…Gov. says protest, violence in Benin over CBN cashless policy politically-motivated
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Thursday, met with officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and members of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents of Nigeria (AMMBAN) in the State to strategize on how to disburse cash to ease tension and ameliorate the hardship faced by Edo people in accessing redesigned naira notes.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, the governor noted that the Wednesday protests and violence in Benin City, which led to the destruction of properties in the metropolis didn’t happen by accident but were sponsored by selfish politicians to cause crisis and disaffection in the state.
Expressing displeasure over the sad incident, Obaseki said, “During the electioneering, the practice of the opposition party is to create disaffection and cause trouble in the state. This happened during my own reelection campaign in 2020. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is not the one that created the policy but our focus is on Edo people. The protest in the state yesterday was beyond anger but it was politically motivated.”
“The security agencies are already working hard on arresting those involved in the destruction across some Benin City. There is a lot of footage and those involved will be arrested and prosecuted,” the governor assured.
Obaseki noted that there are more money agents than bank branches in Edo State, urging the AMMBAN members to collaborate with the government and CBN to address the situation, adding, “The POS operators have a bad reputation, which must be corrected. If you have members charging customers above the normal price for their transactions, there should be an internal mechanism to deal with such issues. You must first regulate yourself and your association before you can help address this shortage of cash issue.”
He further charged the CBN officials to fund more POS operators with cash to help reduce the tension in the state over cash shortage, noting, “We would like the CBN to immediately fund more POS operators as much as possible as they go into the markets with the necessary security to address the cash shortage since banks are not opened and they are the only banks available for now. Please, we want you to double the number of POS operators to enable them address the issue.”
Urging residents to support and embrace the federal government’s cashless policy, Obaseki said, “This is where Nigeria is headed. The push for a cashless economy has not been properly driven. As leaders, we must accept responsibilities and work hard to reduce the tension in the country.”
In his response, the Chairman of AMMBAN in Edo State, Mr. Osaro Ekhator expressed appreciation to the governor for the meeting, assuring the support of members of the association to bring a lasting solution to the current cash crisis.
He stated, “We are affected, our livelihood has been affected, our shops were burnt during this period. Our members have been arrested severally due to transactions and businesses carried out but the State identity card your administration has embarked on will solve the problem as it will become easy for us to identify our customers through this process.
“The streetlight project you have embarked on in the state has prolonged our time of doing business and we are safe doing our businesses as we can see clearly all those transacting businesses with us. We also commend you for the internet connectivity you have brought to the State through the connection of fibre optic cables across the state. It will help our business because we depend on the internet for our transactions.”
The Controller of the Benin branch of the CBN, Renner Jumbo assured that the bank will release more cash to POS operators to ease the pain and tension of customers in Edo State, adding that the banks have refused to open following the destruction of their properties, adding, “The POS operators are very important at this time.