The House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on New Naira Re-Design and Naira Swap Policy has said the current crisis over the naira redesign by the Central Bank of Nigeria is capable of frustrating the forthcoming 2023 general elections.
The committee also criticised the action of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the crisis as leaving “much to be desired.”
Majority Leader of the House and the committee’s Chairman, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, made this known in a statement he issued on Friday, about 24 hours after leading member of the committee to a meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
The committee had commenced investigation on the controversy over the redesign of N1,000, N500 and N200 notes by the CBN, especially the scarcity of the new notes while the old ones were rendered invalid by the CBN.
The panel had also grilled several relevant stakeholders, including the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, and representatives of Deposit Money Banks.
Though the Senate and the House had closed for the elections, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had hinted that members might be recalled to take decisions if the crisis persists.
Rather than report back to the House on the outcome of its investigations, the panel had met with Buhari on Thursday, a few hours after the president made a televised address to the nation. In the address, the president had declared that the old N1,000 and N500 notes ceased to be legal tender, while extending the validity of the old N200 note till April 10, 2023.
Many Nigerians, especially senior lawyers, had however criticised the president for disregarding the ruling of the Supreme Court that all the notes remain legal tender pending the determination of the case brought before it by some states against the Federal Government.
While Ado-Doguwa, after the lawmakers met with Buhari on Thursday, said the president’s declaration should be enforced, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, had issued a statement later in the day to tackle Buhari and Emefiele.
In what appears like a U-turn, Ado-Doguwa, in the statement issued on Friday and titled ‘House C’ttee Meets Buhari, Insists Naira Policy Unpopular, Could Jeopardise Polls’, said a lot must be done to mitigate the suffering of Nigerians following the naira crisis.
The statement said while the panel appreciated “some of the good decisions by the president as contained in his national broadcast, however, the panel insisted that a lot must be done to mitigate the suffering of the masses.”
It partly read, “The steps taken so far by Mr President leave much to be desired. The policy is, at this time very, unpopular and is capable of creating a crisis in the country that could jeopardise the upcoming general elections. Mr President may, of course, had good intentions in using the policy to tackle insecurity, reduce corruption and engender the global best practice in fiscal policy management but, unfortunately, due to wrong timing and the work of some criminal elements in both the CBN and the commercial banks, Nigerians are left suffering.”
The majority leader urged Nigerians to be calm and maintain law and order, noting that the parliament would “continue to side with the masses and resist any policy that aggravates their sufferings.”
He added, “We also urge Nigerians to continue to be calm and pursue their lawful businesses within the ambit of the law as we will continue to explore available opportunities to make sure that government does only what is right and in the overall interest of our people.”