By Adetokunbo Fakeye
Nigeria - A former Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes and international human rights lawyer, Hon. Kayode Oladele, has called on President Mohammadu Buhari to take immediate action towards ameliorating the untold hardships currently being experienced by Nigerians as a result of the challenges associated with the scarcity of redesigned Naira notes across the country.
Oladele, the Southwest Secretary of the Tinubu/Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, PCC’s Directorate of Grassroots Engagement and Orientation, who made the call in a statement he issued in Lagos at weekend added, "this is not the first attempt by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign Naira notes but there was no time in the past excises when Nigerians were ever confronted with the level of" frustration and hardships" occasioned by non-availability of the redesigned Naira notes which is "capable of scuttling our hard-earned democracy.
"Banks are not paying across the counter, ATMs are not dispensing cash and desperation has forced many people to negotiate and buy Naira notes in the black market where they have to pay extra money on top of the amount they want, at least, to put food on their tables and take care of their children, the sick and the aged. This is hellish, to say the least".
While he agreed that the policy trust behind the CBN’s action might be good in the long run if properly implemented, he condemned the handling and implementation of the policy and other logistics, which he described as "crude and falling short of international best practices akin only to economic sabotage, terrorism and an attempt to undermine Buhari’s legacy and our democratic process. It is simply barbaric, chaotic and hellish to say the least".
Barrister Oladele warned that Nigeria cannot afford any mass protests at this critical time when the country is preparing for general elections and when the attention of the whole international community is fixed on Nigeria.
While calling on Mr President to consider people’s hardships and extend the 10-day grace he had earlier granted for the Naira swap deadline, he said, "Our democracy is a product of collective struggle, particularly the down-trodden against tyranny and oppression. Some people lay down their lives for the country to get to where we are today as a people; therefore, we must see its preservation as our collective responsibility as well. Be that as it may, Nigerians will not allow opportunists to truncate their democracy".
"The buck stops at the President’s table, he is the symbol of our sovereignty and democracy, not the CBN Governor. This is why I’m appealing to him to use his good offices and intervene in the overall best interests of the nation. The stakes are very high and I believe the President will put the interest of the people far and above all other policy considerations", he stated.