President Buhari told Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who held a meeting with him at the Villa on Friday, February 3, that selfish bankers are hell bent on derailing his Naira redesign policy.
New N1,000, N500 and N200 notes have been hard to come by, even after the president extended the swap deadline to February 10.
Nigerians now form long queues at bank ATMs and inside banking halls, and bank apps have since stopped working as e-banking bears the brunt of a society that has now been forced to go completely cashless.
The governors failed to have President Buhari change his mind on the new Naira policy, but appealed to him to allow both the old and new notes co-exist till the end of the year, to ease the suffering on Nigerians.
According to Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who spoke with some journalists in Hausa language, while the Central Bank of Nigeria 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 State counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, said even if the CBN had wanted to implement the cashless policy, they should have printed at least half of what they mopped up, which is N1 trillion.
He said they told the president that the masses are suffering and traders are losing their goods due to lack of patronage. He gave example of tomatoes sellers that travelled to Lagos with their goods but all got wasted because people have no money to buy.
So they appealed to the president to reconsider his stance on the issue and allow old and new currency to continue to exist.
El-Rufai said the president did not tell them yes or no. He disclosed that the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum, Atiku Bagudu, has gone back to meet the President privately with the hope to convince him to change his mind.
At the time of filing this report, he was being awaited to address the media.
Per Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu:
President Buhari said the currency re-design will give a boost to the economy and provide long-term benefits while expressing doubts about the commitment of banks in particular to the success of the policy.
“Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves”, said the President, “even if a year is added, problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away.”
He said he had seen television reports about cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people and gave assurances that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension will be used to crackdown on whatever stood in the way of successful implementation.
“I will revert to the CBN and the Minting Company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” the President assured.
The Governors told the President that, while they agreed that his decision on the renewal of currency was good and they are fully in support, its execution had been botched and their constituents were becoming increasingly upset.
They told the President that, as leaders of the government and party in their different states, they were becoming anxious about a slump in the economy and the series of elections that are coming. They requested the President to use his powers to direct the concurrent flourish of the new and old notes till the end of the year.
The President said when he considered giving the approval to the policy, he demanded an undertaking from the CBN that no new notes will be printed in a foreign country and they in turn gave him assurances that there was enough capacity, manpower and equipment to print the currency for local needs. He said he needed to go back to find out what was actually happening.
ALSO READ: CBN, MINT Co. has no capacity to print enough currency notes needed in Naira redesign – Sources
President Buhari told the Governors that, being closer to the people, he had heard their cries and will act in a way that there will be a solution.