As Nigerians grapple with the decision of who will be their next President in the 2023 general elections, there are many intrigues that have played out in the past few weeks into the elections. Top of it been the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s new monetary policy that has continued to pitch some governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) against the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The aggrieved governors led by Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai of Kaduna State who hitherto, enjoyed a robust relationship with President Buhari’s leadership, suddenly made a U-turn to pitch a tent against the government for its refusal to reverse the new monetary policy by challenging the government’s decision before the Supreme Court, a move many Nigerians perceive to be informed by the effect the policy will have against the governors ploy to use the old currencies of N500 and N1,000 notes which have seized to be legal tenders in the country for vote buying during the elections.
The question before many Nigerians is Governor El-Rufai’s moral standing against the policy which the Supreme Court has already fixed March 3, 2023 to pass judgement over. According to a recent interview by Premium Times, dated February 17, 2023, Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai who claimed to be a close ally of the administration that oversaw the enactment of the CBN Act 2007, being a member of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) is expected to have had a good grasp of it of the Act. However, in the seven years of the APC-led administration, El-Rufai had failed to point out the multiple violations in the CBN Act.
The essence of giving CBN autonomy is to allow it to work independent of any influence from the government while owes its primary allegiance to the Nigerian people. Even after the multiple violations of the CBN Act as claimed by Mr. El-Rufai, he failed to speak truth to the powers that be, not even in his famous “leaked memos”. One might question El-Rufai’s true intention regarding the currency redesign and what is driving him to take such strong position against it. He is now seen on different TV stations and in the print media, opposing the same federal government he has shamelessly defended in the past on various issues.
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The said CBN Act empowers the Central Bank to grant loans to the federal government as ways and means to fund budget deficits. The CBN as at 2015 had loaned the FG a total of N789.7 billion but as at the end of 2022, the total amount loaned to the Federal Government by the CBN stands around N24 trillion. This total disregard for the CBN Act and common monetary policy doctrines have directly affected the rate of inflation and this is clear for anyone that understand the basics of Economics. Ensuring monetary and price stability; stability of the exchange rate; and the maintenance of external reserves are some of the fundamentals of the CBN. The current leadership of CBN under the APC-Led administration also saw the Dollar surged to unrivalled levels amidst high inflation on almost all segments of the economy. All economic metrics to judge this administration have shown gross abuse and mismanagement or better put it sheer incompetence. With these reasons, one would have expected that Mr. El-Rufai and his colleagues will mobilize or confront the federal government or look for softer ways to advise the leadership to take decisive action that would have salvaged the economy from a free fall but none of the so-called “progressives” did that.
Not until the currency shortage currently experienced in the country, many had accused the governors of stockpiling cash for the purpose of vote buying towards the general elections, particularly the Presidential election slated for February 25, 2023 where El-Rufai and his cohorts are believed to be working tirelessly for the emergence of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu at all cost, hence the declaration of war that has led to their unanimous position against the new Naira policy in the country.
Who could have imagined that El-Rufai and his “progressive” colleagues could sue the federal government? who could have thought El-Rufai would be an advocate of rule of law after his reign as FCT minister and more recently, Governor of Kaduna State? Or is it his sudden stand to fight for the “masses” as he has been trying to portray of late? These are few out of the many questions begging for answers.
For instance in Kaduna State, El-Rufai has flaunted the directive of the Federal Government and New CBN policy to organize for the collection of cash from traders in the rural areas to be collected at different points in the state and ensure that it is taken to the CBN for value which is at clear variance with the new monetary policy. One would ask, is El-Rufai running a parallel government? With this sort of desperation, one wonders if he intends to use his stockpiled cash along with the cash from hard earned citizens to cover his tracks.
He also said his governorship candidate who is the current Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking and Currency is vast on regulatory laws and policies of the CBN, yet he failed to anticipate that this policy will cause hardship to the populace. When he went on different TV stations supporting the policy and highlighting his role in the drafting and implementation of the policy, did he not understand and anticipate the dynamics or was it too complex for him to comprehend?
Mr. Uba Sani, like his boss have always bragged about track record of Bills he has sponsored at the upper chamber of the National Assembly which include; the Bank and Other Financial Act Bill where the Cashless Policy is a well spelt out item he sponsored and pushed for assent by the President.
This therefore means that his candidate, Uba Sani as Chairman of Committee on Banking and Currency, displayed a clear case of incompetence by failing in his oversight duties to anticipate this problem. Secondly, does it mean that Senator Sani deliberately consented to the bill against his masters wish and is only saving his face now because it has backfired? The policy is so unpopular that even an El-Rufai, mostly seen as anti-people, came out in defiance of the Federal Government and even issued contradictory orders against that of the President and Leader of their Party.
Finally, Mr. El-Rufai has found his voice for the people on issues of security when he called the attention of the President in a memo that terrorist are overrunning Kaduna State but for the suspension of the new monetary policy, he could mobilize governors to the villa for a head on head collision with the government. Mr. El-Rufai went on to pass judgment on Mr. President, even though he tried desperately to be diplomatic about it. He drew comparisons between himself and the President where he said unlike President Buhari, if he takes decisions in the Kaduna State Executive Council, he stands by them. Buhari, on the other hand, after being briefed on the currency redesign and other matters like fuel subsidy, promised to take a decision but did nothing about it. This therefore means that he was actually short on declaring Buhari himself to be indecisive.
To sum up, few things are clear to me and to most critical minds that this cold war between the Governors and the Federal Government has nothing to do with the sufferings of the people as they claimed. Uba Sani on the other side has failed in his oversight duties and will most likely will be a rubber stamp stooge for El-Rufai that cannot stand to defend a policy he initially supported. He went along the with the Governor to meet with Kaduna traders and assured them that if he ( Uba sani ) wins the election, he will continue with what “ Oga” started in the mop up and exchange of the currency for value. I saw the video and it was so nauseating and lacking in principles with the sudden change of position for someone that publicly opposed the postponement of the deadline initially set by the CBN.
Uba Sani who supported the Naira redesign policy as mentioned severally in multiple media outlets as Senate Banking Committee Chairman for several years is El-Rufai’s right hand man and anointed successor. Uba sani supported this policy until it became clear that the Naira re-design and its scarcity will disrupt their well-crafted plans to win the election through the Bank door. May this incompetence never happen to Kaduna State.
By Mukhtar Aminu