…Reverses Bank Notes Expiry Order
…As Buhari Tune To Famed Silent Mode
BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
Apparently abandoned by President Muhammadu Buhari to his fate, and faced with severe intimidation and threats to his wellbeing, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele has backed out of the policy decision to end the lifespan of N200, N500 and N1000 denomination in line with the cash redesign policy of government, billed to have commenced today.
With his tail between his legs, the CBN Governor recanted and reversed the identified cash expiration as part of his announcement in September 2022 as he faced a hostile National Assembly where he spluttered under stern looks of the lawmakers: “I stand with the House of Representatives…”
Looking utterly confused, he said that banks will continue to accept old Naira notes after the February 10 deadline; which was actually a week extension from the initial due date, being today, January 1, 2023.
Emefiele spoke when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the Naira redesign and Naira swap policy. With visible trepidation written over his face, the country’s number one banker fumbled and wobbled as he attempted to define, expostulate and situate the regulatory provisions that cover the currency change policy.
Short of publicly admitting that the policy has been withdrawn, Emefiele made reference to the CBN Act which mandates the apex bank to continue to accept old notes after its expiration, quoting Section 20 (3) of the CBN Act which states: “Notwithstanding sub-sections (1) and (2) of this section, the bank shall have power, if directed to do so by the president and after giving reasonable notice in that behalf, to call in any of its notes or coins on payment of the face value thereof and any note or coin with respect to which a notice has been given under this sub-section, shall, on the expiration of the notice, cease to be legal tender, but, subject to section 22 of this act, shall be redeemed by the bank upon demand”.
Seemingly mindful of the House Speaker’s gavel and the grave consequences it holds for him should he say anything contrary to the House demand to reverse himself under the circumstances, he explained that even after the old currency has lost its legal tender status “We (CBN) are mandated to collect these money (old notes) and I stand with the House of Representatives on this.”
The proposed policy has since set the nation’s political elites against the CBN Governor, and as the due date drew near, larger than life rogue politicians had launched their political machines and attack mercenaries to the front, who from different directions not only bayed the chief banker, but promised him hell if he went ahead with the policy plan.
It would appear that he was a bit rather naïve, as he stood his ground, perhaps, innocently trusting in his boss to watch his back. As at the time it dawned on him that he was on his own, the plot to ‘take care’ of him had reached advanced execution level, at which point he was minded to flee the country.
Despite that President Muhammadu Buhari was privy to the policy discussions and endorsed the plan, the Department of State Security (DSS), seemingly acting a strange script, accused Emefiele of ‘terrorism financing’, and approached the court to grant it leave to have him arrest and interrogated.
When the court decline, the plot to hamstrung him weakened, giving way to Option B, which entailed the resurgence of unstrained attacks by the goons of some political potentates, whose political aspirations believed to be tied to a robust, gigantic financial structure, suddenly cramped the national space, baying for Emefiele’s blood.
There are reports the DSS didn’t give up its determination to probe Emefiele, willy-nilly, as the department reportedly declared him wanted and vowed to arrest and put him through philistine’s trial; where the highest organ of authority, the presidency was perceived as sitting on the fence on the matter; when it mattered most.
And with the policy implementation date barely weeks away, the financial governor started to consider option for a political asylum, in the face of the president having changed to his trademark mode of unapproachable silence, which political observers have often described as the ‘deaf and dumb’ mode, being his unique political tactics.
Just as the embattled financial regulator was about pressing button to commence work on his application for asylum, a silver lining presented itself, through whose fortuitous protection, he scurried back to office; effectively evading arrest, and apparently putting asunder at least, temporarily, the game plan to suffocate him.
But the political machine guns have started booming with fearful rumblings, as tactical warlords that have been well positioned in governance before hand, emerged from their respective bunkers, figuratively shouting ‘death to the money governor.’
Their verdict reverberated across the political space, as their minions and foot soldiers answered in unison, thus intensifying the hunt for Emefiele, once again. Alone and unprotected, he presented himself at their court, but also quite made up to act wisely to escape the verdict that will follow the most likely preposterous witch political trial.
Nor was Emefiele’s enemies’ by any account a handful of disgruntled persons, his cash redesign was targeted at the various camps of inexplicable mega wealthy politicians and public office holders, across political persuasion.
It is instructive that even the seemingly political opponents that have tore at themselves in the face of the ongoing presidential electioneering campaign, treated Emefiele as common enemy, as the opposition political gladiators in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and indeed, the others refrained from any comment on the howling wind of disquiet, in sordid acquiescence with the open anger of the All Progressive Congress (APC) party loyalists and political job seekers.
The strange disposition of President Buhari to the partial fulfillment of the cash swap policy he helped design and directed its execution, perhaps remains the biggest unresolved riddle. In an interview with Premium Times sometime in September last year, when asked about the policy, the president said he designed it to promote electioneering integrity by preventing vote buying.
“This change of currency, l think…there are issues of a lot of money…but time is being given, from October to December, three months, is enough, whatever money you have, to get it changed through a legal system. So l don’t know why people are complaining about it.”
Asked if despite the complaints there is no going back on the policy, he said, “No, there is no going back. My aim is to make sure that Nigerians believe that we respect them as an administration, so Nigerians should vote for whoever they like, from whichever party. Nobody will be allowed to mobilize resources and thugs to intimidate people in any constituency; this is what l want to go down into Nigeria’s history.”
As he also doubled backwards on his last pledge to sanitize the electioneering process, history indeed will be the judge.