Economy in Danger, Nigerians Suffering—Lagos Assembly
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Lagos State House of Assembly has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of compounding the woes of Nigerians through the Naira redesign policy, which it said has also put the economy in danger.
Speaking through its Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, the Lagos Assembly commended the National Assembly for putting pressure on the Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to ensure that Nigerians would still be able to take their old currency notes to the banks after the current deadline of February 10, 2023.
At the plenary on Tuesday, legislators in the state parliament noted that even though the policy was a good one, its timing was wrong as it had further thrown the country into economic chaos, which could become difficult to resolve if urgent steps are not taken.
Mr Obasa noted that the concern of the lawmakers had to do with the pains, anguish and anger spreading among Nigerians over their inability to access the new currency.
“Economists have said most times you cannot use new currency to control inflation, it doesn’t achieve the purpose most times,” Mr Obasa said, adding that the intention of the policy, as claimed by CBN, had been defeated owing to the various complaints from experts and people across the country.
The Speaker said the CBN should have engaged stakeholders while citizens should have been adequately carried along rather than an ‘overnight’ policy by the apex bank.
“There are people in the rural areas. It is obvious that the additional 10 days are not even going to be enough.
“The idea is a good one, but the way it is being implemented will have an adverse effect on the people.
“We need to commend the National Assembly for showing quality representation and prompt action to intervene for an extension of the deadline,” he noted.
The Speaker said that in other countries, old currencies are not discarded in a rush but allowed to fade out of the system gradually.
Mr Rotimi Olowo, the lawmaker representing Somolu Constituency 1, who moved the motion, sought an extension of the deadline till July 2023 in line with the resolution of the National Assembly while noting the suffering the policy had brought on Nigerians.
He complained about the unavailability of the new notes and the effect on the people, including small business owners and those in rural areas.
Contributing to the motion, the chairman of the House Committee on Public Account, Mr Saka Solaja, argued that financial policies are not implemented the way the CBN had gone about the Naira redesign.
“We see videos of people beating themselves mercilessly at ATMs, yet there is no money,” he lamented while supporting the call for an extension of the deadline by the CBN.
On his part, Mr Richard Kasunmu argued that the timing of the policy was not right, especially as the country was still grappling with challenges of effective internet connectivity.
He recalled how he spent five hours a day earlier trying to make an electronic transfer of N55,000 to resolve an emergency situation.
“We should be looking at the larger Nigerian people. If we want to survive the Nigerian economy, this should not be a good time for such policy,” he said.
On his part, Mr Victor Akande stressed that Mr Emefiele breached a part of the CBN Act concerning the policy, while his colleague, Mr Setonji David, noted that, “All over the world, CBN governors are economists, not bankers like Emefiele.
“Our people are suffering, and the money can’t be found at the ATMs. If you go to the ATMs, you would see how people are struggling,” he lamented.