A Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, has faulted the decision by the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) to redesign some denominations of the naira notes, saying it would make kidnappers ask for dollars and other foreign currencies as ransom.
One of the arguments in support of the redesign of the naira notes is that it would deny kidnappers who must have collected and kept huge amounts of money as ransom the ability to spend the money.
In a post on his verified Facebook page, Mr Gumi said the decision will also negatively affect several Nigerians because most people depend on cash transactions.
He argued that the country needs a free market-driven economy with little cash flow control.
“As for the question of starving kidnappers of naira, it goes without saying that they will resort to dollars and other hard currencies which will further put more pressure on it making the rotten situation bad-der.
Kidnapping can only be stopped by robust policing, social justice for all, and equitable wealth distribution. Any cosmetic measures will not stop it.”
Mr Gumi added that even the decision to ban motorcycle operations, the sale of petrol and the blockage of communication didn’t bring an end to banditry in the North, arguing it only made the populace suffer.
Nigeria is experiencing a kidnap-for-ransom epidemic with thousands of people abducted across the country. The North-west region, where Mr Gumi is based, is perhaps the worst affected with terrorist groups running industrial-scale kidnap-for-ransom franchises.
Mr Gumi has also been caught in the centre of the kidnapping menace. He has made controversial statements and is known to take photo ops with some of the most notorious terrorists in the region. Mr Gumi’s closeness with these terror groups has led to calls for his arrest.
In September, Mr Gumi’s media consultant, Tukur Mamu, was arrested in Egypt on his way to lesser hajj and returned to Nigeria over the claim that he was working with the terrorists behind the Kaduna train abduction in March. He is still being held by the State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria’s secret police.
Mr Manu negotiated the release of several of the hostages before his arrest. Mr Gumi also criticised the government over the arrest of Mr Mamu.
The Islamic cleric also said the redesign will place the northern region at a disadvantage at the wrong end of it because it’s “poorly represented in the banking sector.
“As for the North which is poorly represented in the banking system, it’s a sure economic suicide. How many Nigerians have access to banks? How many do have the privilege to enjoy the most simple of banking loans? You need to know someone to get a loan is no news. In such a Nigeria, with this tight control of cash flow, the nation is treading towards communism and dictatorship,” he said.
Mr Gumi said 80 per cent of Nigerians are poor and depend on cash transactions and the redesign would affect their activities.
He said the federal government should have introduced the policy in 2015 for the administration to also feel the impact of its decision not to push it to the next administration.
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