Some economists have urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling, making the old naira notes to remain as legal tender till Dec. 31.
The experts made the urge in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos, while commending the apex court’s judgement on the old naira notes.
According to them, the time frame given by the Supreme Court will provide an opportunity for the CBN to re-assess the policy.
They noted that it would also give the bank an opportunity to improve on its implementation without causing distortions to the economy.
NAN reports that the Supreme Court also nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy, declaring it as an affront to the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, who read the lead judgement, held that the preliminary objections by the defendants (the Attorney General of the Federation, Bayelsa and Edo states) are dismissed as the court has the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
Citing Section 23(2)1 of the constitution, the court held that the dispute between the Federal Government and states must involve law or facts.
Akpan Ekpo, Professor of Economics and Public policy at the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, described the judgment as “a correct one’’.
“It is a correct judgment. No country introduces or redesigns a new currency in three months; it is usually for a period of at least 18 months.
“We had argued earlier, even before the Supreme Court judgement, that both currencies should circulate side by side till the old notes are no longer available.
“The untold hardship was unnecessary. I hope the old denominations are still available. The judgement of the apex court must be obeyed,’’ he said.
Prof. Hassan Oaikhenan of the Department of Economics, University of Benin, said that the judgment which was expected, would bring the much needed succour to the citizenry.
“The judgement, in my view, was expected, given the outcome of the Presidential election held last week. The lawyers are, however, the best to dissect the judgment.
“However, a layman will assert that it is further evidence of the political nature of the judgements from the judiciary and more painfully so, the Supreme Court, which has, deliberately or otherwise, knowingly or unknowingly, created very serious credibility crisis and indeed, serious crisis of confidence for itself before the discerning and even the not-so-discerning public.
“By this judgement, the affected currencies, expectedly, will continue to be legal tenders and will thus be used to consummate economic transactions.
“It is expected that the harsh and extremely untold hardship that the citizens have had to contend with since the naira redesign policy was put in place by the CBN, will be ameliorated with this judgement, thus bringing the much needed succour to the citizenry,’’ he said.
Uchenna Uwaleke, a Professor of Finance and Capital market at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, also urged the CBN to obey the ruling.
“Doing so will help revive economic activities and reduce the current difficulties being experienced by Nigerians on account of the policy,’’ he said.
Nevertheless, he said that the CBN had recorded some achievements in terms of the objectives it set out to achieve.
“The reduction in huge cash circulating outside the commercial banks, the surge in electronic transactions, and increase in financial Inclusion are part of the achievements recorded thus far.
However, Prof. Ndubisi Nwokoma, Director, Centre for Economic Policy Analysis and Research, University of Lagos, in his view, said there should be a clear demarcation of powers for the operation of the apex bank.
“My take is that this issue, which is largely economic, has been muddled up with lots of politics and legality.
“The conduct of monetary policy is entirely within the purview of the central bank.
“So, does it mean that, going forward, the Supreme Court has to approve every monetary policy decision taken by the Central Bank?
“There’s need for a clear demarcation of powers for the operation of the apex bank,’’ Nwokoma said.