The Naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has brought mass suffering to the citizens of the country while the economy is in danger, the Lagos State House of Assembly has lamented.
The lawmakers further noted that even though the policy was a good one, its timing was wrong as it had further thrown the country into economic chaos which could become difficult to resolve if urgent steps are not taken.
The CBN had announced a 10-day extension of the deadline for currency swaps at the weekend, but at a sitting presided over by Speaker Mudashiru Obasa on Tuesday, the lawmakers urged the CBN to extend the deadline for currency swap as the policy had not helped the country.
Dr Obasa noted that the concern of the lawmakers had to do with the pains, anguish and anger spreading among Nigerians over their inability to access the new currency.
“Economists have said most times you cannot use new currency to control inflation, it doesn’t achieve the purpose most times,” Obasa said adding that the intention of the policy as claimed by CBN had been defeated owing to the various complaints from experts and people across the country.
The Speaker said the CBN should have engaged stakeholders while citizens should have been adequately carried along rather than an ‘overnight’ policy by the CBN.
“There are people in the rural areas. The additional 10 days are not even going to be enough.
“The idea is a good one but the way it is being implemented will hurt the people.
“We need to commend the National Assembly for showing quality representation and prompt action to intervene for an extension of the deadline.”
The Speaker said that in other countries, old currencies are not discarded in a rush, but allowed to gradually fade out of the system.
Hon. Rotimi Olowo, the lawmaker representing Somolu Constituency 1 who moved the motion, sought an extension of the deadline till July 2023 in line with the resolution of the National Assembly, while noting the suffering the policy had brought on Nigerians.
Olowo complained about the unavailability of the new notes and the effect on the people, including small business owners and those in rural areas.
Contributing to the motion, Hon. Saka Solaja, chairman of the House committee on public account for the state, argued that financial policies are not implemented the way the CBN had gone about the Naira redesign.
“We see videos of people beating themselves mercilessly at ATMs, yet there is no money,” he lamented while supporting the call for an extension of the deadline by the CBN.
On his part, Hon. Richard Kasunmu (Ikeja II) argued that the timing of the policy was not right, especially as the country was still grappling with challenges of effective internet connectivity.
He recalled how he spent five hours a day earlier trying to make an electronic transfer of ₦55,000 to resolve an emergency.
“We should be looking at the larger Nigerian people. If we want to survive the Nigerian economy, this should not be a good time for such policy,” he said.
While Hon. Victor Akande (Ojo 1), argued that Emefiele breached a part of the CBN Act concerning the policy, Hon. Setonji David noted: “All over the world, CBN governors are economists, not bankers like Emefiele.
“Our people are suffering and the money can’t be found at the ATMs. If you go to the ATMs, you would see how people are struggling,” he lamented.
The motion was passed by the Speaker after a voice vote of all the members at the sitting.