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CBN policy may frustrate military operations – NSA

The Office of the National Security Adviser has expressed fears that recent policies introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria may frustrate military operations, if not properly executed, as it will become difficult to pay officers on the battlefields.

The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), made this known while appearing before the House Ad Hoc Committee on the CBN’s Cashless Policy and to Extend the Timeframe of the Currency Swap in Abuja on Thursday.

The NSA who was represented by Rear Admiral Abubakar Mustapha stated that due to the “sensitivity of some of this information that will come out, bordering on security,” he would not want to divulge some details before the press.

Mustapha noted that he is a director in charge of an ONSA secretariat that conducts general security appraisal of elections and other security situations and exigencies in the office.

He also apologised to the committee “on behalf of my boss who is unavoidably absent.” He noted that Monguno was out of the country “on a very special meeting” and he was directed to represent the NSA.

Mustapha added, “But that being said, globally, military operations, even in the First World countries, such policies, if not properly thought out will affect some certain things where some of our soldiers are deployed to; in places where they cannot actually access digital means of paying for their daily subsistence, one of the main issues that the NSA has been talking about. It is important that this committee sits and articulate better ways of actually addressing these issues. He has directed a committee to write out his position to assist the (House) committee on its mandate.”

Majority Leader of the House and chairman of the committee, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, consequently asked that journalists and aides leave the Conference Room 301 venue of the meeting, while the closed-door meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

The committee invited the Director of Currency Operations, CBN, Ahmed Umar, over the revelations made by the Office of the NSA to the panel at its continued investigative hearing.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu; and the Managing Director, Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, Ahmed Halilu, who were to also appear before the committee on Thursday failed to show up.

Ado-Doguwa, who informed members that Ahmed and Halilu wrote the panel to seek rescheduling of their appearance, said they had been re-invited for 11am on Friday (today).

The committee had last week grilled the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, over the crisis caused by the redesign of some naira notes and the exchange of old naira notes with new ones by the populace.

The naira policy has attracted wide criticisms, especially due to scarcity of the new notes and its introduction close to the 2023 general election.

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Since then, Yakubu had met with the NSA and Emefiele over the matter.

Emefiele and Yakubu had also met with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on the crisis.

Emerging from the meeting, Ado-Doguwa said, “We took in confidence some of the responses that he gave, which, of course, will be very useful to the committee and, definitely, will guide the committee when it comes to writing the report that we will lay on the floor of the House of Representatives.

“By and large, I think it is only fair to say, whatever the case may be, that the position of the committee has not changed, even with the interface we had with the NSA, that the policy is unpopular, that the policy was untimely, that the policy did not take the benefit of wider consultations from various sectors and agencies of the government that were relevant with the subject matter.

“Of course, we will continue to engage with them. Perhaps, we will call the Central Bank Governor once again to address this Committee based on other points and facts we have extracted from the NSA,” he noted.

Ado-Doguwa hinted that the committee would invite the NSA again if needed to clarify some of the issues of concern that his representative had yet to address.

He said, “This brings me to the fact that some of the agencies we invited, even though we have taken their apologies for not coming either yesterday or today, apparently because of the gaps in communication, that does not give it to them that we will take it lightly for any reason for any other person to fail to appear before this committee tomorrow.

“We have scheduled the Nigerian Printing and Minting Company. Of course, I’ve spoken with him (the MD) on the phone. The clerk of the committee has spoken with him, so we will expect him unfailingly tomorrow.

“We are also expecting the Federal Ministry of Finance because it is a relevant agency that is very much important and key to the subject matter. The Ministry of Finance, through the minister, I believe they coordinate and direct the fiscal policy of the country, and this is a matter that has direct implications on our fiscal policy as it relates to the economy and the cashless policy that is being contemplated for whatever reason.

“So, the Ministry of Finance is very key and critical and we are giving them till tomorrow to appear before this all-important committee. And anybody failing to come, then, definitely, the House, through this committee, will definitely be forced to employ the means and instrumentality of the legislative tools to ensure their appearance before the committee.”

Earlier in his opening remarks, Ado-Doguwa noted that the committee was out to examine the impact of the CBN policy on the economy, security and the forthcoming 2023 general election.

“I think for the record, this is in continuation with our duties and mandates as an ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives on this singular matter of naira redesign and swap policy of the Federal Government,” he stated.


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