Economists, lawyers differ on Buhari’s take on old N200 notes

  • President is compassionate about poor people, say Boniface Chizea, others
  • Legal experts knock Buhari for disobeying principle of separation of powers
  • Supreme Court’s position remains valid —Lagos AG
  • We won’t collect old notes from consumers, traders vow
  • Hold your government responsible for untold hardship, Atiku blasts Buhari, APC

Many financial analysts and legal experts differed on Thursday on President Muhammadu Buhari broadcast permitting the use of the outdated N200 notes alongside the newly designed banknotes for a period of 60 days.

Uba Group

From February 10 to April 10, when the old N200 notes no longer qualify as legal currency, the old N200 banknotes will be accepted in circulation alongside the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes.

In separate interviews across Nigeria with The Point on Thursday, some financial gurus expressed their praise while legal practitioners condemned the President for overriding the decision of the Supreme Court.

While the economists contend that the old N200 notes will still be used, which will lessen the pain of the majority of the poor people, the legal experts described the national broadcast by President Buhari on the naira redesign as a contempt of court.

The Central Bank of Nigeria should expand the availability of lesser denomination notes and raise the maximum cash withdrawal amount to at least N100, 000, according to Uche Uwaleke, professor of capital markets at Nasarawa State University, Keffi.

“More Point of Sale (PoS) machines should be procured, especially by petroleum marketers or petrol stations as many of it currently in use are malfunctioning.’’

Hassan Oaikhenan of the Department of Economics, University of Benin Benin-City, also agreed that it would reduce the difficulties being experienced by Nigerians due to cash swap policy.

“It will ease the suffering of the Nigerian people to the extent that they can at least transact business with the old N200 notes alongside the new denominations.

“Meanwhile, by implication, the president is saying that N500 and N1000 old notes still remain unusable. The question is how does that tie in with the Supreme Court’s position? That all matters should be put on hold until the issue is determined?’’ he asked.

The President’s comments, according to Boniface Chizea, Managing Director of BIC Consulting Services, were consoling and demonstrated empathy for the common people.

“I think it’s a welcome development; the President is compassionate about the poor people and I think we can manage the N200 notes.

“This will also accommodate one of the central thrusts of this exercise, which is to stop people from buying votes.”

He encouraged the top bank to take ownership of its part in the situation and make sure that bottlenecks were found and removed.

He said, “If the obstacle is because the Naira that they have printed and released into the system has been underestimated, then they should print more.’’

A professor of Economics and Public Policy at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Akpan Ekpo stated that the decision to circulate the old N200 notes for another 60 days isn’t the solution to the yearnings of the poor masses.

“The President’s position is not fully reassuring. He should allow the old denominated notes and the new notes to be used side by side. As the banks get the old notes, they keep them, and then later, the Central Bank can exchange them.

“Allowing just the old N200 is just temporary, though it is something, but it won’t solve the problem of the poor people,” Ekpo said.

Some traders and small retail outlet owners also expressed relief that the additional 60 days announced by the President would allow their business return to what it used to be before the announcement of the new Naira notes saga.


Although, some of them vowed they will not collect any old notes from consumers.

Mixed reactions trail Buhari’s approval for use of old N200 note as legal tender

Some residents of Kano metropolis on Thursday differed in their reactions to President Buhari’s approval of the continued use of the old N200 note as legal tender.

Some residents in separate interviews applauded the Federal Government for extending the use of the old N200 notes by 60 days as legal tender, while others said that the number of days for the extension was still inadequate.

However, some lawyers have faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision on naira notes, hours after the President addressed Nigerians in a national broadcast on Thursday.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa described Buhari’s action as ‘contempt of court’.

Adegboruwa said the President erred by overruling the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

In a statement on Thursday, Adegboruwa knocked Buhari for disobeying the principle of separation of powers.

“Under Section 235 of the 1999 Constitution, the Supreme Court is the final authority in legal pronouncements in Nigeria.

“Under Section 287(1) of the Constitution, the President is statutorily obliged to obey, enforce and give effect to the decision of the Supreme Court.

“Section 287(1) of the 1999 Constitution: “(1) The decisions of the Supreme court shall be enforced in any part of the Federation by all authorities and persons, and by courts with subordinate jurisdiction to that of the Supreme Court.”

