S/Court Judgment: FG Should Avoid 'Executive Lawlessness' now

By Starrys Obazei | March 6, 2023

Since February 16, the Federal Government, FG and the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, had been displaying ‘executive lawlessness’ to the interim injunction of the Supreme Court on old naira notes.

The CBN’s obstinacy and the FG’s alleged ‘autocracy’ in a democratic setting have brought wanton deprivations on cash-strapped citizens whose businesses are also falling apart.

The naira redesign policy has really brought unprecedented hardship on Nigerians generally, it is now reasonably expected that Buhari will speedily step in to save the economy and unfortunate Nigerians.

Three wise state governors of Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara states saw the calamity coming and sought the intervention of the apex court to stop it but it seems unstoppable with the defiant stance of the government.

However, on March 3, 2023, the Supreme Court’s final judgment that the old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1000 should remain as legal tender along with the new naira notes until December 31 is full of reasonableness and international best practices.

This judgment has given hope to the generality of Nigerians who had been feeling wantonly oppressed, suppressed and even compressed by the scarcity of naira notes after the February 10 naira swap deadline of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Buhari had on February 16 countered the Supreme Court injunction of February 8, ordering that N500 and N1000 would no longer be legal tender and N200 legal until April 10.

What was most baffling was that the Supreme Court spoke before Buhari, but the generality of Nigerians refused to accept old N500 and N1000 notes.

Even business people in local markets would defend the rejection of old naira notes, saying, ‘Baba has spoken.” They chose to obey Buhari instead of the apex court.

Speaking about the Federal Government’s stance, the lawyer representing the Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara state governments in the suit against the Federal Government over the circulation of old naira notes, Adulhakeem Mustapha, called the contempt on Supreme Court by CBN and FG “executive lawlessness.”

Now that the Supreme Court had spoken finally on the legality of old naira notes, will the CBN and FG avoid executive lawlessness this time?

The untold hardship on Nigerians had reached an unbearable stage that irate youth went on a rampage burning the banks in Sagamu and other places. The executive lawlessness and the senseless destruction by the youth could have been avoided if Baba (Buhari) and his boy (Emefiele) had not defied the court order.

Again, those dependent on cash-driven businesses began earning little income or nothing at all.

Both big and small businesses started dwindling. Even Nigerian banks hard hit and out of operation became further maligned as their minimal engagements in financial transfers were found ill-equipped and inefficient.

For seamless financial transfers, young ones confessed on Instagram that they tested all banks and found OPay, Standard Chartered and Stanbic-IBTC to be the best options.

Now that the Supreme Court had spoken on March 3, this is an opportunity for Emefiele to solve his naira redesign policy fiasco since he did not print enough new notes.

He was said to have printed 400 or 500 billion of the new notes and he had reportedly mopped up N2.1 trillion in old notes.

Though fiercely trying to enact the financial transfer (cashless) culture, experiences from even advanced countries showed he would have moved softly instead of rushing to unwittingly or ignorantly destroy the Nigerian economy.

When the United Nations, World Bank and International Monetary Fund, IMF proffered their advice that both the new and old notes should circulate for about a year together, people thought that CBN and FG would yield.

But no, they chose to punish the politicians along with millions of Nigerians.

Both Buhari and Emefiele did not hide what they were pursuing: to stop politicians from getting enough cash for vote-buying and preventing kidnappers from getting paid millions for ransom.

But should the people and businesses be sacrificed because of the above ‘good’ reasons?

All said and done, to save the economy and stop Nigerians from suffering unnecessarily, may reasonableness return to the naira redesign policy implementation.

Emefiele and his boss, Buhari should speak up, positively complying with the Supreme Court Judgment NOW!

Starrys Obazei is the Managing Editor of DDNewsonline.

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