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‘Exclusive falsehood’, El-Rufai shoots down report on naira redesign

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has said that there was no physical meeting this week between the Federal Government and governors on the crisis…

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has said that there was no physical meeting this week between the Federal Government and governors on the crisis over the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He was reacting to a report by an online platform that the federal government during the meeting proposed conditions on the naira redesign policy, including a new deadline of April 10 for the old notes.

The platform quoted a government official as also saying the resolutions presented to members of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) included “that the old naira notes of N200 be allowed free movement in and out of the banks for the next 60 days”.

El-Rufai was said to have rejected the proposed resolutions, and insisted on a total cancellation of the naira redesign policy.

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But, reacting to the development the Kaduna governor said there was no physical meeting this week between the Federal Government and governors on the issue.

However, he admitted that senior officials of the government only reached out to some governors via telephone and made proposals.

In a statement by Muyiwa Adekeye, his spokesperson, El-Rufai said, “A few hours after the Supreme Court adjourned the currency redesign case today, a respected publication, published what it described as an exclusive story regarding the intentions of the Federal Government on the matter.

“Malam Nasir El-Rufai would like to clarify that it has been misled by its sources on this issue. There has been no meeting this week between the FG and either the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) or the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), not to talk of one lasting till the wee hours of today, Wednesday, 15 February 2023.

“Rather, senior officials of the FG reached some governors, including Malam Nasir El-Rufai, on phone to initiate discussions on a possible out of court settlement. The terms they proposed were to allow only the old N200 note to remain legal tender and be circulated by the CBN till 10 April 2023. They claimed that the CBN had already destroyed the old N500 and N1000 notes that had been deposited, but that those persons who still held the old notes could redeem them up to 10 April 2023.

“These were not considered as serious proposals, for obvious reasons. Circulating the old N200 notes alone would not be sufficient to relieve widespread human suffering in Kaduna State, and indeed in Nigeria today. They knew that and that is why they falsely claimed that the CBN had already destroyed the old N500 and N1000 notes. This is contrary to the fact available to the governors to the effect that the old notes were in the custody of commercial bank branches throughout Nigeria until the evening of Monday, February 13, and not a single N500 or N1000 had been destroyed.

“It is also a non-starter to insist on a new cut off date without first assuring that sufficient new notes would have been printed and circulated. Information available to the governors also indicates that the Mint will need at least 12 months to print the minimum amount of N1 trillion needed to ensure a functioning trade and exchange environment in Nigeria.

“The tabling of false facts, inadequate solutions to the sufferings of our people, and the bad faith that some of the FG negotiators displayed in our phone conversations and chats have now been taken further in leaking a false account and context to a respected medium. The plaintiff governors rejected the draft proposal as insincere, and invested our hopes in the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

“Malam Nasir El-Rufai will be addressing the people of Kaduna State on this currency redesign mess, the consequences of the extension of the injunction of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and related matters tomorrow. But the Kaduna State Government feels it is important tonight not to allow an exclusive falsehood to stand, or even gain the slightest traction. This statement is therefore issued to put the records straight.”

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