Adegboruwa added that the President’s broadcast was “sad for our democracy.”

“Since he already admitted that the matter is sub judice, the President should not have proceeded to vary the order of the Supreme Court.

“The President and indeed the executive should not give the impression that citizens can brazenly disregard lawful orders of any court, as that will only encourage anarchy and lawlessness.

“It amounts to executive rascality and brazen disregard and contempt of the Supreme Court for the President to separate the denomination of the old notes for legality. It is not open to the President to choose which portion of the order of the Supreme Court that will be obeyed,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said.

Also speaking on the matter, the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law, Monday Ubani, said Buhari overruled the Supreme Court with his Thursday declaration that old N500 and N1, 000 notes are no longer legal tender.

Ubani, a human rights lawyer, said “The President has actually overruled the Supreme Court decision. That is what I understand from what the President said this morning.

“But unfortunately, what the President has done this morning has actually ignored whatever is going on at the Supreme Court.

“When you say you will only allow old N200 to be in circulation, meaning that (old) N1000 and N500 notes are no longer legal tender.

“He’s clearly not mindful of what is going on at the Supreme Court with what he has just done,” Ubani said.

He added that the President had not set a good precedent because the international community is watching and won’t have confidence in the country’s democracy and judicial process.

“If you cannot obey your court orders, how do you instill confidence in the international community to come into your country to make investments?” he asked.

He noted that Buhari should have allowed the court to settle the matter rather than intervening early in the process.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, said the rejection of the old notes is contrary to the Supreme Court’s stand.

Onigbanjo stated this on Thursday when he appeared on a national television show monitored in Lagos, adding that petrol stations, banks and others who reject the old notes could be prosecuted.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria decried the lingering naira scarcity in the land and the high charges by Point-of-Sales operators that have fostered untold hardship on Nigerians.

He noted that people who are hungry and have their means of livelihood eroded cannot care about any macro-economic policy or its short or long-term gain.

The Attorney-General said “There is a contract between a customer and a bank that says when you bring your money to us you can have it back on demand. Any bank that refuses to give the money on demand has violated the terms and conditions of that contract and can be sued. I will advise Lagosians who have experienced suffering and injury as a result of the situation to press charges.”

In the Commissioner’s view, it is ridiculous that Nigerians are buying their own money. “Even the producers of goods and services are losing money due to the scarcity of new notes to purchase their products easily”, he said.

On his legal perspective on the recent Supreme Court ruling, the Attorney General noted that though President Muhammadu Buhari has enormous powers, he cannot repeal the order of the Supreme Court or any other court in the country.

However, the People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday, took a swipe at the ruling All Progressives Congress over the naira redesign policy, asking the party to take responsibility for its failure and hardship it brought upon the masses.

He said the policy failings have led to upheavals in different parts of the country in which lives were lost and properties destroyed.

Atiku, in a statement titled ‘APC should take responsibility for the failings of its own policy’ which he personally signed on Thursday, said it was surprising that the ruling party is trying to apportion blame to others rather than itself over the crisis.

He said, “This crisis may be coming on the heels of the currency swap, but it is pertinent to remind us that it is a culmination of the frustrations of Nigerians arising from the maladministration of the ruling All Progressives Congress in the past 7 years plus.

“It is easy for political expediency for the APC that has brought us to this cul de sac to want to hoodwink Nigerians into believing that the crisis was created by others.

“Truth be told, the crisis that we are witnessing today was conceived, given birth to and nurtured by the ruling APC. Indeed, it was long in coming.

“We are all witnesses to the myriad of problems that Nigerians have had to endure as a result of the cluelessness of the APC, which came into government with no idea of a policy direction.

“We are witnesses to the massive erosion of jobs; hunger and multidimensional poverty; unabated fuel scarcity; deteriorating security that has created an industry of kidnapping and massacre of defenceless citizens; free fall of the Naira; ASUU strike which kept students at home for prolonged periods of time and a general sense of hopelessness.

“The current crisis, a fallout of the policy of the ruling party’s redesign of the naira, is only the tipping point. The least the ruling APC can do is to take responsibility for its own policy and the challenges that have followed its implementation, even as we collectively work at addressing those challenges.”