By Yusuf Alli/The NationA show down is looming between the National Assembly and the Governor of the Central Bank (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi over his insistence to introduce the N5000 banknote.
The two chambers are due to resume from their annual recess on Tuesday with members determined to stop the introduction of the new banknote.
Influential members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are said to have been meeting to strategise on their move following the pronouncements of the CBN governor to forge ahead with the plan and his description of critics of the banknote as bad economists.
It was gathered that the NASS members are likely to first approach President Goodluck Jonathan to prevail on Mallam Sanusi to have a rethink on the policy.
The lawmakers, one source said, are angry that in spite of the opposition to the new note, the CBN is pressing ahead with its proposal to introduce the larger bill and convert the N20, N10 and N5 bills into coins as from 2013.
According to findings, the Senators and Reps met in Abuja last Wednesday and Thursday and resolved that their position on the matter has been strengthened by a recent survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The survey confirmed that 75.1 per cent of Nigerians are opposed to the currency restructuring. Only 16.1 per cent of the populace are in strong support of the CBN policy while 4.04 and 4.62 per cent are partially in support and against the currency restructuring policy respectively.
The anti-N5000 banknote federal lawmakers resolved to make the new note a major issue upon resumption from recess.
A source at the meetings said: “We have met and concluded that since the new note is unpopular, we will ask the CBN to stop the minting of the new currency.
“We won’t be part of any policy that will lead to inflation because the consequences will be too much for the economy. In a country, where people live on less than $2 in a day, it is not ideal at all.
“Definitely, we will overrule the CBN on this policy which is a contradiction of the cashless policy of the government.”
A principal officer of the House said: “Some of us have been meeting because the NBS survey has shown that it is not a popular policy. The economy is better run based on the interest of the citizenry.
“Why will a good government go against the popular wish of all Nigerians? We want to lay the card on the table on why the new note policy is ill-timed.”
A Senator from the South-East said: “Most of us prefer mass employment to minting of new notes. There is no point having a higher note without empowering Nigerians to spend it.
“The cost of producing the new note and coins, whether locally or abroad, can provide many jobs. This is a question of opportunity cost.”
On his part, a high-ranking Senator added: “Some of us are trying to prevail on the leadership of the National Assembly to hold dialogue with President Goodluck Jonathan to reverse the policy because it will hurt the economy.
“We want to try as much as possible to avoid a fresh row with the Executive. But if the President does not listen, we will pitch our tent with the masses.”