Supreme Court ruling: Demonstrate your democratic credential on Naira swap, Lukman tells Buhari

CBN governor Godwin Emefiele presents new naira notes to President Muhammadu Buhari

A member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Mallam Salihu Moh Lukman, has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate his democratic credential by respecting the ruling of the Supreme Court on the Naira swap deadline.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday had canceled the CBN’s February 10 deadline to end the validity of the old Naira notes as demanded by the APC government of Kogi, Kaduna and Zamfara states.

Reacting to the development through a statement titled ‘Cashless Economy and Presidential Cabal’, released Thursday in Abuja, Lukman, who is also APC North-west zonal chairman said if the cable’s objective “is to frustrate the February 25, 2023 elections by either creating conditions that could mobilise electorates to vote against the APC and its candidates, especially Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, God willing it shall not succeed.

“As a member of APC, I can say with every confidence, this wouldn’t have been the objective. It is however worrisome how our party leaders are unable to convince Mr. President to have a rethink about the implementation of this policy. This has created all manner of frustrations both with the APC, across the country and across all segments of society.

“The only person that possibly is not frustrated with the policy is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Presidential candidate of the PDP who is supporting the policy, which is why many people argue that the ‘cabal’ around the President want Atiku Abubakar to win the election.”

The APC chieftain said there are also other strong narratives about internal sabotage within APC based on how some powerful forces around President Muhammadu Buhari are opposed to the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC Presidential candidate as the next President.

According to the APC chieftain, God willing Asiwaju Tinubu’s APC government must be a remarkable improvement on President Buhari’s government whereby party leaders will through all our organs as provided in our constitution effectively and efficiently take all necessary decisions, which would be respected by Asiwaju Tinubu as President, God willing, and all elected representatives.

“In all of these, it needs to be clearly stated that throughout the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari, nothing tests his credential as a converted democrat more than the need to demonstrate more listening ears and compassion at the plight of Nigerians. As a converted democrat, which I believe he is, President Muhammadu Buhari needs to demonstrate that by respecting the Supreme Court judgement and direct the CBN to end the current madness that imposes Naira scarcity in the country and untold hardship for millions of Nigerians.

“For both APC, as a party, and Nigeria, as a nation, one of the lessons that the current reality imposes is the need to develop our political parties and make them capable of regulating the conduct of elected functionaries. This is not only the case with APC, but also the case with all our parties. Why should we have a challenge with grave consequences on the electoral fortunes of political parties, yet none of the parties contesting the 2023 elections have convened any emergency meeting of their National Executive Committee (NEC)? Yet, we want elections to produce accountable leaders. Once party organs have seized to be decision making platforms, the domineering control of government institutions by so-called cabals will remain strong.

“Moving Nigerian democracy forward require all of us as Nigerians to be much more honest beyond some partisan permutations about winning elections. As members of APC, we are working hard to win the 2023 elections, but we also will work even more harder to ensure that our next government to be led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will come with more listening ears to Nigerians and fellow party leaders.”

Lukman said people have raised concerns about how combination of cash squeeze and fuel scarcity being experienced in every part of the country can lead to unrest and possible postponement of the election.

“Some have even speculated that all these are aimed at creating a situation that would lead to the enthronement of a so-called government of national unity, whatever that means.

“The reality, however, is that only about 39% of Nigerians have bank accounts. More than 300 out of the 774 Local Governments in the country have no bank branches or cash centres. Where they exist, the bank branches and cash centres are mostly located in the headquarters. Specifically, in terms of cash centres, total number of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in the country is less than 20,000.

“These records suggest the needs to take more extra steps to strengthen the banking system in the country to meet up of the new demands that will be occasioned by the new policy. It will clearly require contingency measures to expand the banking system, such that citizens could exchange the old notes in locations that don’t have bank branches or cash centres such as ATMs.

“Given that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November 2021 reported that Nigeria’s banks closed 234 branches and 649, ATMs, should have given a strong warning that the principles of ceteris paribus (all conditions remaining the same) would translate to failure for the new policy.

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