The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), on Friday, urged citizens to give him seven days to resolve the cash crunch that has become a problem across the country from the Central Bank of Nigeria policy to change high-value naira notes with new ones.
Speaking to the Progressive Governors’ Forum who paid him a visit at the Presidential Villa to seek solutions to the cash crunch which they said was threatening the good records of the administration in transforming the economy, Buhari said the currency re-design would give a boost to the economy and provide long-term benefits. He expressed doubts about the commitment of banks in particular to the success of the policy. “Some banks are inefficient and only concerned about themselves”, said the President, “even if a year is added, problems associated with selfishness and greed won’t go away.”
He said he had seen television reports about cash shortages and hardship to local businesses and ordinary people and gave assurances that the balance of seven of the 10-day extension would be used to crack down on whatever stood in the way of successful implementation.
“I will revert to the CBN and the minting company. There will be a decision one way or the other in the remaining seven days of the 10-day extension,” the President was quoted to have said in a statement released by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.
The governors told the President that while they agreed that his decision on the currency redesign was good and that they were fully in support, its execution had been botched and their constituents were becoming increasingly upset.
They told the President that, as leaders of the government and party in their different states, they were becoming anxious about a slump in the economy and the series of elections that are coming.
They requested the President to use his powers to direct the concurrent flourish of the new and old notes till the end of the year.
The President said when he considered giving approval to the policy, he demanded an undertaking from the CBN that no new notes would be printed in a foreign country and they, in turn, gave him assurances that there was enough capacity, manpower and equipment to print the currency for local needs. He said he needed to go back to find out what was actually happening.
Buhari told the governors that, being closer to the people, he had heard their cries and would act in a way that there will be a solution.