Tuesday March 21, 2023
The pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to make good his declaration last week regarding the Supreme Court pronouncement on the circulation of naira notes.
In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the organization, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere stated that reports from various parts of the country are indicating that people are still finding it very difficult to obtain cash from banks and related spots such as Deposit Monetary Banks. “This is making life very difficult for our people just as the situation is forcing many businesses to go under, especially small and medium scale businesses.”
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement issued on his behalf by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, declared that he did not stop either the Central Bank Governor or the Attorney General of the Federation from complying with the order of the apex court. The apex court had, earlier this month, ordered that both the old and the new Naira notes should remain in circulation as legal tenders until December 31, 2023.
It also stated that the ceiling put on the amount of money a customer can withdraw from his or her bank account is an infringement on the customer’s rights. And that it should be stopped forthwith.
But, according to Ajayi, as at the beginning of this week when this statement was being issued, currency notes are not only hard to come by, banks still put a limit on the amount a customer can withdraw. Even then, it was not all the banks that are giving out cash as many are still complaining of scarcity of either the old or the new notes.
Afenifere asserted that if this trend continues, the country and the citizens “are in for serious economic and social upheavals”.
Afenifere spokesman cited the warning last Thursday by Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) which lamented the high rate of inflation that is complicating “business climate and deepened challenges facing small scale businesses”. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its latest report disclosed that the inflation rate in the country was 21.91 in February – an increase of 0.09 per cent from the 21.82 that it was in January 2023.
To Ajayi “this disclosure by ACCI along with that of bankers which warned of the possible collapse of banks as a result of cash crunch, is in sharp contrast with the affirmation by President Buhari that his administration has done a lot to ensure the growth of small and medium scale businsesses.
The President, in a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, has claimed that his administration, in spite of “difficult times brought upon us by a variety of external shocks, done much to ensure survival and development of SMEs”.
The president said this while playing host to the Governing Council of the Institute of Directors led by its Chairman, Dr. (Mrs) Ije Jidenma that visited him in the Villa, Abuja.
“Right thinking Nigerians never cease to be amazed by disclosures from the Presidency which seem to fly against the reality of what is happening in the country. At the moment, everybody knows that not only are businesses under serious strain, Nigerians are finding it difficult to maintain what they have. Besides that, millions of people are finding it difficult to stay afloat as their means of livelihood are experiencing a lot of setbacks.
It is therefore surprising to hear voices from the seat of power asserting that businesses are growing”.
To further underscore the predicament being faced by Nigerians, Afenifere spokesman pointed to the report of Hamonise Cadre (HC) released last week Thursday which indicated that Naira redesign was one of the key inducers of social and economic crises as the withdrawal of the old naira notes from circulation “created a serious bottleneck to the households’ ability to access cash and food commodities”.
Hamonise Cadre (HC) is an early warning tool to prevent and manage food and nutrition crises. The process which is led by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria got technical and financial supports from the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), UNICEF, Save the Children, Mercy Corps etc.
The HC report which covered 24 of the country’s 36 states, indicated that “food consumption levels had remained inadequate and below the desired threshold across most of the states”. It went further to state that “most households had irreversibly disposed of their livelihood assets to meet their food and non-food needs”.
In conclusion, Afenifere which congratulated the government and Nigerians on the just concluded elections, called on President Buhari to prevail on the Nigerian National Petroleum Company to ensure that petroleum products are widely available just as he should order Mr. Godwin Emefiele of the Central Bank to supply commercial banks with both the old and new naira notes adequately.