Shehu Sani, a former senator who once represented Kaduna central, said Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari has a limited understanding of economics.
Sani made this statement on Tuesday during an interview on Arise TV, where he also criticized the president’s naira redesign policy, which he believes has caused hardship for Nigerians.
Sani argued that the government should have engaged in broader consultations before implementing the policy, instead of just seeking the president’s approval.
He also expressed his view that the economic turbulence currently affecting the country is a consequence of human actions, rather than external factors.
“But what is wrong in this policy is that there should have been a wide consultation. It’s not simply about the CBN governor going to the president to get his approval over an issue that I believe that the president of the country has limited knowledge of because he is not an economist,” Sani said.
“Secondly, I expected that before such a decision was made, there could have been a wide consultation with the national assembly and also the civil societies. By doing that, you are carrying the whole country along and then ideas will be crystalised and then problems that may arise will be predicted and then they can be solved.
“But for now, all that we have known was that the governor of the central bank has made it very clear that all he needed was the approval of Mr President and then he got it and now everyone is paying the price.
“Well, to be fair, if this redesigning of the naira and the cashless policy is about combatting or containing vote-buying, that is a very good initiative. But the fallout or the consequences of it on the other side is that people are suffering, and you don’t know which of the notes to accept.
“They will tell you today you can use the old notes and you go to buy things the money is not available and if you have to use the cashless system, sometimes the alert doesn’t come in time and as such, the whole transaction in the country has become a problem.
“Even our communities in the border areas now are using currencies like the Cefa and other currencies from other countries and then as we have heard people in rural areas have resorted to trade by barter. So, we have just gotten ourselves into an economic turbulence that is man-made that is designed and then it could have been avoided.
“There was a time when we raised our voice and said you can redesign the naira, you can implement cashless policy, but why don’t you get ideas from the civil society, from traders, from marketers, from industrialists, from the economists, from the general public so that we would all be carried along and then everyone will now give his own input on how these issues can be tackled.
“And how can the people that have paraded themselves as experienced in managing finance, banks, and whatever get us to this kind of situation?”
Mr Sani has been a vocal critic of President Buhari and his administration, particularly on issues of governance and economic policies.
According to Sani, the decision to redesign the naira notes was a misplaced priority and a waste of resources, given the numerous economic challenges facing the country. He argued that the government should focus on improving the economy and providing basic amenities for Nigerians rather than changing the faces on the currency.
Sani’s criticism is part of a wider debate on the effectiveness of the Buhari administration’s economic policies, particularly in light of the country’s current economic challenges. Nigeria has been experiencing a significant economic downturn in recent years, with high inflation, rising unemployment, and a depreciation of the naira. Many Nigerians have expressed frustration at the government’s response to these challenges, including its monetary and fiscal policies, which they argue have not yielded positive results.
The CBN has defended the policy, stating that it is part of efforts to modernize the country’s currency and improve security features. However, critics like Sani argue that the policy is a misplaced priority and that the government should focus on more pressing issues affecting Nigerians.