Rivers State Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has said the shoddy implementation of the naira swap policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is political and has worsened the living condition of the poor in society.
Governor Wike stressed that the essence of government and its agency, such as CBN, is not to inflict hardship on the masses but to cushion it.
He made these remarks during the official presentation of the letter of nomination for the “award of Independent Man of the Year 2022,” on him by the management of Independent Newspapers, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, on Tuesday.
The Rivers State governor informed that Nigerians are suffering due to the tactless implementation of the naira swap policy and urged the government to urgently ameliorate the people’s condition.
“We are in a difficult situation now. It doesn’t matter what anybody may say, and the truth must be told at all times. Nigerians are suffering now, and as a people, we owe that responsibility to cushion the hardship that Nigerians face; we are not to worsen the situation.”
Governor Wike said people are not necessarily opposed to redesigning the N1000, N500 and N200 note. Still, they are concerned about the implementation of the policy and the hardship it has inflicted on the masses.
“Nobody says, and let it be on record that there is nothing wrong with redesigning our naira. We are saying that the implementation will not help; rather, it will aggravate the condition that people face, particularly the poor people.”
He said those who insist that the naira swap policy will curb corruption and eliminate vote buying during the general election are not sincere. He states, “the whole thing has been political, and that is not what it is supposed to be.”
Governor Wike said it is regrettable that the CBN has failed to emulate the global best practice in implementing the naira swap policy. He stressed that ideally, the CBN should have allowed the old notes to be in circulation alongside the new notes for at least one year before it is completely phased out.
“You have also not made the new one available, and then you have said we can’t collect the old one again. Now, you that even have money in the bank are not allowed to collect your money.”
The governor observed that those advocating that Nigerians should embrace internet banking have failed to consider the fact that the vast majority of the citizens, particularly in rural areas, don’t have bank accounts.
Governor Wike charged the media not to be indifferent to the prevailing situation in the country because it has a vital role to play in the people’s quest for the actualisation of a just and equitable nation.
Earlier, the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of Independent Newspapers, Steve Omanufeme, said governor Wike was nominated for the award for his dogged fight for justice, equity and fairness.
“We are today to officially present the letter of your nomination as Independent Man of the year 2022. Everybody can see and know what you have done in Rivers State. But beyond that, we are giving this award because of your action, which people misunderstood, especially your contribution to good governance and your dogged fight for justice, equity and fairness.
Omanufeme said governor Wike has become the voice of the voiceless in the country and expressed confidence that history will be fair to him.
He urged Nigerians to take the governor’s message to heart and work towards defending the country’s fledgling democracy.
“This award is to put it in history that you were there, you came and you conquered, and even tried to make came and, tors believe in you. We pray we carry it on and tell Nigerians that the oppressed must be released from the shackles.”