February 6, 2023

Naira Scarcity: Obi, obidiently not with suffering masses like Tinubu – Onoh

The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential spokesman, Dr. Josef Onoh has accused the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi of not feeling the pulse of the masses by taking sides with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the country’s present travail of Naira scarcity.

Onoh also described it as insensitive and a mark of policy failure for the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele to have asked bank depositors who came to withdraw their money to stay in queues and canopies in bank premises.

Obi had in a television interview said that the CBN policy was aimed at a long-term effect on the nation’s economy, while he urged for restraint in the criticism against the apex and commercial banks.

Onoh however took offence at Obi’s choice of mild words against the CBN, stating that Obi treated the national crisis with leniency because he (Obi) plays elitism against the poor masses unlike his APC counterpart, Bola Tinubu, whom he said is on the ground with Nigerian masses.

According to Onoh, the LP presidential candidate by his comments “is obidently in support of the hardship that has occasioned Emefiele’s naira redesign,” noting that it’s only Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who has stood up against the current naira crisis in the country.

He stated that Obi’s comment failed to capture the level of hardship and crucifixion of Nigerians on the cross of hopelessness that they are subjected to and also failed to show empathy for the suffering masses.

Demonstrating an instance of the CBN’s harsh policy, Onoh cited the case of the artisan women on daily profits of N100 but are expected to make same in bank deposits where a stamp duty charge of N50 will be deducted from such poor persons account for any withdrawal or deposit, clearly, this is a wicked and unprogressive economic policy.

“This is robbing the poor because the CBN policy applies to such categories of people. The hardship is real, Nigerians are crying and it’s sad that Peter Obi’s statement is basically in support of the hardship Nigerians are facing. His statement on the issue to Nigerians is similar to that of Marie Antoinette of France, who, in 1789, during one of the famines in France during the reign of her husband, King Louis XVI, when told that the peasants had no bread, replied: “Then let them eat cake.” and that is why I said that Asiwaju is the only person who has been sincere because this implementation has nothing to do with politics, but a personal vindictive attack by someone who could not attain his desire,” Onoh said.

He repeated that one of the aims of the naira redesign has been defeated since the terrorists were now in possession of the new notes, whereas the national security agents and the general public remain in its lack.

Citing the case of the United States of America (USA), dollar redesigns, Onoh said that the U.S. redesigns its currency to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats and keep counterfeiting levels low, whereas such is not the same as the Emefiele naira redesign project.

“For instance, the U.S Federal Reserve, together with their partners at their Treasury Department, its Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the United States Secret Service, continuously monitor the counterfeiting threats for each denomination of US currency and make redesign decisions based on these threats. An inter-agency committee makes recommendations on design changes to the Secretary of the Treasury, who has final authority for the U.S. currency designs.

“But the same can’t be said of the Emefiele naira redesign which according to him as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, one of the factors that influenced his redesign of the naira notes is the significant hoarding of banknotes by members of the public. Emefiele said that statistics showed that over 80 percent of currency in circulation was outside the vaults of commercial banks.

“As at the end of September 2022, available data at the CBN allegedly indicated that N2.73 trillion out of the N3.23 trillion currency in circulation, was outside the vaults of commercial banks across the country; and supposedly held by the public, and today the public are suffering,” Onoh lamented.

The US Federal Reserve Board currently issues seven denominations of dollar notes, which include $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. According to information available on the website of the US Currency Education Programme, the last design of the $100 note issued on October 8, 2013, is the latest denomination to be redesigned.

“But the process and its implementation didn’t subject Americans to the type of financial distress and crisis the Emefiele-led CBN has subjected Nigerians to. Even the $1 note, issued in 1963 and featuring former President George Washington, has never been changed till today. The difference between the Emefiele-led CBN naira redesign and that of other developed countries is that whereas all US currency remains legal tender regardless of when it was issued, in Emefiele’s Nigeria, the revision becomes the case.

“So if CBN is asking Nigerians to return the old naira notes and has it redeemed by banks, it remains a legal tender until they stop its production. This is the reason why I said that Emefiele’s-led CBN naira redesign implementation is a political vendetta and serving a personal goal because he failed to get the APC presidential ticket,” Onoh alleged