In a direct challenge to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, has asked residents of the state to accept the old N500 and N1000 notes as legal tender.
Mr El-Rufai gave the directive in a broadcast to residents of the state on Thursday night.
During the broadcast, Mr El-Rufai described the naira redesign policy as a weapon by members of the ruling party and close allies of President Buhari bent on stopping the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, from winning the 25 February election.
Describing the policy as “mindless”, Mr El-Rufai said it has caused untold hardship for ordinary people of the state, who he said are victims of the policy.
“The sad fact is that the victims of these mindless policies are the people that elected us. It is their welfare that is being threatened. Many of our people have been left in a situation where the money they put in banks has literally been confiscated, depriving them of the ability to buy food and basic necessities. Our traders cannot sell as much as they used to because their customers have no access to their hard-earned money,” he said.
He said President Buhari was deceived by the leadership of the Central Bank to accept the narrative that the policy was meant to check politicians who amassed huge cash to buy votes during the elections.
The governor also said the policy was orchestrated by some members of the ruling party who lost out at the party’s presidential primary and are now desperate to frustrate the parry and its candidates.
“It is important for the people of Kaduna State, and indeed Nigeria, to know that contrary to the public pronouncements and apparent good intentions, this policy was conceived and sold to the President by officials who completely lost out in the Gubernatorial and Presidential Primaries of the APC in June 2022.
“Once Asiwaju Bola Tinubu emerged as the candidate in June 2022, and subsequently did not pick one of them as his running mate, this currency redesign policy was conceived to ensure that the APC presidential candidate is deprived of what they alleged is a humongous war chest,” he said.
Mr El-Rufai therefore directed residents of the state to continue accepting the N500 and N1000 notes as legal tender.
“For the avoidance of doubt, all the old and new notes shall remain in use as legal tender in Kaduna State until the Supreme Court of Nigeria decides otherwise,” he said.
“I, therefore, appeal to all residents of Kaduna State to continue to use the old and new notes side by side without any fear. The Kaduna State Government and its agencies shall seal any facility that refuses to accept the old notes as legal tender and prosecute the owners. If need be, we shall take further consequential actions according to the law.”
He assured residents of the state that they would not lose their money in the old naira notes.
“On behalf of the Kaduna State Government, I wish to assure you that none of you would lose the money you have in old notes. Let no artificial and illegal deadline frighten you. Whether you live in towns, villages or in our isolated rural communities, do not feel stampeded to deposit your old notes in the banks. Hold on to them. Continue to use them as legal tender as ordered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. No deadline can render them worthless, ever. The law is on your side. The Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 and the Bills of Exchange Act, both oblige the CBN to recognise your old notes and give you value in new notes whenever you bring them to the CBN, even in the next 100 years.
“Therefore, as your governor, I wish to assure you that the Kaduna State Government, in collaboration with elected legislators, traditional institution, elected local government councils, markets, and traders associations will help you collect, record, document, collate and deliver all your old notes to the Kaduna branch of the Central Bank on your behalf into the new ones immediately after the elections. We will also ensure the delivery of your new notes to your various locations without any hardship or expense on your part. We shall save you any panic and the stress of a long journey from your community to the CBN office in our state capital, from March until December 2023 if need be,” he said.
The governor’s directive is a direct affront to the directive of President Buhari on Thursday morning which limits the legal tender of the naira to include the N200 notes.
Mr Buhari’s directive was in clear violation of the order of Nigeria’s Supreme Court which stated that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes should remain legal tender until the determination of a suit brought before it by Mr El-Rufai and some state governors.
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