2023: Reactions Trail CBN’s Cash Withrawal Limit, Election Bodies Disagree With Politicians, Say The Policy Can’t Stop Vote Buying
Several reactions have continued to trail the recent cash withdrawal limits to be implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on 9 January 2023.
Some of the reactions have come from the camp of various political parties and some politicians who have claimed the policy was targeted at politicians and to restrict the flow of funds ahead of the 2023 general election.
However, Naija News gathered that complaints by politicians that the reintroduction of the cash withdrawal limits will create logistic problems were kicked against by some election bodies.
According to some of the election bodies in the country, they disagree with the agitation of political parties on the policy, because they feel it won’t affect politicians and their parties in any way.
Their reaction is against the backdrop that some political parties like Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), Africa Democratic Congress(ADC) and African Democratic Party (ADP) have contended that the policy would affect the fundraising required by the candidates to sustain their campaigns ahead of the 2023 elections.
Naija News learnt that the National Chairman of the Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu told Punch ‘’How do you expect the ADC candidate to have the cash to do the things he wants to do and how do you think that this is the best time for such an undertaking?
‘’We have almost 200,000 agents that we must pay and 80 per cent of them live in rural areas. Is it that N2,000 or N5,000 that you pay them that you would transfer to each of them? How many of them have such a facility? So it’s completely inconsiderate of them.
‘’We want to believe that the intention this time is also political. It is not only affecting the election but will affect the general way of living in Nigeria.”
The factional National Publicity Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Alpha Muhammed also told the Punch ’’You cannot overnight bring a policy that will seriously affect a project as big as the general elections.
‘’Definitely, cash has to move, people have to pay for logistics; you have to give cash to agents, you have to give cash to those who will transport people to rallies. It will definitely affect the success of the election and the campaign itself.’’
On his part, National Chairman and Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Party(ADP), Sani Yabagi, told Punch that “I think the government is trying to control the flow of money in circulation. We have all agreed that vote buying and selling is a cankerworm to our democracy. So, if the intention of the government is to curb the use of cash for vote buying, this will be good news for everyone.
“But will this not amount to killing an ant with a sledgehammer? Again, which is better: the medicine or the sickness? Government must think about this again particularly as it would affect the logistics of all the political parties.”
Naija News gathered that the National Chairman of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), Chief Dan Nwayanwu, told Punch on Sunday “As far as the parties are concerned, we are okay. Let those who stashed billions of naira in tanks bring them out. They should have the courage to bring them out. It is good to note that over N500bn have been returned in the past two weeks. Maybe before the elections, trillions will be returned to the banks.’’
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Oye also opined that “The poor will be affected no doubt but this is just a temporary measure. It is not going to last. It is part of the process to make the transition to the new currency seamless. The pain and difficulty will ease out very soon.
“Of course, it will take time for poor Nigerians to get used to this but they will eventually embrace it. Let me also add here that this is a process in the journey to a cashless economy. There will be a question or two about the timing, particularly with elections around the corner. Still, the rich and the poor should support it.’’
Naija News recalls that the Director, of Strategic Communications, National Election Management Committee of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Chief Dele Momodu, said: “if enforced, the policy will strangulate the political process, not the PDP alone.”
Momodu queried that “In 2014/2015, I am sure if (President) Buhari had no access to funding, he would never have been the President of Nigeria. There are people who are making contributions to the political parties and some parties have set up structures to receive support from people. How then will they be able to access the fund if they are saying you cannot withdraw more than N100, 000 a week?’’
Contrary to the stand of the PDP, the spokesman of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, explained that the Labour Party (LP) would support any policy that would bring a positive change and oppose anti-people programmes.
While the spokesman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) Ladipo Johnson, admitted that the policy could cause some inconveniences, but it would not affect fundraising by parties, noting that donors could utilise online platforms to send cash to the parties of their choice.
The presidential candidate of the African Action Alliance (AAA), Omoyele Sowore said ’The policy targets the poor, not powerful political figures and parties anyway.”
But the spokesman of the Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, declined to comment on the matter when Punch reached out to him.
He said “For now, I decline to give any comment on that. We have not met formally to take a position on the issue.”
Meanwhile, Naija News gathered that in his reaction to the complaints by the parties, the Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group, Musa Rafsanjani, maintained that the policy would not affect politicians and their parties.
Rafsanjani was of the view that even though the policy was to sort of curb vote trading, politicians would still go around it and buy votes during the election.
He noted that “We all know that for the big politicians, this policy is not going to affect them because the bank, the same Central Bank will provide money for them to do their own campaigns.
‘’The big politicians, who are into vote trading, have ways in which they can blow (bypass) this policy because they can hide under so many identities to get money from the CBN.
‘’This policy will not affect them. The only people who will be affected are the rural people who don’t have access to the Internet, who don’t have access to android phones, and who do not know how to even transfer.’’
The Executive Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, who also disagreed with politicians, explained that the policy would not affect parties’ fundraising, instead, it might help to at least level the playing field for all parties involved.
She also submitted that “Maybe it will even be better because while people are supposed to pay into bank accounts, any physical transfer of cash that is moved will allow for monitoring and will disadvantage one party against the other.
‘’So, maybe proportionally, as it comes to the parties, it might create a level playing field, since we can see where the money is going to, and who is giving them.
‘’It will now have to pass through the banking system, somehow reducing the role of money in politics. But the real casualties are the ordinary Nigerians who are largely unbanked and live in rural areas.”