Senate, House order Sanusi to back down on N5000 note

Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto State Governor
Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto State Governor

The lawmakers are determined to put a stop to the CBN’s proposed naira re-structuring.

The Senate and the House of Representatives, in separate resolutions Tuesday, sternly rebuked the Central Bank over its plan to launch a 5000 naira note and mint coins.

The two chambers of the National Assembly in separate sittings ordered a suspension of the proposed Naira re-structuring which has caused weeks of controversy.

The House Banking and Currency Committee will now review the plan within four weeks, the Reps resolved.

The Senate rejected a similar proposal to conduct investigations; insisting the CBN proposal, which is backed by the Federal Government, is illegal and required no inquiry.

Instead, the senators argued through hours of debates, the policy should be immediately suspended.

“Not consulting with the National Assembly is a violation of section 4(2) of the constitution and section 82 of the CBN Act,” Senate spokesperson, Enyinaya Abaribe, said after the resolution was approved.

The Senate however acknowledged its resolution bore no compulsion for the president to act upon.

“We have made the resolution of the Senate known to the president, it is now left for him to decide to obey the voice of the representatives of the people or not,” Mr. Abaribe said.

The resolutions which came as the lawmakers resumed sitting on Tuesday, took an anticipated forceful tone in which lawmakers spent hours criticizing a policy that has triggered touchy debates across the country for weeks.

The CBN had rejected an earlier order from the senate Banking and Currency Committee, claiming its actions followed the law.

The policy received the Federal Government’s backing last week with the National Planning Minister, Shamsudeen Usman, declaring that the policy was irrevocable.

Senators adopted a motion sponsored by Ita Enang to address what they said was “arrogance” by the CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, who for years, has maintained a testy relationship with the two arms of the National Assembly.

At both the upper and lower house, the core of the arguments is that an introduction of a higher denomination will contradict the CBN’s cashless policy. The Lawmakers also insisted the policy will heighten an already soaring inflation.

“Waking up one morning and announcing this kind of fundamental economic policy without wide consultations is like taking Nigerians for granted,” said Ahmed Makarfi, a senator and former Kaduna State Governor.

The Lawmakers also tackled the CBN’s argument that the new notes were not planned for every Nigerian, but a select class of users.

“That was a slight,” Mr. Makarfi, who headed the Senate Finance Committee said. “It is like telling Nigerians we know you are poor and you cannot afford it.”

Smart Adeyemi, who represents Kogi state, said the comment was “immoral and ungodly.”

“If Sanusi thinks he is so intelligent with economics, he should tell Nigerians the exchange rate when he came in and now,” Mr. Adeyemi said.

At both chambers, lawmakers echoed the sentiment critics and experts have argued that the bank has failed to clearly point to the imperative of the introduction.

The House motion, sponsored by Sam Tsokwa, said the House was concerned by views that the “policy will cause hyper inflation, reduce purchasing power, currency devaluation and a widening gap between the rich and the poor.”

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