17th February, 2023
BUHARI’S SPEECH: A PRECURSOR TO AUTOCRATIC GOVERNANCE
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL has bemoaned President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech in which he regarded the N500 and N1,000 notes has ceased to be a legal tender in the country.
In a release issued by its Director, Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo on behalf of the organization’s Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran, he stated, “In the last couple of weeks, Nigerians have been facing the reality of scarcity of cash. Our banks are overwhelmed by angry customers demanding money, the ATMs are flooded with furious Nigerians struggling to withdraw cash, and some spend the whole day hoping to get a few Naira notes to pay bills. POS operators complain of lack of money; a few have charged between 15% and 20% to customers to get some cash”.
But to make matters worse, President Buhari in his recent speech to the nation illegalizes the N500 and N1,000 notes despite the Supreme court ruling extending the period the notes can be in circulation.
The CACOL head noted that “The Supreme Court can make pronouncement even on the President or whatever policy that emanates from the executive and because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is part of the executive, any pronouncement from the Apex court relating to the monetary policy of the land in particular and the CBN in general must be obeyed to the latter. The presidency is fast turning itself to the Judiciary. Since the pronouncement has ordinarily extended the period with which the old naira notes could be used, the president doesn’t have to review it pending the ruling of the Supreme Court. What the president has done is tantamount to contempt of court which is a kind of impunity and it is a precursor to rule of the thumb instead of rule of law”
Moreover, the principle of separation of powers clearly defines the limit of each arm of government. Taking the President’s speech into context, it shows president Buhari is gravitating towards dictatorship. The President ought to know by now that he cannot and he is not in a position to nullify the decision of the Supreme Court. If the executive is not pleased with the decision of the Court, the Attorney General of the Federation has the opportunity of going back to the Supreme Court to ask for a review of the earlier decision not that by Presidential fiat he would kind of set it aside without going back to the court.
Furthermore, the Attorney General who is supposed to be the Chief Legal Adviser in this administration doesn’t seem to deserve his license to operate as a legal practitioner anymore as he has become an embarrassment to the legal profession which he claims to represent. His credentials should be recalled and he should be sanctioned by the Body of Benchers.
The nonchalant attitude of the government which was displayed by the carefree speech delivered by the president has heightened the initial protests to full-blown riots in different parts of the country as we speak and the country is sliding rapidly into a state of anarchy. State governors are now giving counter directives to citizens of their states on what to do with the old notes and if different states are carrying out different policies as diverse and distinct from that at the centre then we can say that a state of anomie is imminent.
We at CACOL will like to use this medium to implore all stakeholders to respect the rule of law and the principle of separation of powers while urging the citizens to remain calm in the midst of the present uncertainties and allow the government to find a lasting solution to the present impasse.
Director, Administration and Programmes, CACOL