Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has called on the government and all the stakeholders to ensure next month’s election is not changed and that the May 29, 2023 hand-over date is not altered.
The group also expressed concern on the ordeals being experienced by Nigerians over fuel and new naira notes’ scarcity.
Afenifere, in a press statement signed by its national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, reiterated that the February/March elections date are sacrosanct.
According to the group, the dates are imperative partly due to the alarm raised by the spokesman of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Dr. Hakeem Baba-Hamed of a possibility of using the court to thwart the election process as well as difficulties being inflicted on Nigerians which consequences might be used as excuse to jeopardise the ongoing civil rule.
“The contrived pains can be seen in the unabated insecurity, heightened difficulties in getting fuel, in getting new Naira notes and in getting other energy sources such as electricity, gas, kerosene and diesel,” they said.
Afenifere stated that as the difficulties being experienced in those areas continue and Nigerians begin to react, “their (peaceful) expression of frustration may be used as an excuse to want to tinker with the democratic experiment going on. Such would not be acceptable in any way.”
Afenifere noted that, it would be recalled that the ACF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed last week Friday, January 27th, disclosed that there were insinuations that the planned elections may not hold, “and some kind of unconstitutional contraption may be forced on Nigerians after May this year. Afenifere quoted the ACF secretary.
The organization stated that it is on the same page with ACF in its warning that, “Nigerians will not accept to live under any arrangement that offends the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Afenifere added that in spite of the fact that it has been strident in its call for a constitution that will usher in a Restructured Nigeria, “For now, the citizens have no choice other than to abide by the constitutional provisions especially on how to change governments in the country – which is through the electoral process as well as peaceful handing-over to the winner.
Harping on the ordeals that Nigerians are being made to pass through before the announcement of the extension of deadline in currency notes’ swap from January 31 to February 10 by the CBN Governor, the organization said that it was symptomatic of government’s penchant for making the people go through avoidable pains.
“From the beginning of January this year, Nigerians have been calling on the CBN to extend the deadline. The calls were predicated on the non-availability of new naira notes and the impossibility of being able to have the ones on hand swapped for the new ones before the expiration of the deadline on January 31,” Afenifere said.
It noted that new notes were difficult to obtain either inside the banks, on the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) or from the POS.
Afenifere however appreciated the eventual shift of the deadline to February 10 asserting that the pains and losses suffered by Nigerians last week would have been avoided “were the extension of the deadline announced much earlier. There, indeed, is a need for the government, particularly the CBN Governor, to apologise to Nigerians over these avoidable pangs and losses that they suffer – and are still suffering.”
The organization noted that banks and outlets where people can obtain the new notes should be stuffed with the currencies immediately in order not to have a repeat of what happened in the last two weeks.
On the claim by the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, that the new currency policy was aimed at those “holding illicit/stolen naira in their homes for speculative purposes”, Afenifere said that the policy was harming the poor instead.
Afenifere added that, If the authorities truly aimed at using the policy to catch those allegedly holding illicit, stolen money in their vaults, there are various legal and institutional frameworks to deal with this.
“For instance, there is the aspect of the law that prescribes that banks must notify security agencies once a person or an organization receives or pays out huge sums of money. Why not use that instrument to deal with the situation rather than making life difficult for hapless Nigerians carrying out financial transactions in tens, hundreds and thousands of naira only. It is quite punitive, inhuman, inconsiderate and insensitive. Government and related government agencies need to ensure that such does not repeat itself again,” the organisation said.