The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) says the introduction of the naira redesign policy has damaged the credentials of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement on Sunday, Murtala Aliyu, secretary general of the forum, said the scarcity of cash in the country could lead to breakdown of law and order.
The forum called on Buhari to respect the ruling of the supreme court which says the old notes remain a legal tender until December 31.
“Some ten days ago, the Supreme Court of Nigeria held that President Muhammadu Buhari breached the constitution in the way he issued a directive to the CBN for the redesign of the naira without consulting with the National Council of States and the federal executive council,” the ACF said.
“It went further to rule that the unconstitutional use of powers by the president on the naira redesign has breached the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens in various ways.
The state governors have persistently argued that the policy which permitted the CBN to place an embargo on the circulation of old N500 and N1,000 naira notes, while not providing their replacement in sufficient amounts, had triggered severe cash shortage and chaos in the economy.
It has led to runaway inflation in food and other commodities. Huge crowds and long queues form around bank offices and ATM points across the country as people struggle to get the new cash which have remained extremely scarce. It has triggered riots and other forms of civil unrest.
Whatever the CBN or anyone else say about the benefits of the policy, which evidently are many, is of little comfort as soon as the highest court in the country has deemed that it is, or at least the manner of its implementation, breaches the law.
Ten days is long enough time for the government to find its way towards complying with a court order which import is central to the achievement of peace, order and good governance in the country.
President Buhari is under oath to defend the constitution of Nigeria. As his long term supporters, it will be remiss of us if we fail to warn that the much touted benefits of the Naira redesign can never justify the damage to his credentials as a democrat and a stickler for the rule of law.”
The ACF said the president should not pay a heavy price on account of a policy whose immediate goals are not entirely clear to a majority of Nigerians.
On October 26, 2022, Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, announced the plan to redesign the biggest denominations of the country’s currency to control the money supply and aid security agencies in tackling illicit financial flows.
Emefiele had said the new notes (N200, N500, and N1000) would be effective from mid-December 2022, advising customers to deposit their old notes before January 31, 2023, when they would cease to be legal tender.
The January 31 deadline sparked controversies as many Nigerians could not access the new naira notes.
On January 29, Emefiele said Buhari had approved the extension of the phase-out to February 10. On February 8, the supreme court temporarily restrained the federal government from banning the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023, pending the hearing of the matter on February 15.
Despite the court’s order, Emefiele insisted on the deadline.
Last week, the supreme court ruled that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain legal tender until December 31, 2023.