He is indeed one of the three progressives and bold governors who went to the Supreme Court to challenge the deadline for the Naira swap. By “progressive governors,” I mean the APC governors in Nigeria.
It is not common for politicians to find fault in either a policy or its implementation by their own government.
However, it is a disservice to the common man if the ruling party will not tell itself the truth about the people’s pulse regarding either its policy or its implementation.
No doubt, the cashless policy is a very commendable one, and, in fact, we cannot wish it away in the present dispensation.
However, the Central Bank appears to be either unprepared or in a rush to implement the policy, resulting in poor implementation and, as you can see, untold negative consequences for the economy, particularly the micro economy.
It has plunged families into a serious demand and supply crisis due to the scarcity of the new Naira notes and the poor online transactions we are witnessing as a result. What we are saying is that these crises must be fully addressed before the old naira notes are finally declared non-legal tender.
The Supreme Court ruling is a triumph for justice for ordinary Nigerians. I think the entire people of Nigeria, irrespective of political affiliations, should commend the efforts of the three governors in this regard.
According to my understanding, the purpose of going to court is not to mock anyone or undermine any interests, but to correct existing flaws in the implementation of the policy at hand.
The governor has indeed held a meeting with all the bank managers in the state. He urged them to put the interests of the people first.
He called on those who disobeyed the order of the Supreme Court to respect the highest court of the land.
As the frontline advocate of the ruling, and as the Chief Security Officer of the state, he has the right to enforce this ruling in the interest of the common man.
Hence, anybody found sabotaging these efforts has been warned to desist or get arrested and prosecuted.
No doubt, the policy is good. Sooner or later, no country in the world can survive the present world economic order without adopting this modernity.
The cashless policy is the best way to advance the economy because more money will be in the banking sector than in the hands of people. This will enable banks to finance more projects and loan out more money to businesses.
However, most countries that achieve success in this regard implement the policy in a graduated manner. The process has to be gradual, not drastic. In that way, neither the people nor the economy will suffer.
In our own case, it was brought to us in a very sudden and cumbersome manner.
To compound the matter, it has to be implemented at a critical time in our political transition.
I am sure you were a witness to the time when the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman paid a visit to the CBN Governor to register his concern as to the success of his agency’s exercise amidst this crisis.
The agency needs enough fuel to run around unhindered; it also needs cash to deal with staff movements, allowances, and other exigencies. The cash is not readily available. These are some of the issues that we are talking about.
If you go out into the streets today, you will see the answer to your question in practical terms. Instead of seeing people going about doing their normal businesses, all you see is people languishing in front of commercial banks, waiting for the banks to drizzle a few Naira notes into their Automated Teller Machines so a few people can get some.
If you go to the filling stations, you will see people fighting to get fuel at a controlled price if there is a network for them to pay with the Point of Sales terminal. If you go to the market, you see small businesses crumbling due to a lack of cash to buy their stuff; those with perishable goods are running into losses.
Civil servants no longer stay in office but go about looking for the small amount of cash needed to buy piecemeal foodstuff for their families’ daily survival.
This is the kind of hardship we have been plunged into due to the poor implementation of the cashless policy in the last few weeks.
He has always believed in the balance of justice provided by the Supreme Court. It is this belief that informed his zeal to approach it over this issue.
At a time when the country needs a reprieve from the current challenge, the Supreme Court realised that it had the responsibility to address this matter once and for all.
Before acting, the Supreme Court decided to suspend the CBN’s order to phase out old Naira notes by February 10. I think this is the way to go, and it is a decision taken in the interest of the country.
If you look at this issue dispassionately, you will realise that there is an iceberg awaiting our approaching ship on the sea. Otherwise, how can the economy roll when the new Naira notes are not available and you go ahead and mop out all the old notes in circulation?
Note that there was no gradual sensitisation and implementation of this policy. The majorities of our villagers do not have bank accounts and cannot operate mobile transactions. Some of them do not even trust the cashless transaction. Is this not a recipe for a crisis?
Again, for the elections to succeed, especially in remote rural areas, cash is required, as indicated by the INEC chairman. The cash is not readily available. Unless some people somewhere are not keen in the success of our smooth democratic transition, the issue has to be drastically addressed dispassionately.
The issue is not about personality or affiliation. Matawalle respects and reveres President Muhammadu Buhari; in fact, he considers the president as his own father. He has gotten tremendous support from President Muhammadu Buhari in his fight against banditry in the state.
The three governors did not go to court to challenge the policy of the federal government but to challenge poor implementation by the CBN.
I don’t want to call it a lingering crisis. It is a problem that is about to be solved. The action of the three governors must not be misconstrued as a confrontation but as a pathway to solving the problem at hand. I am sure when the court sits on February 15, a workable solution will follow and replace the present quagmire.
This is the nature of humans. Whatever your efforts to uplift people, you will find among them those who want to be dropped down. They will smear your name and your image. If you recall, not long ago, the same allegation was made, and even the name of Governor Matawalle was mentioned by some online news media.
What came out of that allegation? There is nothing to prove!