President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians on Thursday morning amid the current cash crunch which has become a major issue in the country.
Buhari directed that the old N200 notes be re-introduced into circulation, as they will remain legal tender until April 10.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, then met with the 15 heads of commercial banks to discuss updates to the Naira swap policy.
But There was more drama to come.
Later in the day, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, arranged his own broadcast to residents of the state.
“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,” El-Rufai said.
El-Rufai’s very public antagonism of Buhari has led to debates online and offline about the rule of law, the autonomy of the CBN and just how much authority the president wields.
Ridwan Oke, the managing partner, The Iris Attorneys LP, a Lagos-based law firm, spoke to newsmenT and gave his insights.
“As for Naira notes, it is my opinion that it is still a legal tender. Pronouncements of the President is not a law.
“Also, when a matter is before the Court, even if you have contrary view against the order of the court, the appropriate way is to approach the Court to vacate the order and until that order is vacated or varied, it is the law for that moment.
“The President flouting the ruling of the Supreme Court is a bad precedent for this country.
“So, if the President is flouting the order of the court, even if he gives an order, the order is invalid and no one is bound to follow it,” Oke explained.
But El-Rufai is not anyone. He is an important voice in Nigerian politics, especially in the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the North.
Oke added, “El-Rufai has the right to go against the President as he is merely following a legitimate court order, the highest Court in the land.
“Arguments could be made that APC Governors are doing it for their personal gains but still, it doesn’t mean that they don’t have the backing of a legitimate court order.”
Similarly, the spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, APC-PCC, Festus Keyamo said he is opposed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on the new naira notes.
Keyamo, a minister in Buhari’s administration and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, noted that the Nigerian leader might have acted on a wrong counsel after the Supreme Court judgement.
“The President acted honestly without intention to slight the Supreme Court. But he may have acted on wrong advice,” he said on Channels Television’s The 2023 Verdict on Friday.
The Minister of State (Labour) said though he doesn’t know who advised the President, he was speaking out because people will later ask “where I stood at this time”.