A week to the 2023 general elections, all is now clear that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is going to the polls as a divided house.
President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the leader of the party, is at the centre of attacks by his one time loyal and close friends.
Governors on the party’s platform are on the offensive against the President, with some of them declaring openly that the President’s orders with regards to the Naira redesign policy would not be obeyed.
Buhari had in a national broadcast on Thursday approved the restoration of the old N200 notes as legal tender. He, however, said the February 10 deadline for the old N1000 and N500 notes remains.
Buhari said, “To further ease the supply pressures, particularly to our citizens, I have given approval to the CBN that the old N200 bank notes be released back into circulation.
“And that it should also be allowed to circulate as legal tender with the new N200, N500, and N1000 banknotes for 60 days from February 10, 2023 to April 10 2023 when the old N200 notes cease to be legal tender.”
But Governors on the platform of his party, the APC would not have it.
They are insisting the policy was designed by ‘certain elements’ in the presidency, to stop the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu from winning the presidential election.
Leading the onslaught are Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Umar Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, as well as their Jigawa counterpart, Badaru Abubakar.
El-Rufai and Ganduje are claiming that there was a plan to truncate the country’s democracy and force a military rule.
Their claim is not far from the allegations made by Femi Fani-Kayode, for which he is now a daily guest of the Department of State Services, DSS.
The military was also quick to declare that it had no plan to meddle into the country’s democratic process, warning politicians to be mindful of their utterances.
But the President’s former close men are now voicing out more attacks on his administration.
El-Rufai addressed residents of his State on Thursday evening, asking them to continue using the old Naira notes. This is in total disobedience to the President’s earlier order.
El-rufai urged them to stand up strongly for democracy, peace and national unity.
He said, “Let us stay calm and peaceful, and support the lawful means being utilised to solve our problems. On behalf of the Kaduna State Government, I wish to assure you that none of you would lose the money you have in old notes.
“Let no artificial and illegal deadline frighten you. Whether you live in towns, villages or in our isolated rural communities, do not feel stampeded to deposit your old notes in the banks. Hold on to them.
“Continue to use them as legal tender as ordered by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. No deadline can render them worthless, ever. The law is on your side. The Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 and the Bills of Exchange Act, both oblige the CBN to recognise your old notes and give you value in new notes whenever you bring them to the CBN, even in the next 100 years.
“Therefore, as your governor, I wish to assure you that the Kaduna State Government, in collaboration with elected legislators, traditional institution, elected local government councils, markets, and traders associations will help you collect, record, document, collate and deliver all your old notes to the Kaduna branch of the Central Bank on your behalf into the new ones immediately after the elections.”
While toeing the same path earlier, Governor Umar Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State came hard on President Buhari, accusing him of refusing to abide by the Supreme Court order.
In an audio recording, Ganduje was quoted in vernacular asking, that, “President Buhari should remember that for several times he was trying to contest Presidency but he couldn’t make it until there was an alliance, but now after enjoying everything, he turned back against the same democratic system that saw him to office”.
He accused the President of refusing to heed genuine advice but chose to do the bidding of those misleading him, even at the detriment of his party, the APC.
“I wonder why the President is hellbent on making the same Party that helped him to win elections lose out, what did we do to him that he is this ignorant on several pieces of advice forwarded to him.
“This same Buhari he contested again and again but he couldn’t win not until there was an alliance. Now he wins and wins again for the second term, now that he is leaving, he wants to cripple the same Party that brought him to power why?
“This Currency Swap Policy, why didn’t the President bring it seven and a half years ago or after elections, but now one must be compelled to think that there is an ulterior motive in the whole thing,” the Kano Governor said.
In Jigawa, the State Government has also said the old naira notes remain legal tender pending the judgement of the Supreme Court.
The state Commissioner for Information, Youths Sports and Culture Bala Ibrahim Mamsa stated this in a statement issued on Thursday.
According to him “Jigawa State is among the States before the Supreme Court of Nigeria the CBN and the court have issued an order “…restraining the CBN from suspending or determining or ending on the 10th of February, 2023, the time frame within which the now older versions of the 200, 500 and 1000 denominations of the naira may no longer be legal tender pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on notice…”
It enjoined its citizens to desist from disobeying the law and causing hardships to the people of the State.
The State government advised the general public to report any trader or business organisation that refused to accept the old N200, N500, and N1000 notes as legal tender in Jigawa State to the nearest appropriate authorities.
Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu Iziguzoro said that the APC governors would be held responsible should the forthcoming general election be truncated.
He wondered why governors should be at the forefront of leading an opposition against a policy by their own party.
He said, “It is indeed an interesting time. No one would have expected that El-Rufai and Ganduje who have been posturing as Buhari’s men would now come out with such an audacity to counter his (Buhari) orders.
“They are talking about disobedience to the Supreme Court order. But let me ask the governors- what did they say when the Federal Government refused to release Mazi Nnamdi Kanu despite an order of the Court of Appeal? Have they been obeying all the court orders in their various States?
“The answer to the above questions is obvious. So, they should stop deceiving Nigerians. They are fighting the policy not because they so love the masses. The truth is that it is for selfish reasons.
“However, Nigerians are watching and listening to their utterances too. Should anything happen to the country’s democracy, they should be held responsible.
“Why should they be talking about military takeover everyday? Is there anything they know which we don’t know? These governors should not hide under immunity to undermine the country’s democratic process.”
“Right now, they are enthroning anarchy and security agencies should not allow it. We cannot understand a situation where a governor would openly counter the President’s order on such a sensitive matter. It is an invitation to anarchy.
“But let it be stressed here that those governors have plans to set the country on fire and the federal government must use its apparatus to stop them,” the Ohanaeze scribe said.
A former federal lawmaker, Shehu Sani, while reacting to the developments, told President Buhari to expect more attacks from the governors.
He tweeted, “The President should expect more attacks from his Party’s Governors.
“He has taken the miracle stick and crossed and wants to leave his men in the middle of the Red Sea.”
It is left to be seen what happens in the next few days, as tension continues to build up preparatory to the presidential poll.