CBN’s Naira Redesign Policy Was Wrong- NBA President

The president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, has said that the current realities on the ground across the nation are proof that President Muhammadu Buhari may have been wrongly advised by the naira redesign, circulation, and old currency swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

The NBA president said this when he paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed in Abuja.

Posting via his Facebook page on Saturday, Maikyau stated that he told the minister that the CBN policy which directed that old notes ceases to be legal tender from January 31st is having negative impact on ordinary Nigerians.

He said the association’s 128 branches nationwide assessed the policy and found that Nigerians are concerned about the scarcity of the new notes and the difficulty they are encountering in swapping the old notes.

“I informed the Minister that I directed the chairmen of the 128 branches of the NBA to survey and assess the impact of the policy on Nigerians in their respective jurisdictions and the aggregate of the reports thus far indicated that banking facilities are being overstretched and citizens are uncertain about the policy.

“I noted that the worse hits are the underprivileged citizens whose life assets may not be up to N10,000 and who do not have access to the new notes and may therefore be denied of their hard-earned money in the old naira notes.

“I recalled that the Government ought to avoid the repeat of the harsh experiences of Nigeria in 1984 when a similar demonetization policy reportedly claimed the life of a trader who committed suicide because he was stranded with about NGN 200,000 of the old notes.

“While addressing the Minister, I stressed that President Buhari may have been wrongly advised on the policy because by the provisions of the CBN Act the power of the CBN to call in any of its notes or coins otherwise described as demonetisation, can only become operational upon the directive of the President after giving reasonable notice for the recall,” the NBA president stated.

He added, “From the clear wording of the section, these two conditions must coexist before the power to call any of the notes or coins by the CBN can crystallise.

“The questions that have trailed this policy from our consultations include; was there a directive of the President? And where there was one, could it be said that the notice, given the prevailing circumstances was reasonable ? The questions seek to interrogate the process leading to the policy and justify the need for extension of the timelines for its implementation.”

Comparing Nigeria and the United Kingdom, he said the former gave Nigerians only a mere 45 days to swap naira notes, “since the new naira notes only became available from December 15″, adding that ” when a similar policy was introduced in an advanced economy as United Kingdom’s, the government had announced a date for demonetization 18 months in advance.”

The reaction of the NBA president is coming at a time when POS operators are charging high to give new notes while some are lamenting the scarcity of new currencies.

For instance, in Ushafa area in Bwari Area Council, a POS operator was seen by NewsNGR, charging N500 to dispense N3,000 to customers, and N200 charged for N1,000.

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