It’s eight days to the presidential election but the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is in a state of turmoil over naira redesign. The party that was underrated but ended up stopping the 16-year “unbeaten run” of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is apparently not prepared for continuity after President Muhammadu Buhari or how does one explain the ongoing mutiny over a controversial monetary policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria?
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Presidential Candidate of the ruling party, set the tone for the crisis currently tearing at the heart of the party, with his protest in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, last month. Not a few persons were taken aback when Tinubu, who went for a campaign in Egba land, went into a tirade.
He had said naira redesign and fuel scarcity were targeted at him.
“They don’t want this election to hold. They want to sabotage it (elections). Will you allow them?”, Tinubu asked the teeming supporters at the rally, to which they responded “No.”
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He, however, vowed that Nigerians would defy fuel scarcity and trek to cast their votes.
His words, “Even if they said there is no fuel, we will trek to vote. They have a lot of mischief; they could say there is no fuel. They have been scheming to create fuel crisis, but forget about it. Relax, I, Asiwaju, have told you that the issue of fuel supply will be permanently addressed. Let them increase the price of fuel, only them know where they have hoarded fuel, they hoarded money, they hoarded naira; we will go and vote and we will win. Even if they changed the ink on Naira notes. Whatever their plans, it will come to nought. We are going to win.”
As the deadline for the implementation of new naira notes drew near, APC governors met with Buhari to persuade him to relax the naira policy over the hardship in the country. Although the president listened to them, he asked for seven days to act but few days after, three APC governors filed a suit at the Supreme Court to challenge the Federal Government. More governors of the party subsequently joined the suit.
Critics of the party mocked them while the opposition intensified its campaign to wrest power from APC in next week’s election. On its part, the Supreme Court granted an interim injunction to restrain CBN from implementing the February 15 deadline of old naira notes’ circulation.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, who was linked to the APC Presidential race, had insisted that the deadline was valid, deepening confusion among the citizens as violence erupted in different parts of the country over the inability to access new notes and the rejection of old notes.
Buhari had addressed the nation while sympathising with the masses. However, the president ordered that only old N200 notes should be allowed to circulate while old N500 and N1000 were no longer legal tender.
As expected, civil society groups and government critics kicked against Buhari’s action, which was described as disrespectful to the highest court in the land. Surprisingly, APC chieftains started turning the heat on Buhari over the president’s stance.
Expressing anger, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje said it was unfortunate that despite the collective efforts put together to ensure Buhari’s victory after several losses, the president allegedly resolved to pay the party and those that supported him back by destroying the APC in the wake of the elections.
Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, likened Buhari’s action to “wanton disregard for the rule of law”.
But the most shocking happens to be that of El-Rufai who asked residents of Kaduna to disobey Buhari’s directive on the naira.
In a broadcast on Thursday night, El-Rufai who had earlier asked petty traders in the state not to change the old currency they had, said until the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, old N500 and N1000 notes would remain legal tender in the state he governs. Clearly, the ruling party is divided on the eve of elections. To put it as it is, APC is demarketing itself.