Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
Ebonyi State Government has approved the distribution of palliatives to residents to cushion the effects of hardships caused by the currency redesign policy of the Federal Government.
The State governor, David Umahi stated this on Friday in Abakaliki, the state capital during an expanded State Security Council Meeting.
The governor reiterated his support for President Muhammadu Buhari over the policy and appealed to the people to be patient with the administration.
He expressed hope that the suffering and hardship occasioned by the policy will soon end and called for out of Court settlement by the Federal Government and the various state governments who challenged the policy in court.
Mr Umahi noted that security agencies have beefed up security at all bank premises in the State and warned against attacking the banks.
“Let me thank the Security Agencies who preempted what would have been protest and violent disruption of the peace of Ebonyi State especially at the Central Bank premises and at other Commercial Banks.
“My dear brothers and sisters of Ebonyi State, I am aware of the policy of the new naira redesign and I am aware of the challenges such decision are posing especially to Ebonyi State where we have over eighty percent of bankable small business owners.”
Mr Umahi while stating that President Buhari has very good intentions for which he initiated the policy noted that he is aware of the hardship that the policy is presently posing to the well-being of the people.
“So I appeal to everyone especially the market women and men who are very badly affected knowing that our markets have been closed down for sometimes now in terms of the level of activities, I am aware that some people that went there to buy tomatoes they insisted that they must have cash, such cash are not available.
“I want to appeal to CBN, to treat us like other States because these new monies are not in Ebonyi State, people go to queue, some have queued in the various banks for 72hours, some go there by 1am, this is not palatable for us”
“We should be better treated, while we do so, I appeal to our people to shun any form of violence and I have directed the CP and other Security Chiefs to station permanently in all the Financial Institutions and CBN in particular and to deal decisively with anybody who wants to tamper with the personnel of these Banks or the infrastructure.”
The governor said violent protests is not the best way to express unhappiness over the policy pointing out that the state government has rolled out a number of policies to address their problems.
“I have approved the request of the Local Government Chairmen to use the Federal Government Social Security Register to assist Ebonyi people in terms of relief materials both in transfer to their accounts and also to buy materials for them.
He said the distribution must be done on a non partisan basis and must reach most of the religious and nonreligious leaders, market men and women.
Umahi explained that the distribution will be continuous till April only stopping a few days to both the Presidential and governorship elections.
The governor also suspended the locking of shops of traders for non-payment of rents and purchase of shops at the International market and all markets and parks which he had earlier directed.
“This is to further alleviate the sufferings of our people, we are also waiving taxes for the next 30 days to our small business owners.
“We have directed the State Government officials to do everything possible including giving assistance to petroleum marketers to ensure that they have enough fuel in the State, these are all we are doing to alleviate the sufferings of our people,” he said.
The governor also ordered the re-opening of the Scrap Market even as he warmed the operators to stop buying and selling excavated cables, rods and other materials vandalised and stolen from government infrastructure and installations.
“Point of Sale (POS) Agents and operators are hereby warned to desist from excessive charges which is inflicting more pains on the citizenry. I have also directed Security Agents to arrest and prosecute anyone collecting above the normal charges,” he warned.
“I am very confident that the present hardship will not continue as Mr. President and the Supreme Court will definitely find amicable settlement and indeed the Governors to resolve these problems so that our people will have to smile again.”
“I must continue to commend Mr. President for his good heart and for good intentions for the people of Nigeria, however, every Leader when policies are intended for good must review it and that is what Mr. President is doing and we appeal to him to do more until an average Nigerian will go to the Bank and withdraw money even if it is in lower denominations to meet his/her needs.
“The pains will always continue to be there, so let me use the opportunity to appeal to Mr. President to please do more and to canvass for out of Court settlement,” he added.