·Says implementation is political, harsh on the mases
By Wisdom Nwachukwu-Ohaegbule
Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State does not seen to be against the naira redesign as a concept but what he terms ‘shoddy implementation’ by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), saying this has brought huge hardship on the masses.
He also said it has worsened the living condition of the poor in society.
Wike stressed that the essence of government and its agency such as CBN is not to inflict hardship on the masses, but to cushion it.
He made this remarks during the official presentation of letter of nomination on the “award of Independent Man of the Year 2022,” on him by the management of Independent Newspapers, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Tuesday.
The Rivers State governor informed that Nigerians are suffering as a result of the tactless implementation of the naira swap policy, and urged government to urgently ameliorate the condition of the people.
The CBN has continued to say they are not doing naira swap or restructure but redesign. The CBN also says it is pushing for a cashlite economy, meaning people should deposit cash and use mostly other instruments to transact.
Wike however said; “We are in a difficult situation now. It doesn’t matter what anybody may say. The truth must be told at all times. Nigerians are suffering now and as a people we owe that responsibility to cushion the level of hardship that Nigerians are facing, we are not to worsen the situation.”
He said; “Nobody says, and let it be on record that there is nothing wrong with redesigning our naira. What we are saying is the implementation will not help, rather it will aggravate the condition that people face, particularly the poor people.”
He said those who insist that the naira swap policy will curb corruption and eliminate vote buying during the general election are not sincere. According to him, “The whole thing is been political, and that is not what it is supposed to be.”
Gov Wike, said it is regrettable the CBN has failed to emulate the global best practice in its implementation of the naira swap policy. He stressed that ideally the CBN should have allowed the old notes to be in circulation alongside the new notes for at least one year before it is completely phased out.
“You have also not made the new one available and then you have said we can’t collect the old one again. Now, you that even have money in the bank, you’re not allowed to even collect your money.”
The governor observed that those who are advocating that Nigerians should embrace internet banking have failed to take into cognizance the fact that vast majority of the citizens, particularly in the rural areas, don’t have bank accounts.
Gov Wike charged the media not to be indifferent to the prevailing situation in the country because it has a vital role to play in the peoples’ quest for actualisation of a just and equitable nation.
Earlier, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Independent Newspapers, Steve Omanufeme, said Gov Wike was nominated for the award for his dogged fight for justice, equity and fairness.
Omanufeme said Wike has become the voice of the voiceless in the country and expressed confidence that history will be fair to him.