*Alleged plans by top politicians to organise violent protests against CBN
Sunday Aborisade in Abuja
Conference of Nigerian Political Parties Chairmen and candidates for the 2023 Election slated for February 25, have rejected alleged plans by some people to force the Central Bank of Nigeria to suspend the ongoing Naira Redesign Policy.
The political parties’ chairmen and their candidates stated this in Abuja on Monday at a joint news conference addressed by their Spokesperson, Kenneth Udeze, who is also the Chairman of Action Alliance.
They threatened to pull out of the election if the apex bank was forced to succumb to pressure and blackmail and suspend the policy.
They claimed to be in possession of credible security reports which indicated that there is a plot to instigate violent disturbances to provoke civil unrest aimed at forcing the CBN to postpone the policy
Udeze said, ‘We hereby announce our resolution that at least 14 0f the 18 political parties in Nigeria will not be interested in the 2023 general election and indeed we shall withdraw all our participation from the electoral process if these currency policies are suspended or cancelled or if the deadline is further shifted.
“Having stated our views clearly, we now bring to the notice of the nation and particularly the security agencies that we have intercepted very credible intelligence of a well-financed plot to instigate violent disturbances, incite and provoke civil unrest aimed at undermining the President and causing a shift in the election date or causing his administration to come to an abrupt end.
“We were approached to lend our support, generous promises were made but we believe that Nigeria comes first before any other mundane consideration.
“Painfully, we must state that this voice of dissent is coming from within the political party of the President.
“Elements of the party that should have been the first to embrace these policies is the party championing the opposition against it”
They alleged that the charge was being led by the Governors of Kaduna and Kano States. Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje.
They also claimed that Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers state and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State were part of the alleged plot.
The political parties said they were backing the policy because it would improve the credibility of the elections.
According to Udeze, “It is only election riggers, vote buyers, bandits, corruption merchants and their accomplices that are against these policies.”
He said, “The Nigerian people are in support and are currently waging war against these identified groups of unpatriotic Nigerians who are deliberately sabotaging the policies so that the Federal Government and the Central Bank will succumb to their plot and cancel or reverse the policies.
“We hereby call on the Department of State Services to put these governors on the watch list as they are seriously mobilizing miscreants to begin as quickly as possible protests which will no commence from naira scarcity protests and graduate quickly to Buhari Must Go protests which is the ultimate aim where the President refuses to bulge.
“In all these, we asked ourselves, what is the offence of President Muhammadu Buhari? Even though President Buhari is not our friend and ally, we have observed that his only offence is his insistence to leave a legacy and conduct free, fair and credible election.
“This insistence has made these few Governors of his party to begin to speak ill of the President. It is shocking that it is the same President that Mallam Nasir El-Rufai eulogizes and worships that he now disparages and ridicules.
“These planned violent protests are billed to commence on Thursday. They plan to deploy the people who they have already recruited to heighten drama at the banks including going naked, fighting, making statements that will sway emotions in their favour and all such other acts.
“They believe that if such acts are sustained for three days, they would have gotten enough sympathy and evoked enough emotions to launch the violent protests on Thursday.
“They plan to torch some banks and other public infrastructure attack individual bank staff and bring mayhem upon the country of unimaginable proportion as they termed it. Again, we call on all security agencies to be on the lookout from today when they start.
“While these actions are going on, their media warriors will also be massively deployed to various Television and radio stations to send the message in one direction that the action of the governors is based on their love for the suffering poor people of Nigeria.
“They agree that the foundation already laid by Governor El-Rufai and Chief Femi Fani Kayode is solid enough for others to build on.
“On this we ask, when did Nigerian Governors begin to so love the suffering masses of Nigerians that they could have mobilized to want to pressure and mislead the President on the true state of affairs about these policies of the CBN.
“Most of these Governors had not reckoned with President Buhari insisting on fulfilling his promise of free and fair election and had relied on buying votes and all of a sudden President Buhari has taken a decision that has scattered their plans, hence these plots and claiming it is for the people.
“We say it is not for the people that they are fighting. The governors are one of the last group of people who have not taken their monies to the bank because they believe they will stop these policies.
