February 21, 2023

Buhari’s firm defence of Naira policy

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has continued to surprise his critics and well-meaning Nigerians with his no-nonsense stance towards the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN’s, Naira redesign/cash swap policy and commitment to a free, fair and credible election without executive interference. If he had adopted this governance attitude from the first days of his administration, he would have ended as one of the most effective leaders we have ever had.

The president put the metrics of the issue before the public in his early morning national broadcast on Thursday, February 16, 2023. The Naira policy had to be undertaken by the CBN in line with its core constitutional and legal mandates to exert control over monetary policy.

According to him, in 2015 when the regime took off, there was N1.4 trillion in circulation. But by October 2022, the figure had risen to N3.23 trillion “out of which only N500 billion was within the banking system, while N2.7 trillion remained permanently outside the system, thereby distorting the financial policy and efficient management of inflation”.

Even the most ardent critics of his government have conceded that the decision by the CBN to rein-in an out-of-control Naira was long overdue. Some are fretting about the timing, while others are huffing that the cash swap deadline was designed to scuttle their political ambitions.

We disagree with both notions. Which time is ever bad to carry out a good policy? The only thing we frown on is that it took until the Naira was racing towards the unenviable status of Zimbabwe Dollars before action was taken. However, in view of the fact that it was deliberately timed to promote President Buhari’s commitment to a free, fair and credible general elections without undue influence of vote-buying, the timing cannot be reproached. We do not see how it negatively singles out any political interest since it has uniform application.

No good government will shy away from taking tough decisions in the higher interests of the country. Buhari is showing that the man that majority of Nigerians voted into power to make a difference is still alive, kicking and in power; that he still loves Nigeria and will go the extra mile to protect their economic interests and their right to choose their leaders without undue financial intimidation.

We call on the CBN to work harder in making the new Naira and N200 banknotes more available to ease the people’s suffering. The implementation of the Naira policy must be improved. The security agencies must track down the bank staff who are responsible for diverting the new notes to politicians and moneybags. They should deal appropriately, along with those who allegedly incited mob violence which led to the loss of lives and property.

We support the Naira policy.