The Supreme Court verdict on old Naira notes is neither a victory for the governors who instituted the case against the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, nor a loss to the defendants. Rather, it is a restoration of order and hopefully a relief to the common man on the streets of Lagos, Kano, Enugu and across the nooks and crannies of the country.
In my opinion, this was going to happen to avoid further and undue social tension, as attention is likely to shift back to the hardship of this debacle. It’s just an unnecessary situation that put people through untold hardship.
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Innocent Nigerians should not be meant to pay for failure of institutions and systems. A big part of the Naira redesign, especially the timelines for implementation, was saliently or, perhaps, obviously political.
In some arguments, it made sense to checkmate vote buyin; but, on a holistic cost-benefit analysis, it was an undue punishment to innocent Nigerians, most of who are not guilty of trading their votes.
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Again, that is neither the logical nor sustainable way to stop voting buying and clearly the economics and social antics of the implementation was unduly unproductive for the Nigerian economy and the masses.
It only reinforces the need for a more robust process for development and execution of reforms in a practical way that delivers better outcomes to the Nigerian economy and its people. It also exposes the weakness of civil society organisations, many of which played mute or lame role in the face of the hardship that Nigerians suffered through the period.
Is Is Right For The Supreme Court To Interfere In Monetary Policy Issues?
The he Supreme Court is the apex court of the judiciary, responsible for interpreting the Constitution and the law. President Muhammadu Buhari relied on his powers derived from the Constitution and the law to act on the redesign of the Naira and we need to differentiate Naira redesign from monetary policies.
Naira redesign may affect monetary policy and may also have been an offshoot of monetary policy initiative but it is not a pure monetary policy, rather an administrative function of the CBN. Indeed, this is one of the thin lines that needs to be clarified and this is why the issue of the Naira redesign was neither a topical conversation at the monetary policy committee nor was it a resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). So, let’s be clear about this thin line.
In some climes, like the United States, the administration of currency, including the design, is not even handled by the monetary policy authority, rather it falls under the office of the Secretary of Treasury, just same way the Office of the Comptroller of Currencies supervises banks and other relevant financial institutions in the United States, whilst monetary policy issues are the prerogative of the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank.
So, notwithstanding the aggregated functions of the CBN, we need to get the monetary policy functions of the CBN clearly as different from its administrative as well as Supervisory functions. For instance, in matters of monetary policy, the CBN and broader MPC do not need to consult the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but for administrative functions such as Naira redesign, it needs to consult and indeed get the consent of the President, a power the President derives from the CBN Act and other relevant statutes and laws.
So, when such powers derived from law are interpreted by the judiciary as rightly or less rightly used, we should not embarrass the judiciary. It’s high time that we upheld our institutions, as we last take them accountable, rather than messing up our institutions in the global arena for whatever reasons.
Yes, the Nigerian institutions are not in the best form and shape, but we can’t repair them with emotions; rather, we should find rationale and acceptable ways to reform, enhance and strengthen them.
Significance of Supreme Court Verdict On Naira Redesign, Old Naira Notes
This decision of the Supreme Court is clearly a return to sanity and perhaps a reinforcing perspective that nobody is above the law.
Laws are made to enhance societies and policies should be implemented to achieve better outcomes for people and progress their standards rather than worsening it. The laws and institutions responsible for making, executing and prosecuting the laws should make it work for Nigerians and not the reverse case of Nigerians working for the law