Senate session becomes heated over naira redesign

Senator Uba Sani, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions, moved a motion on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Naira Redesign Policy, which led to a contentious Wednesday session in the Senate.

In his motion’s prayers, Sani begged the Senate to grant legislative approval for the proposed policy.

In addition, he desires that the Senate direct his committee to conduct an active investigation into the matter.

He recommended support for the CBN redesign policy in the Senate, along with the January 31 deadline for compliance.

Things became problematic, however, when Senators Ali Ndume, Abiodun Olujimi, Betty Apiafi, Barau Jibrin, Chukwuka Utazi, and Orji Kalu supported the CBN policy but proposed extending the deadline for compliance.

Kalu specifically requested that the Senate invite the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to shed additional light on the policy, in order to plead with him to extend the deadline to April 30, 2023.

Senator Gabriel Suswam, however, dissented with Kalu and others, asserting that the CBN governor had always disregarded Senate invitations.

He advised his colleagues to disregard the CBN’s directive, regardless of the repercussions.

Senator Bassey Akpan emphasized in his submission the need to support the CBN governor. He stated that the issue should not be discussed further.

The contributions of Suswam and Akpan did not go over well with those requesting a deadline extension, which resulted in an unruly plenary session.

After ten minutes of heated debate, the presiding officer, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, made several requests to restore order.

Senator Ndume previously stated that there were just five banks in all 27 local government areas of Borno State since the insurgency began.

Senator Olujimi also argued that a month and a half was insufficient to withdraw all of the currency in circulation without causing the economy to collapse.

She stated that the Senate should invite the CBN governor to provide additional clarification on the matter.

Senator Apiafi stated that rural banking had been suspended, hence the January deadline must be extended.

She stated that counterfeiting was not sufficient cause to alter the naira banknotes.

She noted that the ramifications of the redesign should be evaluated critically in light of the fact that robbers claimed they would demand ransom in foreign currency if naira banknotes were altered.

Senator Barau Jibrin stated that re-designing the naira could not stop terrorism, but just lessen it.

Senator Chukwuka Utazi stated that, due to the rural nature of the country, the leadership of the Senate should communicate with the CBN governor to explain the ramifications of the country’s peculiarities, and that the CBN should visit all rural communities to obtain firsthand information.

Senator Orji Kalu proposed extending the deadline from January 31 to April 30, adding that the Banking and Finance Committee should meet with the CBN governor to discuss the subject.

The Vice President of the Senate stated that the CBN had the authority to redesign the naira and establish a deadline for compliance.

After the disorderly session, the Senate offered legislative backing for the measure.

It also directed the Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions to conduct oversight to ensure that Nigerians were sufficiently safeguarded from the Central Bank of Nigeria, banks, and other authorities participating in the process.

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