- Call for immediate sack of Malami, Emefiele
- Nigeria may slide into economic recession by second quarter – Experts
- Buhari should address the nation now – Cleric
BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, FESTUS OKOROMADU AND BRIGHT JACOB
Mixed reactions greeted President Muhammadu Buhari’s response to the hardship, misery and suffering that Nigerians have been facing following Naira scarcity, describing his Monday evening explanation as belated, hypocritical and lacking directives.
They also called for the immediate sacking of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
Buhari had through his media aide, Garba Shehu, explained that he never instructed the duo to disobey or disregard the ruling of the Supreme Court on Naira notes redesign and swap policy.
Garba Shehu stated that “at no time did he instruct the Attorney General and the CBN Governor to disobey any court orders involving the government and other parties.”
He insisted that “Since the President was sworn into office in 2015, he has never directed anybody to defy court orders, in the strong belief that we can’t practise democracy without the rule of law and the commitment of his administration to this principle has not changed.”
Nigerians, however, would have none of the president’s explanation, saying the cash crunch and its attendant misery and pain are things that should not be experienced.
A social commentator and human rights activist, Ayo Ologun, in an interview with The Point on Monday, said Buhari’s comments lacked empathy and ought to have given instructions to the concerned authority, which is the CBN, on the circulation of the old notes and making the same legal tender.
He said Buhari was only apportioning blame and exonerating himself on what he has been culpable of.
Ologun said, “The statement coming from the President reeks of hypocrisy because by virtue of the composition of government, the CBN and Minister of Justice of the Federation are under the purview, authority and control of the presidency. So, if the Supreme Court had issued a judgment which the presidency and Central Bank decide to keep quiet about, I think it smells of hypocrisy on the path of President Muhammadu Buhari, to at this time, after a week that the judgment had been given to put the blame at the door step of the CBN or advise the Attorney General to obey the rule of law.
“What would have been expected is for the President to have shown empathy. As soon as that judgment was delivered, he was supposed to have addressed a press statement telling Nigerians that he is abiding by that order, that would have been more honourable to do, but if he had waited all this long without doing the needful, and now turning around to find the doorstep of whom to put the blame on, is not acceptable and it’s hypocritical, which is low for a man of his status.”
On whether Buhari’s reaction may bring respite and make the CBN budge, Ologun said Nigerians may only continue to hope, adding that the statement did not contain instructions and was only filled with lamentation and buck passing.
He said, “The statement can only be a hope because this is not enough. The press statement issued by the presidency is filled with lamentation and buck passing, there was no clear instructions or clear directives as to the use of the old notes and I do not, in my own understanding, see the President doing the same. What is expected is a statement from the Central Bank directing commercial banks to dispense the money so that they would become legal tender once again.”
Meanwhile, economic and financial experts have warned that if something concrete is not done to checkmate the cash crunch currently rocking Nigeria, the nation may slide into an economic recession that it wouldn’t be able to manage.
Already, they said the country is gradually losing control of the economy as some Nigerians have started spending CFA Franc due to a shortfall in the circulation of naira.
A financial expert, Samuel Atiku, said that the amount of cash available in circulation is far from enough for the economy to thrive in the country, hence the looming recession that may be realistic by the second quarter of this year.
Farmers and other entrepreneurs have continued to lament wastage of their farm produce as patronage has significantly reduced.
Most Nigerians also expressed their agonising experiences over the cash crunch as elderly people who are on drugs cannot get their medication due to lack of cash.
Lawyer and Human Rights activist, Sylvanus Enakomo, told our correspondent that the statement by Garba Shehu shows that the Presidency is divided on major policy decisions; adding that the AGF has clearly shown that he has no regard for the President and as such he should be fired immediately.
He added that Godwin Emefiele ought to have been shoved off ever since his ill-advised misadventure into politics while still holding the office of the Governor of the CBN.
“Did you know that the statement by Garba Shehu clearly shows that everybody is not on the same page in the seat of power? Malami should be fired immediately. As for Emefiele, what he is still doing at the Bank I can’t explain. Since his misadventure into politics while holding on as Governor of the Central Bank, he shouldn’t have lasted till the second day there.”
However, Monday Osasah, an Economist and Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership Strategy and development (Centre LSD), described the statement from the presidency as a welcome development but challenged the government and the Central Bank to restrategize on the implementation of the policy.
He noted that what he expected at this point was a directive by the President to the CBN governor to ensure that the new Naira is made available to citizens while the banks are tasked with improving their electronic transfer infrastructure.
He wondered what will happen next now that the presidency says it did not ask the Attorney General or CBN governor not to disobey the Supreme Court order.
“Mr. President should have come out with a matching order asking the CBN governor to make the new Naira notes available to Nigerians.
“Let’s see what happens tomorrow. The issue at hand is that the banks are not dispensing cash. If he says he did not stop them from disobeying the Supreme Court, and I recall the CBN claiming that they have destroyed the old notes they have withdrawn from their customers, where are we going to get cash?
“The issue to me is not whether they disobey the court order but the availability of cash. So the President should order them to make cash available.”
Also speaking, Michael Ochie, an industrialist, CEO, Fidal Foods Limited, Kubwa, who first expressed gnorance of the latest development said it is a welcome development but expressed concern over the fact that neither the President nor the Central Bank Governor have come out to address the public over the issue.
“Am just hearing that from you now, while I say it is a welcome development, I must also stress that it is coming a little too late. Many persons will remain sceptical as we have not seen President Muhammadu Buhari come out to make an announcement concerning the issue.
“We remember that when this whole thing started both the President and the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele came out to address the nation. Buhari said only the old N200 notes should be accepted, but now he is sending his media aides to issue a press statement what is he running away from? Well, I will wait to hear from the CBN to confirm the authenticity of whatever you’ve said.
“The fact is that many businesses have suffered huge losses while the people may never recover from their losses.
“I hope the CBN Governor will not only make a statement on the issue but will go ahead and make sure that the banks disburse money,” he stated.
A cleric with one of the Pentecostal Churces, Evangelist James Olayiwola, said what is most needed now is a new broadcast to the nation.
He argued that with another presidential broadcast to the nation, things will bounce back almost immediately.
“Buhari should forget explanations. He has taken a wrong step because what people want to see is the result not the process. If you noticed that Nigerians are complaining, and you discovered that Malami and Emefiele are doing things contrary to your wish for Nigerians, all you need to do is make a national broadcast to the nation. Frayed nerves will become smoothen and relaxed. In fact if he had made the broadcast in the morning today Monday, by now, things would have changed drastically. ”