GOVERNOR Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, yesterday, said the rejection of the old naira notes by traders and business owners is flagrant disobedience to the law.
The governor, in a statewide broadcast in Akure, lamented that “rejecting the old naira notes will inflict and sustain a needless pain on the people and customers.”
Akeredolu, however, urged the citizenry to embrace and accept the old notes alongside the new notes, as ruled by the Supreme Court.
His words: “It is, therefore, of great concern to me that a large section of our people in the state, particularly traders in our markets, taxi and bus drivers, barbers, auto mechanics and artisans are rejecting the old naira notes thereby, inflicting and sustaining a needless pain on their fellow citizens and customers.
“This is unfortunate and unexpected. It is a flagrant disobedience to the law and the Central Bank directives.
“I, therefore, wish to inform you that the rejection of the old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes by us will do us no good.
“It will stifle our local trade and business transactions, weaken our economy and cause us great harm and avoidable troubles.
“I, hereby, use this opportunity to appeal to you all, my good people of Ondo State, to embrace and accept the old notes alongside the new notes as stipulated by law.
“Let us not create needless tension over the matter. Please collect, spend and exchange the old notes without let or hindrance.
“It is imperative that I address you because of the need to halt a self-induced pain currently being experienced by us all in the state. This is on account of the circulation and use of the old naira notes in our economy.
“Credible information reaching me indicates that quite a large number of residents of the state are denied the use of the old currency notes issued by the Central bank of Nigeria.
“This comes in form of rejection of the old notes as legal tender and means of exchange for goods and services, particularly by traders, artisans, transporters, farmers and a large percentage of the operators of the informal sector of our economy in Ondo State.
“This development is unfortunate, undesirable and uncalled for. This is because the matter of legitimacy and return into circulation of all old naira notes in the nation’s economy has been settled permanently by the Supreme Court of Nigeria and also backed up by the appropriate instruments of implementation by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“Our people will recall that the Apex Court, in its recent judgement had among others, ruled that the old currency notes must remain as a legal tender in exchange for goods and services in the nation.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the judgment ordered that both the new and old notes should not only coexist but be accepted and used side by side by all Nigerians until the end of this year when the proper elimination and substitution of the old currency notes would have been completed.
“The Supreme Court judgement implies that it removes the daily pain, discomfort and trauma being faced by the people of this country occasioned by the scarcity of the new notes.
“It is also geared towards ensuring stability, strength and vitality for our economy, particularly the informal economy which involves, on daily basis, the largest number of our people at the grassroots.”
He, however, justified the governors’ decision to drag the Federal Government to the Supreme Court over the naira redesign.
He said: “If we may recall that from the onset of the Federal Government’s policy of Naira swap, our position as a state, was unambiguous. We not only condemned the idea and process of implementation of the policy, we also canvassed for its total abrogation, given its timing and methodology.
“We insisted on the need for the Federal Government to resolve the introduction of the cashless policy in favour of the common man. We did this because we believe the fundamental objective of Government must be to see to the welfare and security of the people at all times.
“It is not to inflict or add more to their pains. We believe the people must be happy and free to live their lives legitimately without any pain, discomfort or trauma.”