November 27, 2022

•Policy targeted at opposition, says Obaseki

There is no plan to print the proposed new naira notes outside Nigeria, a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Board member has said.

“All the new currency notes are printed in Nigeria by the Nigeria Security, Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC), so I do not envisage printing outside the country,” the Board member told The Nation in confidence.

He, however said that he has no idea of the cost for printing the new currencies for now. But he assured that the cost is “something that can be accommodated in view of the expected benefits of the re-designed notes”.

According to CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, the N1000, N500 and N200 are to wear new looks soon.

Shedding light on the communication or lack of it between the CBN and the minister of finance on the decision to redesign some denominations of the naira, the CBN Board member insisted that “the CBN Governor did not take the decisions on currency redesign alone”.

According to the Board member, “at present, the Board of the CBN has not been inaugurated even though the Senate has confirmed the re-appointment of the members. Until the Board is inaugurated, it cannot sit”.

He went on to add that “in the interim, the President who is the Supervisor of the CBN, acts on behalf of the Board. This is why the Governor went directly to the President for approval of the redesign.

But Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki yesterday read political meaning to the proposed naira redesign.

He claimed that the move was a ploy by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to sway voters ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Obaseki spoke at the inauguration of Edo State Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) Women Campaign Council at the presidential campaign secretariat of the party on Sapele Road, Benin, the state capital.

He said: “The redesigning of the nation’s currency should not be a priority, as the majority of citizens are suffering from hunger, poverty and economic hardship.

“They say we should all bring our naira and give it to them, because they want to change it for us. Is that our priority now?

Read Also: Naira redesign: Any implications for the economy

“Does changing of currency reduce the price of food in the market? They say they want to change our currency, and dollars are going higher every day. We cannot even see dollars again.

“I am an economist and I can tell you categorically that this policy by the CBN and Federal Government has no basis in Nigeria’s economy. There is no reason to do this. The move is purely political, as there is no urgency in changing our currency.”

Edo governor was of the opinion that putting food on the table of Nigerians ought to have been given priority attention by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

He said: “The urgency is on how to get food for our citizens to remove starvation and hunger from the land. The urgency is on how to maintain discipline in our monetary policy. So that we can manage our foreign exchange rate, because we are import dependent.

Former CBN Deputy Governor Prof Kingsley Moghalu said the CBN did no wrong by not personally informing Finance, Budget and National Planning Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.

Moghalu said: “The CBN only needs the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari for this particular exercise. There are only three issues on which, in the CBN Act of 2007, the CBN should obtain external authorisation, and only from the President of Nigeria, for its operations: any alterations to the legal tender (the naira); any investment of the bank’s funds outside Nigeria; and the Bank’s annual report.

“Outside of these, the only approving authorities for CBN operations are its Committee of Governors consisting of the Governor and the four Deputy Governors, and the Board of Directors of the CBN, which includes the Governor, the four Deputy Governors, and seven  external members which include the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Accountant-General of the Federation.”

Moghalu alleged that Emefiele was politicising “the central bank by routinely subjecting its operations to the whims and caprices of the Presidency far beyond what is the appropriate relationship, and compromised the independence of the CBN as a result. That is why the finance minister erroneously feels entitled to be informed or consulted”.

He called on the apex bank to “focus hard on the implementation of this policy. It will impose huge pressures on the banking system.

“How can the woman frying bean cake in the rural area, who keeps most of her cash under her pillow, be aided to come into the banking system under this new policy? There are others as well whose monies are outside the banking system for reasons that are not negative”.

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