The Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) has berated the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over its conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections and also faulted the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy.
In an open letter signed by the leaders of the Forum – Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, OFR, CON – Leader; Ayo Adebanjo – Leader, Afenifere; Pogu Bitrus – President, Middle Belt Forum; Chukwuemeka Ezeife – former Governor of Anambra State and Ambassador Okey Emuchay, MFR – Secretary General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide – the group said the February 25th exercise was described as “fraudulent” by many observers.
“Mr. President should note that there has been an uneasy calm in the land and that the polity is laden with uncertainty orchestrated by the conduct and outcome of the presidential election.
“It’s hoped that Mr. President will carefully reflect on the issues raised herein and act accordingly, not only in the interest of Nigeria’s unity and stability, but the sustenance of our democratic journey as well. Your Excellency, across Nigeria, voters of all ages and groups, consider the conduct and outcome of the February 25 presidential election as fraudulent”.
It said the flaws in the presidential election came despite the amount of money budgeted for the process, adding that there is unease in the country since the exercise was conducted.
“Unfortunately, while we are imploring for peace and calm on the part of all who are dissatisfied with the conduct and outcome of the polls, and to hold forth for the judiciary to dispense justice on the matter, it seems Mr. President and the Independent National Electoral Commission, do not appreciate the mood of the country,” the letter read.
On the naira redesign policy, the SMBLF faulted the move and the Federal Government’s delay in obeying the Supreme Court order which allowed the N1,000 and N500, and N200 as legal tender until year-end. The group said the policy caused much pain to Nigerians but wondered why the government stalled in obeying the court order.
“Now, the worst part of it all was that even after the definitive ruling on the matter by the Supreme Court on 3rd March 2023, Mr. President, it took your administration and the Central Bank of Nigeria ten days, until Wednesday,13th March 2023, to issue a statement and an official circular respectively, on the matter,” the Forum said.
“At this point, it is expedient to demand that Mr. President should end all prevarications on the naira redesign policy as well as the associated cashless policy, and expressly direct the Central Bank of Nigeria to fully comply with the judgment of the Supreme Court.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should also immediately put out sufficient banknotes into circulation, to end the unwanted suffering in the country, arising from the implementation of these twin policies.”