Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has finally fallen out with President Muhammadu Buhari, who he had strongly supported all along.
He publicly countered Buhari’s Thursday morning nationwide broadcast wherein the President re-affirmed his support and approval of the Naira re-design policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Buhari had directed that only N200 old currency note be allowed to remain a legal tender along with the new notes until April 10 and foreclosed the legality of old N500 and N1000 notes.
Pained by the President’s position, El-Rufai, who was among the Governors that dragged the Federal Government to the Supreme Court over the policy, accused Buhari of flagrant violation of Court order.
El-Rufai in his own address to Kaduna people later in the day, faulted Buhari’s nationwide address.
He accused the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, of misleading the President.
“The address by the President earlier this (Thursday) morning limiting the legal tender status of old notes to only N200 amounts to total disregard and disobedience of the ruling of February 8 which was extended further yesterday (Wednesday) by the Supreme Court.
“The misguided action of the Attorney-General to mislead the President into engaging in this public violation of the order of the highest court of the land shows how desperate the policy architects are to cause national chaos, by showing open contempt for the judiciary.
“The decision to recognise only N200 as legal tender till April that the President announced this morning was offered to the state governments as part of proposals for an out-of-court settlement three days ago.”
El-Rufai, considered one of Buhari’s strong men, accused some people he said lost the presidential ticket of the APC of plotting to scuttle the forthcoming elections by inciting Nigerians against the ruling party.
He claimed that the scarcity of petrol and cash was one of the grand designs to pitch members of the public against the APC, and ultimately ruin the chances of the APC presidential candidate in the forthcoming poll.
El-Rufai also claimed that the on-going pains in the land following the naira re-design was aimed at creating chaos to prepare the ground for a military takeover.
“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.
“They also sought to achieve any one or more of the following objectives: create a nationwide shortage of cash so that citizens are incited to vote against APC candidates across the board resulting in massive losses for the party in all the elections; ensure that the cash crunch is so serious, along with the contrived and enduring fuel shortage existing since September 2022, that the 2023 elections do not hold at all, leading to an Interim National Government to be led by a retired Army General; sustain the climate of shortage of fuel, food and other necessities, leading to mass protests, violence and breakdown of law and order that would provide a fertile foundation for a military take-over.”
“In pursuit of the objectives, the Central Bank of Nigeria and other disgruntled federal officials had convinced the President that it was fine for ordinary citizens to be dispossessed of their hard-earned money, and starved if need be, while small and medium-sized businesses were deprived of access to their capital, thereby bringing trade and exchange to a grinding halt.”
El-Rufai insisted that the naira re-design policy was targeted at the poor masses, claiming that presidential candidates are the political elite will always have unfettered access to cash.
“Indeed, two of the presidential candidates and a running mate of the opposition parties own or have preferred access to some of the licensed banks. For that reason and by various clandestine arrangements, these politicians have access to hundreds of millions of these new notes, while the traders, merchants, students and other citizens are queuing for days to withdraw a few thousand naira just to buy food and necessaries.
“Within two to three weeks of implementation, it was clear to everyone that the architects of this policy can see that it is our people that are being affected and not the politicians. It is quite unfortunate that many politicians who either own banks or have privileged access to money are so insulated from the pains of talakawa that they are recklessly endorsing a policy that is being badly implemented.”