7th February, 2023
Tongue in cheek, the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar, made a U-turn from his willy-nilly support for the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN on Tuesday.
The PDP presidential candidate acknowledged that the initiative has led to “serious distress for businesses and cash-dependent smallholder enterprises.”
Atiku had before now supported the CBN redesign policy in spite of the difficulties being experienced by Nigerians in getting the new currency from the banks, leading to riots in some parts of the country.
In contrast, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC and the governors of the party had called on the CBN to made adjustments to the policy to alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians.
It was believed that Atiku supported the policy because he hoped to benefit from anger of Nigerians over the new policy in his quest for presidency.
The APC had described Atiku as the enemy of the people for supporting the policy which has put so many Nigerians into misery.
But in a seeming change of minds on Tuesday, Atiku pleaded with the Federal Government not to make Nigerians scapegoats in the “ongoing battle of titans over the redesign of the naira,” in a statement issued by his media aides.
But rather than blame the CBN, Atiku accused the commercial banks of trying to become stumbling blocks to “the well-thought-out policy of naira redesign.”
“It is commendable that the Federal Government has rather preferred to work behind the scenes, based on the intelligence it is believed to have received, regarding suspicions that some presidential candidates may have stashed billions of naira as war-chest for vote-buying.’’
Atiku lamented that there had been widespread anxiety across the country, arising from the poor execution of the naira redesign policy by commercial banks in the country.
“Businesses and cash-dependent smallholder enterprises are all currently in serious distress. This should be addressed urgently to save the economy from collapse.’’
According to him, he had on Jan. 28, made a crucial intervention in the redesign of the naira, calling on the Federal Government and the CBN to consider adjusting the deadline date, to address the challenges being faced by members of the public.
He re-stated that the policy was being mismanaged, unlike what was obtained in other parts of the world, where similar policies were implemented.
“Millions of Nigerians are being driven into grave desperation and despondency on account of the shortcomings of the execution of the policy”.
“In recent weeks, social tension has been growing across Nigeria on account of the poor management of the redesign of the naira policy,’’ the presidential hopeful added.