Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has urged the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to obey the Supreme Court ruling on the old Naira notes in order to ameliorate the suffering occasioned by the cash crunch on Nigerians.
The Bayelsa governor said going by the March 3 ruling of the country’s apex court, the old and new currency notes ought to circulate side by side till December 31 this year.
Senator Diri stated this on Monday in Government House, Yenagoa, during an interactive meeting with leadership of various unions and associations of transporters, traders and petroleum marketers in the state.
The governor said with the ruling of the apex court on the matter, Nigerians expected the federal government and the CBN to speedily implement and enforce the judgement.
Unfortunately, he noted that the lack of direction by the federal government and the apex bank had hampered the implementation of the Naira redesign policy and the ruling of the highest court of the land.
His words: “Clearly, when the Supreme Court has ruled on a matter, it is final. And we expect that the federal government and the CBN will implement the ruling of the Supreme Court.
“If this had to do with our own constitutional authority as a state government, we will do it. Constitutionally, states have no power over currency and monetary matters and cannot therefore issue directives on them except they want to play to the gallery.”
Describing the Naira redesign and currency swap policy as laudable, Senator Diri however stressed that the policy was ill-timed and its implementation had caused untold hardship on the lives and livelihoods of the people.
“I know this situation has inflicted severe hardship on many of us. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been directly or indirectly affected by the adverse consequences of the implementation of the naira redesign and currency swap policy of the federal government.”
Commenting on the protest staged by some persons arising from the currency scarcity at Akenfa in Yenagoa, Diri said they do not understand that currency and monetary policy were strictly on the Exclusive List and that the states had no power to enforce policies related to them.
He said the meeting was convened to interact with major stakeholders in the various business sectors with a view to seeking ways to ease the challenges brought about by the Naira swap policy.
The governor also noted that his administration was aware that some traders were involved in activities that had created a system that diminished the purchasing power of the old notes.
He said the unwholesome practice was totally unacceptable to the state government and called on the leadership of the various unions and associations to prevail on errant members to desist forthwith.
“By the Supreme Court ruling, both the old and new notes have equal value and should be treated as such. We will not condone any illegal or discriminatory practice that will lead to a breakdown of law and order in the state.”
Diri promised that he would meet with managers of commercial banks in the state as well as relevant officials at the federal level and offer advice on ways to mitigate the sufferings of the people.
The leadership of the various unions and associations of petroleum marketers, transporters and traders at the meeting included the state chairmen of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Peter Erefamote, State Tricycle Owners Association, Mr Sani Moniru, and that of the National Road Transport Workers Union of Nigeria, Chief Erebo Oyinkuro.
Others were the former secretary, Swali market traders association, Mrs Fortune Samuel, and Mrs Christian Gwuembe of the Periwinkle Traders Association.