The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday described the current scarcity of naira notes as part of an alleged plot to disrupt the forthcoming general elections to ensure an interim government takes over.
The governor made the allegation in a state broadcast.
He alleged that the development was meant to ensure that the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, and other candidates of the party lose.
He claimed that those who lost out in the party’s primaries were behind the plot.
He said, “It is important for the people of Kaduna State, and indeed Nigeria, to know that contrary to the public pronouncements and apparent good intentions, this policy was conceived and sold to the President by officials who completely lost out in the gubernatorial and presidential primaries of the APC in June 2022.
“Once Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emerged as the candidate in June 2022, and subsequently did not pick one of them as his running mate, this currency redesign policy was conceived to ensure that the APC presidential candidate is deprived of what they alleged is a humongous war chest.
“They also sought to achieve any one or more of the following objectives: create a nationwide shortage of cash so that citizens are incited to vote against APC candidates across the board resulting in massive losses for the party in all the elections; ensure that the cash crunch is so serious, along with the contrived and enduring fuel shortage existing since September 2022, that the 2023 elections do not hold at all, leading to an Interim National Government to be led by a retired Army General; sustain the climate of shortage of fuel, food and other necessities, leading to mass protests, violence and breakdown of law and order that would provide a fertile foundation for a military take-over.”
In pursuit of the objectives, El-Rufai claimed the Central Bank of Nigeria and those he described as “other disgruntled federal officials” had convinced the President that it was fine for ordinary citizens to be dispossessed of their hard-earned money, and starved if need be, while small and medium-sized businesses were deprived of access to their capital, thereby bringing trade and exchange to a grinding halt.
He said all efforts by state governors to modify the implementation of the policy to avoid what they assumed were unintended consequences were unsuccessful.
El-Rufai said politicians that the officials had convinced the President to regard as the real targets of the currency redesign policy have not been impeded in any way by it so far.
He added, “Indeed, two of the presidential candidates and a running mate of the opposition parties own or have preferred access to some of the licensed banks. For that reason and by various clandestine arrangements, these politicians have access to hundreds of millions of these new notes, while the traders, merchants, students and other citizens are queuing for days to withdraw a few thousand naira just to buy food and necessaries.
“Within two to three weeks of implementation, it was clear to everyone that the architects of this policy can see that it is our people that are being affected and not the politicians. It is quite unfortunate that many politicians who either own banks or have privileged access to money are so insulated from the pains of talakawa that they are recklessly endorsing a policy that is being badly implemented.”
The governor said there was no reason why the old and new notes should not coexist until the old notes are gradually withdrawn over the years as it is done in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and other countries.
El-Rufai faulted the position of the President on the matter, saying, “The address by the President earlier this (Thursday) morning limiting the legal tender status of old notes to only N200 amounts to total disregard and disobedience of the ruling of February 8 which was extended further yesterday (Wednesday) by the Supreme Court. “The misguided action of the Attorney-General to mislead the President into engaging in this public violation of the order of the highest court of the land shows how desperate the policy architects are to cause national chaos, by showing open contempt for the judiciary.
“The decision to recognise only N200 as legal tender till April that the President announced this morning was offered to the state governments as part of proposals for an out-of-court settlement three days ago.”