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El-Rufai: FG Seeking Out of Court Settlement of States’ Naira Redesign Policy Suit, Says No Decision to Extend Currency Swap Deadline To April 10

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Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has revealed moves by the Federal Government to initiate discussions on an out of court settlement of the suit brought against it by some state governors, over the Naira notes swap deadline.

He was debunking a media report that President Muhammadu Buhari met governors, where the decision to extend the validity of the old Naira note till 10 April, was reached.

The governor, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser (Media & Communication), Muyiwa Adekeye, said, “rather, senior officials of the FG reached some governors, including himself, 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”, he added.

Insisting that no meeting was held this week between FG and governors, he said The Cable, “has been misled by its sources on this issue.”

Speaking further about the moves, he stated that “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 indicate 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,” he said.

The Cable had said the decision to extend the deadline is to avoid disobeying the order of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, which ruled that the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes remain valid, until it delivers judgment in the case filed by some states against the Federal Government.

It said the CBN had insisted that the deadline of 10 February would not be changed, but a senior government official told it that Buhari was worried about the hardship faced by Nigerians as well as the legal implications of disobeying the order of the constitutional court.

“The official said that this was the focus of a meeting between the President and the leadership of Nigeria Governors Forum, as well as the Progressives Governors Forum until the early hours of Wednesday.

“The governors are expected to withdraw their case at the apex court, if the arrangement goes through.

“The government official said: “The resolution was to give room for President Buhari to make concession on the monetary policy and make the following announcements public.

“One, that the old Naira notes of N1,000, N500 and N200 be allowed free movement in and out of the banks for the next 60 days.

“Two, that all three notes will be legal tender during this period, but that any old N500 or N1,000 that goes into a bank will not be sent back into circulation”.

“The official said that while others were “on the same page with the President”, the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai insisted on total cancellation of the policy.

“President Buhari, who had earlier delayed attending the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting by 40 minutes to monitor the development at the Supreme Court, was disappointed that the governors reneged on their promise to withdraw the case.

“After the FEC meeting, the President met with CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, and the Director of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, Modibbo Tukur on the need to allow all old notes circulate in the system to ease hardship on ordinary Nigerians.

“The President will not disobey court. But he is also concerned about the suffering of Nigerians and wants the to find lasting solution to it”, the official further explained to TheCable.

“It is clear that some militancy is being propagated against the people by elite who have the means to secure the new notes no matter what while the people continue to suffer.

“The President will continue to engage and see the way out of the logjam,” the medium said.

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