Some All Progressives Congress, APC governors were yesterday huddled with President Muhammadu Buhari in the Presidential Villa where they were believed to be engaging him on some recent policies of his government that could well define the president’s legacy.
Principal among the policies is the Cash Withdrawal Policy announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN more than 100 days ago.
The policy principally aims to curtail the amount of cash available in the system.
Governor Godwin Emefiele claims that the policy aims to bring the amount of cash in the system under the control of the CBN. Given that the availability of cash within and outside the banking system helps the CBN in the administration of its monetary policy objectives, few would blame the CBN governor over the policy thrust.
Specifically, by adjusting the Cash Reserve Ratio, CRR, that is, the amount of cash that the CBN requires the banks to keep with it, the CBN is able to fight inflation, which is one of the key jobs of the apex bank.
However, as Emefiele has lamented of recent, a substantial amount of funds is kept by people outside the banking system. These folks keep the money in cash because they do not want to be subjected to scrutiny.
Among these are kidnappers, bandits and others. It is instructive that earlier this week it was reported that bandits came out to the Maiduguri – Monguno Highway to distribute bundles of N100,000 old naira notes to travelers. That was because the old notes were becoming useless to them and a prick of conscience pushed them into an unusual act of generosity.
The decision to restrict the abundance of higher denomination naira notes such as N1,000 and N500 notes is also very salutary as it will help to stem the rate of inflation. How many of us have had to forget our change because we only had N1,000 notes?
Indeed, the focus on pushing the lower denomination notes just like restricting withdrawals is a disincentive to kidnappers as they would have to seek other productive means for survival.
The policy also aims to stem corruption. It is known that corruption is mostly facilitated through cash. Many Nigerian officials with access to easy (corruptly obtained) cash go to the Black Market and buy up the dollar at any amount. This is one of the reasons why the dollar has been so priced above the naira.
It is also of concern that cash is also used by politicians to buy votes. It is this argument that has especially brought up the fury of the APC hierarchy.
Day after day, APC propagandists have been making a circuit of the Television networks abusing the CBN governor as a saboteur over the policy. They have rightly or wrongly accused Governor Emefiele of working up the system to the disadvantage of the party.
How the policy works against the party is especially curious if not but that it hinders the capacity of the politicians to buy up votes.
The APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu besides condemning the policy as ill-timed has sent out his attack dogs including Chief Femi Fani-Kayode to attack what could undoubtedly be the best legacy of the Buhari administration.
They have used abusive words on Governor Emefiele and remarkably sought to defend President Buhari the main man involved for the policy.
Many of us would recall that about three months after he was enthroned as a military head of state in 1984 that Buhari also did a similar change in the naira. The period for the change at that time was even less. So, it is incredulous that the APC is leading what could be one of the best policies of the APC Federal Government.
It is remarkable that Governor Nasir El-Rufai has joined the fray. The Kaduna governor in the period between Wednesday and Thursday made a circuit of the major television networks to allege a conspiracy against the APC over the naira redesign policy and some other recent measures of the Buhari administration.
He has alleged that specific individuals known to Alhaji Lai Mohammed within the Aso Rock Presidential Villa were engaged in a conspiracy for the APC to lose the election.
Why Governor El-Rufai could be so desperate is bewildering given his once frontal antagonism towards Tinubu, a man he once journeyed to Lagos on a lecture tour with the theme “How to bring down godfathers.”
El-Rufai has clarified that his assertions of a conspiracy are beyond the import on Tinubu but on the APC as a whole. Some who feel the heat on Governor El-Rufai say that the otherwise normally composed surveyor could be under pressure following the recent tour of Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi to his state.
El-Rufai had in the past derided Obi as incapable of drawing a crowd of more than 200 persons in Kaduna. After last month’s successful swinging tour of Kaduna, the permutations are that Kaduna may be the easiest of the Northwest states for Obi to win.
That is given the huge support in Kaduna South and the probable support from Zaria where Datti Baba-Ahmed comes from. You could now understand the hard language from El-Rufai this week as the first man to impose a Muslim-Muslim ticket on Kaduna turned on Obi as a religious bigot and Nollywood star!