“We remind them again, to take all the money stashed in the basements and attics of the various government houses back to the bank or the money will turn to paper in their hands.
“Mr. President, please listen to us. We know that there are hitches in the process, Nigerians are asking that you direct the CBN to concentrate of ameliorating the sufferings quickly and rule out cancellation or suspension of the policy.
“These evil plans are targeted at coinciding the disturbances with the 7 day grace Mr. President asked Nigerians to grant him to solve the crunch.
“The aim of the heightening of the tension is to mislead the President. That is not the true reflection of the situation on the ground.
“Mr. President, if you fall to their gimmicks and tamper with this policy, it will only mean you cannot leave your legacy and you cannot fulfill your promise.
“Nigerian political parties will therefore in such situation boycott the elections as we cannot guarantee the credibility of the election where people have access to illicit funds to buy votes and compromise electoral officials.
“In further show of our solidarity and commitment to the success of these policies, five political parties have been nominated on behalf of the others to approach the Court to get an order restraining any authority from shifting the sacrosanct date of 10th February, 2023.
“We will also seek court orders to compel all the commercial banks to submit their weekly records of how they dispensed the currency allocations they received from the Central Bank of Nigeria from the inception of these policies.
“They are mobilising and paying miscreants to protest who will claim to be civil society organizations, they are who they are, hired touts.
“All serious minded civil society organisations are in support of the policy. Yes there are sufferings but this fake amplification of the situation must stop.
“On this note, we are warning bank managers, because we have our eyes on them, let what happened before not happen again where CBN delivered the new notes to them and many of them delivered it to the warehouses of some politicians while some began to trade on it following the artificial scarcity which they caused.
“Point Of Sale (POS) operators who are mostly agents of the banks cannot get money from the banks. ATM machines are not working, Bank online applications are not now working yet CBN delivered enough cash to these banks.
“We call on the CBN to immediately make example of some of these banks sabotaging these policies by imposing huge fines on them so that it will act as deterrent.
“The economic sabotage from the banks must be checked immediately. Why are the banks and these Governors running away from policies that will enable anti-corruption agencies to follow the money? If they indeed love the people, are they not supposed to support a policy that can allow tracking of the people’s money?
“We call on the CBN, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the NFIU, ICPC, DSS, and the Police to all put out their dragnet and ensure that all illicit funds are mopped up and to be ready to arrest those who may also dare to use electronic means to buy votes.
“Nigerians will recall the exposure of what was popularly called Operation Wire-Wire, any person that indulges in same, with these policies will certainly have their day in jail.
“We now announce to you that Nigerian political parties have after intensive deliberations and extensive consultations passed a resounding vote of confidence on the Naira redesign policy and cash withdrawal limit policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“We are therefore going to give the apex bank and the policies all the needed support to succeed. We are the ones fielding the candidates for the elections and we are the same people saying we want the policy.
“Nigeria cannot afford to and will not listen to one candidate who believes he needs all the Naira in the CBN vault to contest for his elections.
“We do not need the money, we need the votes and we discourage votes in Nigeria being up for sale. If we have to pay our accredited agents, we shall do that through electronic means and it will be from official accounts without any criminal intents.
“We call on all those stoking the embers of crisis in our country to have a rethink as their game plan is dead on arrival. Both the February 10 and February 25 dates are historic and sacrosanct.
“Elections will hold as scheduled and the current administration will run its full course. There will be no postponement of election dates and there will be not unlimited illicit cash to be used to compromise the elections.
“We also call on the CBN to inform Nigerians more about their activities to ameliorate the genuine hardship and also slam any bans found sabotaging this policy with huge fines.”
Also present on the occasion were the National Chairman of the National Rescue Movement (NRM) Chief Isaac Udeh; National Chairman of Accord, Mohammed Lawal Nalado; National Chairman of Action Alliance (AA); National Chairman of Allied Peoples Movement (APM) Alhaji Yusuf Mamman Dantalle and the National Chairman of Action Peoples Party (APP) Chief Uchenna Nnadi.
Some Presidential candidates, Governorship, Senatorial, House of Representatives and House of Assembly candidates were also present.