Nasir El-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, has warned the escalating scarcity of naira notes across the country can either mar or prevent the upcoming general elections from holding if not quickly addressed.
Governor El-Rufai spoke to some journalists on Thursday, February 2, 2023, in Hausa language after President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Progressive Governors Forum, PGF, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, over cash crisis.
He said the governors have appealed to Buhari to allow the old and new naira notes co-exist to ease the suffering of Nigerians.
The Governor also revealed that while the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, mopped up over N2 trillion of the old notes, it printed only N300 billion, which he said is not enough.
El-Rufai, who was accompanied by his Kano counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, said even if the CBN had wanted to implement the cashless policy, it should have printed a half of what it mopped up, for a start, which ought to be N1 trillion.
He further said that they told the President the masses are suffering and traders are losing their goods due to lack of patronage.
According to him: “Yes, we sat with the President, we the APC Governors showed him our concerns and the challenges that our people have been confronting due to this policy they brought about naira notes redesign. The President explained to us what he was told and we observed that, the Central Bank and the Printing and Minting Company did not tell him the reality of what is happening.
“What is happening is that, first, they said, the money they have collected from the people right now is over N2 trillion, but the new notes they printed is just N300 billion. As a result of, how can you collect this kind of money and print N300 billion.
“That is why people are facing hardship, the new notes is scarce, it is not enough. If you also look at some states and local governments areas that don’t have banks, and the challenges people are facing with POS, that is why we are facing these challenges.
“People don’t have money to take care of their daily domestic needs. Tomatoes sellers take it to Lagos, they don’t get to sell it, they get rotten and they lose their money. All these we explained to the President and he said within this week that is remaining, because the 10 days extension is already remaining seven days now.
“The President said he will meet the CBN and others, including the commercial banks, because they too are partly at fault. He said, he will hear from them before he will know what he will do.
“The President did not show us that there is no going back on this matter. He didn’t show us that the matter is over and there won’t be further extension. He didn’t also show us that there will be extension, he only told us that he will meet the CBN and others to know what exactly is happening.
“But on our part, we told him what is happening at the state level and what the people are facing and our fears that this problem if not addressed, may cause tension in the country and we fear that it may mar the general elections, it can even stop the election. As a result of these, the President said he will look into the matter.
“It was our leader, Governor Atiku Bagudu, that spoke and other governors too. Presently, he has gone to see the President privately again. When he comes out, he will speak to you further on the matter. You can ask him what transpired.
“What we the Governors are saying is that this Naira swap period should be extended, so that, everyone can get to change their money, because there’s no way N300 billion can be enough to change N2 trillion. Even if you say you don’t want half of the money out in cash, at least you should print N1 trillion, not N300 billion.
“That money will not be enough. That is the problem. So, our own advise is that, the old notes and the new ones should be spent side by side until the old notes are gradually withdrawn from circulation. Any time that you print enough new notes, you can withdraw the old notes. For now, the new notes are not enough; anyone that tells you they have printed enough new notes is lying and they are telling the leaders what is not true”, he said.
When asked about the allegation that, he was attacking Buhari for his personal ambition, El-Rufai said, “I am not attacking Buhari, the people I am tackling are those that are around the President that are not telling him the truth about what is happening, those that are not showing him what people are passing through due to these policies.
“What the President came up with the policy, we the Governors gave him our support because we know his intention, but this thing is not properly implemented and they are not telling him the truth and we the true followers of Buhari, not those following him because of what they will eat, we have to tell him the truth. President Muhammadu Buhari knows me, he knows how far we have come with him, he knows the kind of person I am.
“So, what personal ambition am I pursuing? Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is our party’s candidate and we want him to win election. I have told Asiwaju more than 10 times, that I am not looking for government job. He is the one that insisted he wants to work with me by force,” he said.
Source: The Nation