Demonetisation Policy: Buhari May Have Been Wrongly Advised- NBA
President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Yakubu Maikyau SAN, has disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari may have been wrongly advised on the monetization policy because by the provisions of the CBN Act, “the power of the CBN to call in any of its notes or coins otherwise described as demonetisation, can only become operational upon the directive of the President after giving reasonable notice for the recall”.
Maikyau argued that from the clear wording of the section, these two conditions must coexist before the power to call any of the notes or coins by the CBN can crystallise.
The NBA President stated this when he paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, on Friday.
From its consultations, the questions that have trailed the policy, NBA President said, “was there a directive of the President? And where there was one, could it be said that the notice, given the prevailing circumstances, was reasonable ? The questions seek to interrogate the process leading to the policy and justify the need for extension of the timelines for its implementation.”
Speaking on the condition of reasonable time as provided for in the law, the NBA President added that while the CBN for the first time announced the policy in October 2022, citizens have only been given a mere 45 days to swap naira notes, since the new naira notes only became available from December 15, 2022.
Reacting on the demonetisation policy of the CBN which directs that the old naira notes ( N200, N500 and N1000) will cease to be legal tender in Nigeria from February, 2023, the NBA insisted that the law allows Nigerians to redeem their old naira notes at the CBN even after the January 31, 2023 deadline set by the apex bank.
More so, the NBA has appealed for the urgent review of the demonetisation policy of the CBN. The NBA’s appeal is contained in a letter signed by its President, and addressed to the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele.
Maikyau related the concerns of the Nigerian people over the demonetisation policy of the CBN, particularly in view of the scarcity of the new notes and the difficulty Nigerians are encountering in swapping the old notes.
“The worst hit are the under-privileged citizens whose life asset may not be up to N10,000 and who do not have access to the new notes and may therefore be denied their hard earned money in the old naira notes” NBA said.
He posited that Government ought to avoid the repeat of the harsh experiences of Nigerians in 1984 when a similar demonetisation policy reportedly claimed the life of a trader who committed suicide because he was stranded with about NGN 200,000 of the old notes.
In a statement on Saturday by Akorede Lawal, National Publicity Secretary, NBA acknowledged the policy is laudable as it has the potential to stem corruption, vote buying and other criminal activities.
However, the NBA President noted that “the necessary logistical, infrastructural and manpower support, required for the successful implementation of the policy are in short supply and should be greatly improved upon if they are to be leveraged for full implementation of the policy with minimal loss or economic hardship.”
In the letter to Emefiele, the NBA President expressed concerns that there is no information in the public domain as to what would happen to the old currency in possession of Nigerians, by or after the 31 January 2023, even as the law is clear on this issue.