At a meeting Tuesday night, President Goodluck Jonathan begged Senate President, David Mark, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, not to disgrace him over the controversial plan to introduce a denomination of 5000 naira.
A source in the Presidency and other sources close to Mr. Mark and Mr. Tambuwal told SaharaReporters that the president made the plea during a meeting with the legislative duo shortly after the two chambers of the legislature passed resolutions demanding that Mr. Jonathan rescind the authorization he gave to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of Central Bank, to print N5,000 note.
The president reportedly granted the approval five months ago without the knowledge of lawmakers.
One of our sources said that the president felt that, should he retreat now, he would be perceived as weak and easily intimidated by members of the National Assembly and Nigerians opposed to the introduction of the naira denomination. The policy has been roundly criticized by many Nigerian groups, including labor activists, church leaders, and economists.
A source familiar with the meeting told SaharaReporters that Mr. Jonathan cajoled Mr. Mark and Mr. Tambuwal. “He kept saying to the Senate President and Speaker that he felt he was being dictated to. He kept saying that the National Assembly and some Nigerians were out to intimidate him. Then he looked at them [Mr. Mark and Mr. Tambuwal] and said, ‘Please, please, don’t disgrace me.’”
Mr. Jonathan specifically asked the legislative officials to ensure that the two chambers withdraw their motions on the issue.
A source close to Mr. Mark told SaharaReporters that the two legislators showed little sympathy to the president’s pleas. “They [Senate President and the Speaker] told President Jonathan that they were in a better position to tell him about the feelings of Nigerians towards the policy,” said the source.
He added that the legislators counseled Mr. Jonathan to abandon his support for the proposed currency denomination so as not to risk more battering to his image. “They told Mr. President to act without delay in putting a halt to the plan,” the source said.