Arewa Group Slams Atiku Over Comment On New Naira

Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) has slammed the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, over his comment urging the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to grant further extension of its Naira swap policy deadline beyond the 10 days announced by the bank.

The CBN had earlier extended the deadline for the swap of old naira notes to February 10, to enable Nigerians carry out the exchange.

The CBN initially fixed January 31 as the deadline but many Nigerians have not been able to get the new N200, N500, and N1000 notes, prompting a scarcity in the country.

Atiku, who had initially called for the deadline extension, recently urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN not to extend it any further, as this may defeat the purpose of the redesigned naira note.

However, Yerima Shettima, the National President of the AYCF, in a press statement on Saturday, declared that Atiku was on his own for recently opposing the opinions of the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, and the National Assembly on the policy.

Shettima wondered what Atiku hoped to benefit from the difficulties citizens currently experience as a result of the cash swap policy.

Atiku was further warned to stop playing politics with the policy because his comment was self-serving.

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Shettima said, “Former VP Atiku’s call was out of place because it is coming on the heels of growing complaint about the kind of sabotage that is causing untold hardship to Nigerians over this policy.

“Atiku stands alone in his call on the CBN not to review the deadline. He is against prominent Nigerians who made passionate appeal for deadline review, notably the sultan of Sokoto, the Senate and House of Representatives leaders and experts.

“What purpose will the current difficulties people are facing serve Atiku? Why would he rather identify with the need to let the difficulties faced by especially rural folks continue and for how long?”

While noting that the policy was good owing to the fact that as at end of June 2022, available data indicated that N2.72 trillion out of the N3.26 trillion in circulation was outside the vaults of commercial banks, the group said it supports the calls by Nigerians for an extension.

“We are of course aware that the economy has suffered heavy, avoidable bruises.

“The AYCF wishes to state that it will be suicidal for this nation to consider Atiku’s advice against a review of the CBN cash swap deadline, because for any policy to succeed, it must have a human face and we believe the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, won’t turn against overwhelming public interest, like Atiku has just done.

“The AYCF is therefore warning the ex-VP not to turn this policy into a weapon of political manipulation or political attention-seeking opportunity. He should forget about the continuation of a policy in the midst of loud calls for positive review for the sake of his selfish political and self-serving interests. We will not stop emphasising that Nigeria is never a Banana Republic.

“We advise the ex-VP to concentrate on his presidential campaigns by showcasing what he has done to merit the votes of Nigerians and stop playing politics with our economic policies and associated challenges. We thought the ex-VP would tell Nigerians what he has to offer in fighting inflation and weak national currency,” the group added.