Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje yesterday announced the postponement of the earlier scheduled visit by President Muhammadu Buhari to commission some projects, citing security reasons but interpreted in some quarters as a move to avoid a repeat of last Thursday’s protest by some Katsina residents to register their displeasure over the difficulties ongoing currency swap is causing in the nation when the President visited his home state.
After redesigning the country’s currency, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave Nigerians till Tuesday to swap their old Naira notes for new ones.
However, many Nigerians complain that it is difficult to obtain the new notes because they can only be obtained through ATMs rather than bank desks.
Long lines at ATM locations have unavoidably resulted from the process, despite complaints about the limited availability of the new notes and their impact on corporate operations.
Africa Today News, New York reports that sometime last week indicated that many communities across Nigeria had started rejecting the old Naira as legal tender regardless of the slow injection of the new notes into circulation.
Alarmed by the development, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, begged the CBN to extend the deadline for the cessation of the old Naira as legal tender.
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Meanwhile, Buhari appeared to have waded into the swap chaos, yesterday, when he assured that government will eliminate the squeeze.
The President had scheduled to visit Kano tomorrow to commission projects executed by the Ganduje administration.
The projects include a new bridge/ interchange, 10 megawatts independent hydropower project, a multi-billion naira ultra-modern cancer centre, the Dala Dry Inland Port and solar power projects.
Others are the 700 teachers’ housing estate and the Dangote Ultra-modern Skill Acquisition Center.
Ganduje confirmed that the state had written to the Presidency that the visit had been aborted during interactive sessions with scholars, legislators, political leaders and the business community in the state at Government House, Kano.
The governor, according to a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Abba Anwar, said the decision was taken to avoid any unforeseen circumstances.
‘As we are waiting for this important visit, we found ourselves in this situation which puts citizens into untold hardship. For security purposes we wrote to Presidency that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Kano is postponed’, he said.
‘We got an acknowledgement copy of the letter. People are really suffering because of this policy.’
‘There are no banks in most of our rural communities. How these people get new Naira notes is of great concern. Just look at what is happening in our urban areas, people go and spend hours upon hours in banks. And without any assurances of getting the new notes.’
Even at Point of Sale (POS), according to the governor, one cannot transact with ease, hinting that many of them closed shops due to uncertainty.
He emphasised that Kano, being a commercial hub, must be heard loudly.
‘This problem affects all of us. Therefore our voice must be heard in all nooks and crannies. We are a commercial hub. As such our position must be loud and clear’, the governor stated.
Ganduje stressed that, under one platform, governors, without consideration of party affiliation, sent delegates to Buhari complaining to him about the hardship caused by the new development.