By Bola Badmus- Lagos
Pan- Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari on the 7-day request made to Nigerians to allow him to resolve the problems associated with the cash crunch in the country, declaring that the period being requested by him was too long.
President Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, Buhari, after meeting with members of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) at the State House last Friday, said he would take a decision “one way or the other” within the seven days that the new deadline for the currency exchange remained.
The governors had met the president to inform him of the excruciating pains Nigerians were going through in their attempts to withdraw money from the banks and exchange the outgoing Naira notes with new ones, begging him to reconsider his stance.
It would be recalled that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had last year October, came up with redesigned notes for N1,000, N500 and N200, stating that the deadline to replace the old notes with new ones was January 31, 2023, but had to extend the deadline to February 10, 2023.
Afenifere gave this stance on Saturday in a statement signed by its spokesperson, Comrade Jare Ajayi, a Micro copy of which was made available to newsmen, declaring further that the seven (7) days being requested by Mr. President tends to suggest that he “does not appreciate the enormity and the intensity of the pains Nigerians are going through all in attempts to obtain cash from their accounts in banks across the country.”
The pan- Yoruba socio-political group, while making its position known on the issue, sadly noted that several lives had been lost already, with social and economic activities seriously paralyzed.
“For the nation to have to wait for another seven days is to say that the people can continue to go on suffering. That lives can continue to be lost and that businesses can continue to be crippled,” Afenifere said.
Speaking further, Afenifere said the fact that there had been no indication that President Buhari was prepared to “act quickly” the time this statement was being issued, was what prompted it to urge him to “act fast because lives and economies of Nigerians are seriously in danger as a result of the difficulties in getting cash and fuel.”
The group recalled that it took the president about six months to constitute its cabinet in his first term, just as it said “his administration seemed to be noted to dilly-dally where decisive steps are required – a situation that made some people to dub the President as ‘Baba Go-Slow!”
“The outcry of Nigerians forced the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to obtain the permission of President Buhari last week Sunday, to extend the deadline to February 10, 2023. But even then, Nigerians have been finding it very difficult to obtain not just the new notes but even the old currency notes from their banks and sundry financial institutions that deal with cash.
“The situation became so critical that people in some cities in the country protested. The protest led to the death of at least two people in Ibadan on Friday last week.
“Bank customers recount unpleasant experiences. An example was that of a customer who wanted to withdraw N40,000 but was told that the maximum he could withdraw was N4,000! CBN last week gave a ridiculous directive that no individual should withdraw more than N20,000 per day,” the pan- Yoruba group said.
“Emotions of Nigerians predictably ran high due to frustration. In places like Ibadan, Benin, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Bauchi, Lagos, etc, it was tensions galore. This happen despite the assurance given by Mr Emefiele that “the exercise has achieved a success rate of over 75 percent of the N2.7trillion held outside the banking system.”
The spokesman then called on Bank officials and others who were sabotaging the system to desist “because what goes around comes around,” noting that this declaration came against the backdrop of reports of some commercial banks in places like Port Harcourt, Bauchi, Lagos, among others hoarding the new currency while their officers refused to load the Automated Teller Machines (ATM) with the notes.
He, therefore, urged President Buhari to come out boldly to instruct CBN to flood the banks with new notes and allow both the old and the new ones to continue to circulate for at least the next three months.