Amaechi Okonkwo – Port Harcourt
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has faulted the implementation of the Naira swap policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as shoddy and political.
He said the exercise has worsened the living condition of the poor in society stressing that the essence of government and its agency such as CBN, is not to inflict hardship on the masses but to cushion it.
Wike made this remark during the official presentation of the letter of nomination for the “award of Independent Man of the Year 2022,” on him by the management of Independent Newspapers, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Tuesday.
He observed that Nigerians were suffering as a result of the tactless implementation of the naira swap policy, and urged the government to urgently ameliorate the condition of the people.
The governor stated; “We are in a difficult situation now. It doesn’t matter what anybody may say. The truth must be told at all times. Nigerians are suffering now and as a people, we owe that responsibility to cushion the level of hardship that Nigerians are facing, we are not to worsen the situation”.
He said people are not necessarily opposed to the redesign of the N1000, N500 and N200 notes, but that they were concerned about the implementation of the policy and the hardship it has inflicted on the masses.
“Nobody says, and let it be on record that there is nothing wrong with redesigning our naira. What we are saying is the implementation will not help, rather it will aggravate the condition that people face, particularly the poor people,” he stated.
According to him those who insist that the naira swap policy will curb corruption and eliminate vote buying during the general election are not sincere; “the whole thing is been political, and that is not what it is supposed to be.”
The Governor said it was regrettable that the CBN has failed to emulate global best practices in its implementation of the naira swap policy stressing that ideally, the CBN should have allowed the old notes to be in circulation alongside the new notes for at least one year before it is completely phased out.
“You have also not made the new one available and then you have said we can’t collect the old one again. Now, you that even have money in the bank, you’re not allowed to even collect your money,” he observed.
The governor stated that those who are advocating that Nigerians should embrace internet banking have failed to take into cognisance the fact that the vast majority of the citizens, particularly in the rural areas don’t have bank accounts.
He charged the media not to be indifferent to the prevailing situation in the country because it has a vital role to play in the people’s quest for the actualisation of a just and equitable nation.
Earlier, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Independent Newspapers, Steve Omanufeme, said governor Wike, was nominated for the award for his dogged fight for justice, equity and fairness.
“We are today to officially present the letter of your nomination as Independent Man of the year 2022. Everybody can see and know what you have done in Rivers State. But beyond that, we are giving this award because of your action which people misunderstood, especially your contribution to good governance, your dogged fight for justice, equity and fairness.”
Omanufeme said Wike has become the voice of the voiceless in the country and expressed confidence that history will be fair to him.
He urged Nigerians to take the governor’s message to heart and work towards defending the country’s fledgling democracy.
He said; “This award is to put it in history that you were there, you came and you conquered, and even tried to make us, we the spectators, believe in you. We pray we carry it on and tell Nigerians that the oppressed must be released from the shackles.”
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