Allege CBN spent $5bn to defend naira
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — A coalition of Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, in Nigeria, yesterday, maintained that President Goodluck Jonathan has no constitutional power or authority to remove the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, the group which is under the aegis of Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, said they will attack any move to “push out” Jega as chairman of the electoral body before the forthcoming general elections.
The group said: “For the avoidance of doubt, we reiterate the fact that the President of Nigeria has no constitutional power or authority to remove the Chairman of INEC.
“INEC is not a civil service institution, it is a public institution whose actions are covered by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, the call for pre-retirement of Prof. Jega before the elections, will not and cannot be sustained. We as the civil society are ready to stand for that.”
In their press statement which was read yesterday by the Executive Director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, PLAC, Mr. Clement Nwankwo, the coalition insisted that the postponement of the elections earlier scheduled for February 14 and 28, not only “evoked dark memories of past military dictatorships” but “thrown up various constitutional and political challenges that undermine and subvert our fledgling democracy.
“Since the announcement of this dubious postponement, Nigeria has effectively been in a state of suspended animation. In the last few days alone, we have seen the effect of postponed elections on our economy, our politics, our society and our collective state of emotional and psychological well-being.
CBN spends $5bn to defend naira
“The economic costs are mounting. Compounding drop in oil price, the Naira has lost 25 per cent of its value going from N160:$1 in October to N200:$1 at the Interbank as of February 11.
“The CBN spent $5 billion in the last quarter to defend the naira but this is unsustainable, as our foreign reserves have dropped significantly in the last few months. As the CBN lacks the resources to defend the naira, the naira will eventually be left in a free fall and for a country that is import dependent, all prices will go up which means the cost of living will go up, the value of earnings will reduce and inflation will rise.
“This will undoubtedly result in wide spread labour and industrial unrest.
“Of all the threats, the most critical at this moment is the crisis of legitimacy. Section 132 (2) and 178(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) clearly states that an election shall be held “not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of office of the last holder of the office.” As such, elections cannot happen later than April 29, 2015.
“Therefore, the elections dates of March 28 and April 11, 2015, cannot be moved. The current government has spent its electoral legitimacy and must renew its mandate with the people to ensure it can make appropriate plans to handle the security and fiscal crisis we have on our hands.”
“Situation Room calls on the National Assembly, as the hub of democracy, to join in protecting our hard won democracy to ensure elections hold on March 28 & April 11, 2015 as announced.”