Stand on Rule of Law, with Our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, PDP, Says Dele Momodu




By Eric Elezuo

Frontline journalist and Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Council in the just concluded Presidential election, Chief Dele Momodu, had said that he remains a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and will always stand on the side of rule of law, and with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Momodu made the revelations in a statement he signed himself, noting that the last election, which brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to power, was savagely manipulated by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He praised the steps Atiku, and the presidential candidate of the Labour candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, have taken in seeking legal redress.

The statement in details:


My position on the state of our country NIGERIA is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its Rule of Law. My political party PDP and others passionately hold the view that the last Presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts. Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR (GCON) who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard earned Democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.

I salute and respect The Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and Brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labor Party Presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of Democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests…


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