For human rights lawyer and activist, Bamidele Aturu, the planned introduction of five thousand naira note and coining of the lower currencies if implemented will generate social anomia, economic dislocation and unquantifiable deprivations to the poor masses who are already on the edge of existence. He spoke to CHARLES ADINGUPU.
The decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will certainly lead to hyper inflation. From experience, whenever such exercise was embarked upon, items hitherto sold at the price of coins will jump to naira price or currency note because nobody, either seller or buyer wants to transact business with coins. So, if the currency note is two hundred naira (N200), automatically, the price of the least sold item will invariably be sold at two hundred naira.
In Nigeria, any commodity that goes up certainly will never come down. I’m surprise that the CBN is coming with such policy at a time when Nigerians are suffering. I believe Nigeria is too big nation where anybody will just come to perform any kind of experiment. I think that is what the CBN is doing right now. They just want people to celebrate them.
Barrister Bamidele Aturu
They concoct obnoxious and fanciful policy and throw it at the Nigeria’s economic environment even when the conditions are not suitable. For me, I think that is quite despicable.
At the moment, what happens to the poor. Every developing economy must have the poor at its heart. They cannot be at its heart. They cannot be formulating policies that will throw the teeming poor masses out of jobs and that will create inflation and then create an environment for crime to thrive.
Anyway, I’m strongly oppose to it so much so that I don’t even know how best to express my anger towards it.
But does the CBN Act really empowers the Governor to implement such policy?
My own position is that even though the CBN Acts grants the Governor considerable autonomy, that is not a licence to do things that will jeopardise the state of Nigeria knowing that such policy will wipe them out of existence, they reserve the right to wipe the CBN Governor out of existence by removing him from him from office. Though, I’m not interested in the legalistic argument some people are currently canvassing. Please let us not be legalistic about our economy.
This is all abut political economy. So, even if he says he will make the least denomination one billion naira, are we going to allow him to do that? I’m saying that whoever appointed him in the first place either the Senate or Presidency should kick him out (Mallam Sanusi) of the place because the man is creating a lot of hardship for the Nigerian people and truncating development.
How can you reconcile Mallam Lamido’s bank reformation and this present planned decision of creating of N5,000 note?
When the tsunami hit the banking industry, I publicly issued a statement supporting what the CBN did. And I want to state it loud and clear that I quite appreciated the CBN hierarchy for that timely intervention in the banking sector. Also, we cannot allow a group of people to help themselves with depositors’ funds under any guise. Hence I supported it.
However, I cannot go ahead to begin to support everything the CBN does. As I said earlier, and as I told some people, I’m beginning to now watch the CBN very closely. I thought that the CBN was operating generally from a progressive ideological position but I’m now not sure of that.
What are the implications of this policy to low income earners in particular if implemented?
What this people wants to do is wipe out the poor people out of existence. Hence we will not allow this policy to stand, because allowing the policy to stand is tantamount to wipe out majority of Nigerians who are mostly the poor. Definitely it will create a situation where the poor cannot send their children to school, pay medical bills and even move from one place another as freely as they should and they are now subjected to all sorts of deprivation or the other.
And again it will encourage corruption as politicians and other Nigerians can easily move huge amount of money without hassles.
I think that at this time of development, this policy is not called for, it is unwarranted, indefensible and cannot be allowed. If the President cannot advise the CBN leadership, let the Senate remove them for constituting themselves as obstacles to peace and progress to the people of Nigeria.
But what could be in the mind of the coordinating minister at the moment over this planned policy?
Well, you know that the coordinating minister has no power over the CBN if you look at the CBN Act. I’m beginning to be worried. Do we give so much autonomy to people without also allowing legislative oversight. Some level of popular control, Then of course you are giving power without responsibility.
I support some level of autonomy but anywhere in the world, you cannot have a CBN that just do anything it just wants to do at large. For now, I think the coordinating minister is powerless in this case and in any case these people are all in the same ideological boat. They are all members of the economic management team. She has not publicly oppose the idea at the moment.
Are we sure they are not working in tandem?