Besides, it has also raised the issue of who is actually in control and whether policy summersault and reversals will not further compound the challenges being faced on daily basis, occassioned by scarcity of naira notes, fuel, heightened insecurity and lack of electricity.
According to some Nigerians, the speech may become another subject of litigation as it neither talks about possible out-of-court settlement or defined steps at ensuring that Naira notes become accessible to ordinary people.
They also argue that if the exercise, was partly to checkmate vote buying, terrorism financing and money laundering, among others, whether the reintroduction of the N200 notes will alleviate the suffering of Nigerians who keep vigils at bank premises now or select the queues to join on daily basis for cash, fuel, among others.
Consequently, some Nigerians have criticised President Buhari after his speech directing the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allow the use of N200 old naira notes as legal tender.
Specifically, Buhari in a national broadcast aired on national stations ordered CBN to allow the old 200 naira notes and redesigned 200, 500, and 1000 naira notes to coexist.
“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 Feb. 10, 2023 to April 10 2023,” Buhari said.
“In line with Section 20(3) of the CBN Act 2007, all existing old N1000 and N500 notes remain redeemable at the CBN and designated points.”
Buhari in October 2022 approved the CBN’s request to redesign the Nigerian currency notes – and phase out the old naira notes by the end of January 2023. He later gave an extension till Friday, February 10.
On February 8, the supreme court temporarily restrained the federal government from banning the use of the old naira notes from February 10, 2023, pending the hearing of the matter on February 15, which was later adjourned till February 22.
However, against the ruling, Buhari has only allowed the use of old N200 notes while the N500 and N1000 notes remain illegal.
Nigerians reacting to the new directive said it is a violation of the Supreme Court order, adding that it is an intentional act to create more hardship for common citizens.
This is because, they say, the development could lead to arguments on mundane issues at the expense of the welfare of the citizens, whose lives and living are being threatened on daily basis.
They further argue that from all indications, Buhari, though, may have good intention, may have been teleguided as some of these policy measures may not have been well thought out.
“If the president wants to leave real and enduring legacy, his actions should be in line with the constitution of the land as well as seen to be fair to all concerned, and not to wait for the citizens to experience serious hardship and then come later to announce some measures he considers as remedial and claiming to be sympathizing with the citizens.”
According to Friday Ameh, Nigerians are more confused with the address as to whether it was meant to pacify the governors and some politicians or really to alleviate the suffering of the masses.
According to Ameh, the fact that the issue is still in court makes mockery of everything because, according to him, the president should have stuck to his gun till after the elections, particularly, presidential, before introducing the do called palliative.”
The argument of most Nigerians is that the effect of the reintroduction of the N200 notes may not be felt by the intended citizens and therefore may only assist politicians who are desperately looking for notes for their selfish interests.
“Nigerians have been making sacrifices and the most annoying aspect is that reprieve would not come even after the end of the day, but rather, the rich would become richer and the poor, poorer,” says another concerned citizen.