Tussle over naira redesign: Unscrupulous politicians out to sabotage Buhari ‘s government – FG

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The federal government Tuesday described opposition political parties’ suit restraining President Muhammadu Buhari from stopping, extending or interfering with the naira swap deadline date as unscrupulous.

The government accused the parties of “turning the issue into a political game, preferring to make Nigerians suffer more on the altar of an unconscionable political gamesmanship.”

Blueprint reported that on Monday, 14 political parties threatened to boycott the February 25 election should the Central Bank of Nigeria extend the February 10 deadline for the currency swap which it had earlier announced.

A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory similarly restrained the President, the CBN, its governor, Godwin Emefiele and 27 commercial banks from suspending, stopping, extending or interfering with the currency swap terminal date.

The order was handed down by Justice Eleojo Enenche, following an application by four political parties.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed while reacting to this at the 23rd edition of the PMB Administration Scorecard Series (2015-2023), which featured the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in Abuja, said the action of the political parties was immoral and clouded with ulterior motive, which is to paint the Buhari-led administration in bad light as well as further worsen the suffering of Nigerian the masses.

The minister said: “Recall that after his meeting with the Progressives Governors’ Forum on Friday, President Buhari urged the citizens to give him a seven-day window to resolve the currency crunch that has emanated from the implementation of the naira redesign policy.

“Unfortunately, on Monday, some opposition political parties ran to court to obtain an injunction restraining Mr President and the CBN from extending the February 10 deadline for Nigerians to exchange their old notes for new ones.”

Mohammed said the court action came after a number of opposition parties threatened to boycott the 2023 general election if the deadline was extended.

He added: “These curious actions by the parties concerned are a clear evidence that the opposition has turned this whole issue into a political game, preferring to make Nigerians suffer more on the altar of an unconscionable political gamesmanship.

“Or how else can one explain the fact that these unscrupulous opposition parties do not want any action that could reduce the pains being experienced by Nigerians?

“How else can one explain the fact that they have decided to legally hamstring Mr President, in particular, from providing any relief for Nigerians suffering from the cash crunch?”

He argued that it was bad politics when one puts the interest of desperate political parties over and above that of Nigerians.

The minister, however, stated that despite the antics of the opposition, the government was willing and able to take decisive steps to bring succour to Nigerians in the shortest possible time.

According to him, “…the desperate actions will not save these sinking political parties as voters have already seen that they are the real enemies of the people and not President Muhammadu Buhari or the All Progressives Congress (APC).”

Mohammed said the federal government was mindful of the inconveniences currently being endured by the citizens as a result of fuel supply disruptions and the recent redesigning of some naira notes.

“Government is working assiduously to restore normalcy to these critical enablers of economic activity and to take added measures, where necessary, to alleviate the pains of Nigerians,” the minister assured.

TUC urges Buhari

Meanwhile, theTrade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to end the twin challenges of naira and fuel scarcity within 7 days  or face the wrath of the workers.

According to a statement jointly signed by TUC President Comrade Festus Osifo and General Secretary Comrade Nuhu Toro, the Congress lamented that rather than subsiding, the situation was biting harder. 

They said: “Never in the history of the country have Nigerians been subjected to so much pain, sorrow and anger which threatens to boil over into the streets. Indeed, pockets of protests have broken out in some states.

“Nigerians have never been subjected to the nightmare of being unable to access their hard-earned money in the banks leading to business closures and inability to pay for food, transportation and medical bills amongst other necessities.

“Also, the situation where the populace is forced to buy Nigerian currency or part with a significant percentage of cash just to get access to their own money is disheartening and evil. It is unacceptable that a country of laws with a plethora of government and security services in place is unable to curb these crimes against the people and bring perpetrators to book.

“Congress is not interested in the blame game going on in government and political circles, neither is it fascinated by the endless promises and assurances made by the Federal Government that the situation will soon be brought under control. 

 “We are worried and wish to note that smaller denominations of N100 naira notes and N50 notes were not affected by the Naira redesign, but paradoxically not in circulation anywhere in the country. President Muhammadu Buhari needs to give a marching order to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the commercial banks to make available the legal tender, unconditionally to Nigerians without further delay.

“All it demands is the immediate return to normalcy so that Nigerians, who are already subjected to an unprecedented runaway inflation, can have access to their hard-earned money.

“Again, the lengthy explanations on why there are long queues at fuel stations and prices of PMS being far above the official price can no longer be tolerated. All we demand is that petrol returns to fuel stations and is available at the official price across the country.

“We warn that the time for government to act is now before the situation gets out of hand and the populace take matters into their own hands. 

“The hope is that political office holders and the political class would heed our advice.

“Congress is however, not going to wait in perpetuity for the political leadership to put on its thinking cap. 

“Therefore, we demand that the Federal Government within seven days, beginning from Tuesday 7th February, 2023 provides a solution to the twin problems of currency unavailability and fuel shortages.

“The leadership of TUC shall be monitoring the situation closely and will give further directive should the situation not improve. All State Council executives are hereby put on red alert.

“Nigeria belongs to the people, not to the government or the birds of passage who hold power.  We should therefore be willing to make the needed sacrifices, if necessary, to salvage the country”.

 Tinubu tasks CBN

Also, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has counselled the CBN to be pragmatic, rather than being dogmatic in its deadline for the swap of old currency notes for new ones, saying the sufferings of Nigerians must not be overlooked.

Tinubu also appealed to Nigerians to remain calm as the government and relevant agencies continue to work out solutions to both Naira and fuel scarcity.

The party’s flag bearer said this in a statement by Director  Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Council PCC Bayo Onanuga, issued in Abuja Tuesday.

“Asiwaju Tinubu said he sympathises with the people, especially the downtrodden who have been made to bear the brunt of the new naira policy by the Central Bank and irregular supply of petrol that have combined to inflict avoidable pains on the masses.

“He commends the NNPC Limited for the fuel supply relief being enjoyed in the Federal Capital Territory and urges the company to step up its act to bring relief around the country.

“He also urges the CBN not to be dogmatic in the deadline it has fixed for the transition from old Naira notes to the new one, especially as the unintended consequence of the policy has been massive pain on our people,” he stated.

The former Lagos governor said he is distressed by the news of cash-strapped farmers having to sell their produce excessively cheap to avoid losing all.

“Such dispiriting experience in the short term may be a disincentive to our hardworking farmers,” he added.

Tinubu, however, assured Nigerians that the current challenges would soon be over and pleaded that people should avoid anything capable of causing unrest in the country even when they are justifiably angry.

“This is a challenging period in the life of our country when our people are made to stay on the line for hours to get fuel and even get their own money from the banks.

“I empathise with Nigerians across the country especially the poor masses, who have been made to bear the brunt and pains of the CBN Naira policy and fuel scarcity the most.

“While government continues to work to solve these problems, let’s stay calm, maintain the peace and continue to shun and avoid any act capable of causing civil unrest and disharmony.

“What the opposition and enemies of democracy want is to create a state of national siege and tension that can disrupt the coming general elections and create an atmosphere of strife in our country.

“We must say no to them. We must be resolute and stand firm to protect our democracy by ensuring we hold our elections in a peaceful and orderly manner.

“I am in this race to bring renewed hope and prosperity to all Nigerians.

“There are no challenges that will be difficult for us as a people to surmount when we stand in unity of purpose.

“When you elect me, I will work to ensure security, economic prosperity, national unity and cohesion and we will together build a country that will be a source of joy to us all and a pride to every black person everywhere in the world,” Tinubu said.

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