Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba political organisation, has urged the government and other interested parties to keep the election scheduled for next month and the handover date set for May 29, 2023.
The group also voiced its dismay over the difficulties that ordinary Nigerians are having as a result of the shortages of both fuel and new naira notes.
In a press release issued by its national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere stated once again that the elections scheduled for February/March are unmovable.
The group claims that the dates are necessary because of concerns voiced by Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) spokesman Dr Hakeem Baba-Hamed, about the possibility of using the court to thwart the election process and the hardships being inflicted on Nigerians, the consequences of which might be used to jeopardise the ongoing civil rule.
They claimed that the continued insecurity and increased difficulty in obtaining fuel, new Naira notes, and other forms of energy (including power, gas, kerosene, and diesel) were evidence of “the contrived pains.”
Because of the ongoing problems in these regions, Afenifere warned that Nigerians’ “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 pointed out that on January 27, ACF Director of Publicity and Advocacy Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed had said that there have been rumours that the scheduled elections might not take place and that “some kind of unconstitutional contraption might be forced on Nigerians after May this year.” Afenifere cited the ACF secretary.
As ACF has warned, “Nigerians will not accept to live under any arrangement that offends the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” and the group has said it agrees with that sentiment.
As Afenifere put it, “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 and the peaceful handing-over to the winner,” despite the group’s fervent advocacy for a constitution that will usher in a Restructured Nigeria.
The group argued that the government’s insistence on putting Nigerians through hell in the days leading up to the CBN governor’s announcement that the deadline for the swap of currency notes would be extended from January 31 to February 10 was indicative of a pattern of deliberately putting the people through unnecessary hardship.
“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 stated.
It stated that getting new notes at teller windows, ATMs, or point-of-sale terminals was challenging.
Nonetheless, Afenifere acknowledged the delay in the deadline’s implementation until February 10, with the group claiming that the suffering and losses endured by Nigerians over the past week could have been averted “had the extension of the deadline been 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.”
To prevent a repeat of the events of the previous two weeks, the organisation stressed the importance of rapidly stocking banks and other distribution points with new notes.
Despite claims by CBN Governor Mr Godwin Emefiele that the new currency policy is directed at individuals “holding illicit/stolen naira in their homes for speculative purposes,” Afenifere has argued that the policy is hurting the poor.
Afenifere noted that there are other institutional and legal frameworks to deal with this if the authorities intended to use the policy to catch individuals supposedly hoarding illicit, stolen money in their vaults.
“For instance, there is the aspect of the law that prescribes that banks must notify security agencies once a person or an organisation 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 group urged.