The Federal Government on Tuesday said “unscrupulous” opposition politicians have “legally hamstrung” President Muhammadu Buhari from providing any relief to Nigerians on the scarcity of N200, N500 and N1,000 bank notes.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed stated this at the 23rd Edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration Scorecard in Abuja.
He said the opposition parties have turned the scarcity of new naira notes to a political game, “preferring to make Nigerians suffer more on the altar of unconscionable political gamesmanship”.
The pandemonium over the February 10 deadline for the validity of three old naira notes assumed another dimension on Monday as five political parties and three state governments begun legal battles.
Whilst the Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara governments dragged the Federal government before the Supreme Court, seeking an extension to the February 10 deadline, five political parties took the matter to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court and secured an order barring the Federal Government and the apex bank from any extension of the deadline.
The CBN on October 26, 2022, announced its plan to redesign the three banknotes. The President subsequently unveiled the redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes on November 23, 2022, while the apex bank fixed a January 31 deadline for the validity of the old notes.
The CBN also pegged its weekly cash withdrawal limits to N500,000 for individuals and N5m for corporate firms.
With cries by many Nigerians, the apex bank extended the deadline from January 31 to February 10, saying it got the approval of the President.
Buhari on Friday after a meeting with some APC governors asked for seven days to make a major decision on the policy.
Mohammed, on Tuesday, said, “Recall, ladies and gentlemen, that after his meeting with Progressives’ Governors on Friday, Mr. President Buhari urged citizens to give him a seven-day window to resolve the currency crunch that has emanated from the implementation of the Naira redesign policy.
“Unfortunately, on Monday (yesterday), some opposition political parties ran to court to obtain an injunction restraining Mr. President and the CBN from extending the Feb. 10 deadline for Nigerians to exchange their old notes for new ones. The court action came after a number of opposition parties threatened to boycott the 2023 general elections if the deadline was extended.
“These curious actions by the parties concerned is clear evidence that the opposition has turned this whole issue into a political game, preferring to make Nigerians suffer more on the altar of an unconscionable political gamesmanship.
“Or how else can one explain the fact that these unscrupulous opposition parties do not want any action that could reduce the pains being experienced by Nigerians?
“How else can one explain the fact that they have decided to legally hamstring Mr. President, in particular, from providing any relief for Nigerians suffering from the cash crunch?
“It is bad politics when you put the interest of desperate political parties over and above that of Nigerians, the same Nigerians whose votes you earnestly seek.”
The minister said despite the “bad politicking” by opposition parties, the government is willing and able to take decisive steps to bring succour to Nigerians in the shortest possible time.