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2023: Gov. El Rufai’s desperation and APC failures

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2023: Gov. El Rufai's desperation and APC failures

By Emma Nwosu

The mismanaged production and distribution of the redesigned Naira notes by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the banks, and the trauma on the people of the severe scarcity, is highly regrettable.

Knowing full well the pervasive corruption in the land and the desperation of politicians and their collaborators in the banking system, who might hijack the new notes meant for distribution to bank customers, certain safeguards should have been put in place throughout the supply chain.

No stone should be left unturned to urgently address the situation.

Otherwise, the intentions of the currency redesign and cash withdrawal limits by the CBN are very noble, as would be highlighted shortly.
Meanwhile, there is nothing Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the combative governor of Kaduna State (who thinks that he is smarter than everybody and is capitalizing on the sad situation) can do to save the APC from defeat in the 2023 elections – even if there was N1 trillion to buy votes. The abysmal performance of the party, the ominous Moslem-Moslem ticket inspired by him, and the frailty of its aged candidate (Bola Tinubu) have sealed the rejection of the party at the polls, beyond the degree money can undo.

He will fail in the fight against President Buhari’s determination to curb vote buying and manipulation by the collateral effect of the cash withdrawal limits and Naira redesign. The interim order of the Supreme Court sanctioning old notes as legal tender beyond February 10 is bound to be vacated upon a counter affidavit by the Federal Government, in line with the CBN Act of 2007.

Also, the production and supply chain issues can and should be quickly addressed, to the relief of the people who have been stoic all these years and should not buckle to the machinations of El-Rufai and company now that victory over the predators is at hand. Violent reaction may become a pretext for postponement of the 2023 elections.

The delegation El-Rufai organized to President Buhari was purely to appeal to his emotion (as the leader of the APC) to save the party from defeat, by getting the CBN to back down on the cash withdrawal limits and also allow the old notes (which have been stashed) to trade together with the new ones, until well after the 2023 general elections, to facilitate vote buying and manipulation. It has nothing to do with identifying with the people over the hardships of the cash policies.

Where was this delegation when ASUU went on strike and the children of the poor were stranded for eight months – the equivalent of an academic year? Where are the delegations on terrorist bandits, herdsmen and Unknown Gun Men ravaging the land; on illegal mining, which is deleterious to the health and security of the people and on the perennial fuel scarcity and the subsidy scam, among others? Where is the delegation on the genocide going on in Southern Kaduna State? Why is APC alone crying for the cash squeezing measures? Does it mean that the other parties do not care for the people?

El-Rufai is among the greatest architects of APC’s gloomy fate. He and Babatunde Fashola were the most vociferous of the party’s deceptive and outlandish pledges to the people, by which they swore that APC should be sacked if not accomplished. Having failed to accomplish any, the party must be sent away!

Also, having had his way with the Moslem-Moslem ticket in Kaduna State, El-Rufai led the quest for it at the federal level and made the choice of old and frail Bola Tinubu – ahead of younger and more viable aspirants, like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Governors David Umahi and Kayode Fayemi, and Rotimi Amaechi.

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, being desperate to be president, was easily compelled to choose a Northern Moslem as running mate, at the expense of Northern Christians and the faith and regional balancing  – in which a Moslem candidate chooses a Christian running mate, and vice versa, from the counterpart region. Should the scheme succeed and the Moslem-Moslem presidency consolidates on President Buhari’s legacy of nepotism in the machinery of government, it would be followed by Northern-Northern, Moslem-Moslem tickets! (God forbid)!

APC’s chances are now beset by the awkward combination and Tinubu’s controversies, in addition to President Buhari’s abysmal performance. And El-Rufai’s ambition to become president after Tinubu – for which he supports rotation now – is in jeopardy!

At the time the Moslem-Moslem ticket was conjectured, all eyes were on the APC and PDP only. If Tinubu lost the election, El Rufai would still be cool with Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, a Fulani Moslem like himself, who would pursue a goal similar to his. Afterall, it was Atiku who “made” El-Rufai, who was the BPE Director-General with whom he conducted all the privatization exercise as Vice President and, who, later, became the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory – all by his recommendation.

No one could factor a veritable third horse like Peter Obi of the Labour Party – whose life, physical, mental and spiritual energy, as well as record of prudence and selfless service, both as governor of Anambra State and as businessman, have found unequalled favour with all well-meaning Nigerians. Obi is head and shoulders above Tinubu and Atiku on all the matters of concern to Nigerians and has destabilized the equation. El Rufai is rattled that neither Tinubu nor Atiku can win anymore, in a free and fair poll, thus the frenzied desperation, though veiled with the bravado of a combatant.

Indeed, the numerous merits of CBN’s currency measures outweigh the current hardships. And there is no better time to enforce them than now that multiple objectives (including the curbing of vote buying) could be achieved. Even if delayed for another 10 years, there would still be challenges. We got stuck to the organized crime called fuel subsidy by delaying its removal.

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First, the cashless policy is for positive cultural change. It has been on the table since 2012 and has been pilot-tested. But the unbanked population, estimated at 55.5 percent, remains too high. Inertia has to be broken to prod more Nigerians into the banking system, to adopt clearing cheques, point-of-sale (POS) systems and other electronic transfer applications, which are more secure than raw cash.

Second, both currency redesign and withdrawal limits would rake in money lying outside the banking system, for more effective monetary policies. Unbanked money is largely uncontrollable, the way water in a basket is. It is a major factor in the macro-economic instability that has been highly detrimental to all and sundry. It is estimated that up to 70 percent of the money in circulation was outside the banks.

Third, the measures will help to curb inflation – by reducing the volume of cash available to people and, thereby, the velocity (or speed of transmission) of money. Cash-mopping has become imperative due to Federal Government’s unguarded resort to Ways and Means financing (printing of unearned money to meet domestic obligations) which has exacerbated money supply and pours more fuel on inflation.

Fourth, the cash measures would also curb tax evasion, with better access to taxpayers’ cashflow through the banking BVN. It would also reduce kidnapping and other crimes motivated by cash ransom.

However, the CBN must continuously research, promote, educate and make the measures more friendly to the people, especially at the grassroots. But there should be no backing down. The cup of iniquity of the APC – as well as the PDP – is full and they must drink it now.

• Chief Nwosu is a former bank CEO, and economist.

 

 

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