The former National Chairman of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has faulted the cashless policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), insisting that the nation’s apex bank cannot govern the country by decree.
He described the policy as senseless, adding that he believes the apex bank led by Godwin Emefiele deceived President Muhammadu Buhari into agreeing to support it.
The former governor of Edo State and one-time president of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) described the current economic crisis the CBN policy had brought as unacceptable.
He said during an interview with Channels TV on Sunday evening.
Oshiomhole, who was reacting to the scarcity of new naira notes of N200, N500 and N1000 and attendant consequences, noted that there are 18 local government areas in Edo State, yet there is only one local government with banks.
He added that even in the most industrialised part of the state where there are two giant cement factories, there is no bank there.
He said he believed the CBN told the President that redesigning naira notes would curb vote-buying and reduce corruption.
“So, I can guess, I was not there, that in obtaining the approval, I believe the CBN deceived the President by amplifying the need to have corruption-free electioneering as if election is the only project this President has a responsibility for.”
He added that the President Buhari he knows “will have no difficulty in agreeing”.
Accusing the CBN management of having an ulterior motive, Oshiomhole said, “You could see that the intention of the bank is not to eliminate abuses but to stop the elections from taking place.”
He described a situation where Nigerians will be forced to pay 20 percent of their legitimately earned money to Point of Sale operators to get their money to feed themselves and their family as gravely painful.
“We have 18 local governments in Edo and yet we have only one local government with banks. And so even in the most industrialised part of Edo State where you have two giant cement factories, there’s no bank there. And so it is painful to me and I am shocked because you know you and I sit in the city.
“We pontificate about election etc…. a motor mechanic tells me in the cause of my campaign that POS operator in his neighborhood, he says that he should pay 20 percent, so when he wants to withdraw N5000 he has to part with N1000. Nigeria is not exactly a banana republic.
“I am shocked that CBN could pursue this senseless policy and let me be clear when I said senseless – it is not about the idea of changing currency. This Governor has broken no new grounds because we have changed currencies before, and I daresay check the records when General Muhammadu Buhari changed colours of naira when he did in his first coming as military head of state.
“He did not forbid the banks from paying people in new notes. He did not impose restrictions as to how much you can withdraw provided it is your lawful money. To assume that every Nigerian is corrupt; that the motor mechanic is corrupt and this policy is meant to check corruption. The CBN is not part of institutions charged with the responsibility of ensuring free, fair and credible elections.
“That is not in the Act establishing CBN. So, when I heard argument that seems to criminalise and in a sense blackmail the political elite as though they are responsible. In fact, I got angry and I said if corruption is at the heart of CBN challenge, how do they explain that you Seun, because you are one of the most popular TV programme, and so you were to import a camera, you can get a dollar at N440 to the dollar; and your cameraman who knows nobody, he wants to pay for his child’s school fees, he has to go to Wuse market to buy the same dollar at N740. If that is not corruption, what is it?
“So I think what Nasir El-Rufai was saying is that – if you have pockets of riots and protests and because our armed forces whether the police, obviously the army is not trained for that to manage discontent, mass uprising you may end up with a situation where you were unable to conduct election. So, it is not only APC that will lose, everybody will lose.
“Do you notice that even Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of PDP appealed for extension? Citizens shouldn’t beg the government to extend the value of their legitimately earned money because in a democracy, don’t forget that what distinguishes democracy from dictatorship is popular participation, a sense of ownership of public policy. And so it is not enough, we can’t be governed by decrees.
“If the president cannot govern by decree, nobody in Nigeria should govern by decree. We must be governed by our constitution, we have parliament.”
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