The House of Representatives on Thursday asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to halt the implementation of the new cash withdrawal policy slated for January 9, 2023, pending compliance with the provisions of the Act establishing the bank.
Reps also summoned the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emiefele, over the development.
This followed the adoption of a motion of Urgent Matter of Public Importance by Rep. Aliyu Magaji (APC-Jigawa) at plenary.
The House urged the governor to appear on Thursday, December 15, to answer relevant questions on the policy.
Leading the debate, Magaji said that his constituents woke up to hear of the CBN’s currency redesign without prior notice.
“I do not know how my people will go and change this money, I do not know where my people will go and get it; the best we have is the POS, our people still deal in physical cash,” he said.
Magaji said that although it was good to have cashless policy, there was need to be circumspect when borrowing ideas and policies from other countries that were far ahead of Nigeria.
“The issue affects everyone, most of our people are in rural areas, and everything is being done in Naira and cash, and somebody will wake up and make a policy that will start tomorrow, no consultation.
“People have forgotten that 80 to 90 per cent of our people are in the rural areas; we must do something to save the situation, if there were enough banks and facilities, why not, it will work.
Rep. Aminu Suleman (APC-Kano) said that the policy could cause the exit of many lawmakers as it was unpopular.
He said that more than 70 per cent of communities in the country do not have banking system saying that only a few states like Lagos, Rivers, Kano and probably Delta might boast of about 70 per cent banking coverage.
“Yet the CBN under Emiefele woke up and introduced this decision; this will completely eradicate all the successes we have gathered as a country in order to arrest restiveness and banditry.
“This is because the little intervention we have made by introducing small-scale businesses will be completely whipped out; thousands of Nigerians have come to live and to do business through the POS.
“All these will go away with the introduction of this policy, and I cannot understand how Nigerians will be able to manage our businesses that is predominantly in cash with a withdrawal of N100, 000 per day,” he said.
Rep. Nnolim Nnaji (PDP-Enugu) said the CBN decision was totally against commerce, saying that the economic situation in Nigeria needed more spending than savings.
According to him, the only way to drive an economic in this situation is for people to be spending money not saving money, for businesses to be moving.
“We cannot at this point subject ourselves to one man, the decision is total wrong and all of us must rise and say no because it affects the people it affects.
“Yes the CBN has the power to do so, but we also represent the people, and before you let such decision out, we as the representatives should be aware, so we can see how we can face the people,” he said.
Rep. Mark Gbillah (PDP-Benue) said that the governor must appear before the house as summoned.
CBN Act “Section 8 (4) of the CBN Act states that the governor shall appear before the National Assembly at semi-annual hearings as specified in subsection 5 regarding,” he said.
He said that Act stipulated that the governor should brief the parliament on efforts, activities, objectives and plans of the board with monetary policy, economic development, prospects for the future described in the report required in sub-section 5 (b).
He said that the Act also stipulated that governor, shall from time to time, keep the President informed of the affairs of the bank, including a report of its budget.
He said that the governor was also expected to make a formal presentation of the activities of the bank and the performance of the economy to the relevant committees of the National Assembly.
Gbillah said that the CBN Governor has not been keeping to his statutory responsibility as stated by the CBN Act.
However, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP-Delta) said that part of the factors enforcing kidnapping and all the vices that were very inimical was the availability of cash in the hands of citizens.
He said that the reason criminals go to the communities and ask the people to contribute money because there was cash everywhere.
“If you want to stop banditry, make it impossible for them to have cash, there should not be available cash for them.
“Secondly we passed the law on this floor, it is our law, the fact that the CBN has been sleeping all these while and never went into the law passed and to follow it to the later does not mean that it was not there.
“They are only now waking up to implement the law we sent to them, if we want to amend it, we have to amend the law, it will not come by a resolution and that is the truth.
“No matter how bad we feel, no matter how we feel that our people will be endangered, in think the right thing is to amend the existing law.
“On the issues of cashless policy, I think that is the best thing that can happen to this country even though the timing might be difficult, we may ask for an extension of time for it to be well implemented,” he said.