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More controversies trail cash withdrawal policy

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Sodiq Omolaoye and John Akubo, (Abuja)
10 December 2022   |   6:16 am
The new cash withdrawal limit recently released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) generated more controversies yesterday with more groups and individuals either announcing their support for the policy or kicking against it.

• Senate: We Have Collected Information On Its Merits
• Groups Seek Impeachment Of Gbajabiamila Over Reps Resolution
• Dickson Accuses APC Of Hidden Agenda
• Policy Not New, CBN Deputy Governor Designate Insists

The new cash withdrawal limit recently released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) generated more controversies yesterday with more groups and individuals either announcing their support for the policy or kicking against it.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, yesterday, disclosed that it has collected the required information on the merits of the policy for onward submission to the Senate.

The upper legislative chamber had on Wednesday mandated the committee to find out from the apex bank the compelling reasons for the introduction of the policy, which limits an individual to N100,000 per week and a corporate organisation to N500,000 per week.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Uba Sani, after a confirmatory hearing with some re-appointed Deputy Governors of the apex bank, said: “With the presentation made by the Deputy Governor of CBN on Financial System Stability, Aisha Ndanusa Ahmad, on the planned limited cash withdrawal, the required information on the merits of the policy has been given and will be communicated to the Senate in plenary through our report.

“The two Deputy Governors, having earlier been screened before serving their first tenures, need not further questioning. And again as unanimously agreed by members of the Committee, they should therefore take a bow and go.”

When asked to provide explanation on the policy, the Deputy Governor of CBN on Financial System Stability, Mrs. Aishat Ahmad, said the policy was introduced in 2012 during the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration, adding that it was extended to Abuja and six other states in 2013.

The CBN Deputy Governor made the disclosure during screening exercise carried out on her and her counterparts on Corporate Services, Edward Lametek Adamu, for re-appointments.

She said the cashless policy being fully implemented by CBN now was not new, adding that required steps in that direction was taken in 2012 with Lagos State as pilot scheme and Abuja and six other states added in 2013.

She explained that though full implementation of the policy has not been carried out by CBN since then, its introduction then has brought a lot of transformation in the banking and payment system.

“I’m happy for the opportunity given to make presentations on planned N100,000 withdrawal limit for individuals and N500, 000 for corporate bodies per week, beginning from January 9, 2023, in line with the cashless policy introduced in 2012.

“Based on information available to CBN, the time for full implementation of the policy with proposed limit on cash withdrawals per week is now,” Ahmad said.

According to her, the “required infrastructure for its implementation in terms of financial access point system, mobile money, e-naira etc, are available across the 774 local councils of the country.”

She added: “All fears and worries being expressed by Nigerians on the planned limited cash withdrawal policy are seriously being taken care of as nobody or section of Nigerians will be left out.

“In the past, banking transactions in Nigeria was limited to Bank Branches alone as the only means, which has now expanded into multiple electronic platforms as well as geometrical increase in the number of agents from 88,000 to 1.4million,” she said. 

She however said that the apex bank remains flexible and would be ready to accommodate opinions that would not make the policy difficult to any category of Nigerians during implementation.

Weighing in on the issue yesterday, youths from the South West zone under the aegis of the Oduduwa Youths Forum berated members of House of Representatives for moving against the policy.

The House had during plenary last Thursday ordered the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to suspend the implementation of the policy.

But addressing journalists in Abuja, leader of the group, Ade Balogun, described the resolution as baseless and illegal, saying it was driven by personal interest and should therefore be ignored by the CBN. 

Balogun said: “The resolution is not only baseless but also illegal. Let the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila and his allies in this infamous journey know that their resolution against cash withdrawal limit is an act of legislative rascality that cannot stand.

“We urge loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari in the House of Representatives not to waste time in moving against Gbajabiamila. They should impeach Gbajabiamila for undermining the present administration, which has already backed the cash withdrawal limit.”

Similarly, a group, Ethnic Youth Leaders Council of Nigeria (EYLCN) has called for the impeachment of Gbajabiamila for leading other lawmakers to oppose the policy.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, Secretary of EYLCN, Peter Abang, said the group has “uncovered a well-oiled plot to discredit the cash withdrawal limit by politicians with stolen funds in their possession.” 

They accused politicians of hatching plot to attack and undermine President Buhari and the government’s policy on cash withdrawal limit.

“Information in our custody is that these enemies of state have pooled over $5 million with which they hope to launch an onslaught against the policy beginning from next week.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce that these men already have an ally in Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila of the House of Representatives and his caucus in the House have disappointedly joined hands to ensure that for primordial political and pecuniary interests, a policy which will really benefit our country is killed, in utter disregard to the oath of office they swore to make laws for the good governance of our country.

“It was in furtherance of this plot and in alliance with anti-people politicians that Speaker Gbajabiamila steered the House on Thursday to resolve to oppose the cash withdrawal policy even without an engagement with the Central Bank or without hearing from the bank or even asking the bank for answers to their fears,” he added.

Abang described the action of the House of Representatives as illegal, abuse of office and the height of legislative rascality. 
He commended the CBN governor on the policy, urging him to stand firm against “enemies who cannot come out before the Nigerian people to defend their actions.” 

However, a former governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, has kicked against the policy, accusing the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of having a hidden agenda behind it.

Speaking with journalists in Abuja after the screening of the CBN deputy governor designates, Dickson wandered why the ruling party was not concerned about the success of the forthcoming 2023 election.

He stated that ordinarily the party should have allowed the incoming government to carry out the new policies if they don’t have any hidden agenda.