Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Coffin-bearing activists protest planned introduction of N5,000 (Punch)

The planned introduction of N5,000 note by the Central Bank of Nigeria received further knocks on Monday as rights activists carried coffin round Agege area of Lagos to protest the policy.

 The activists from Concerned Human Rights Nigeria, Civil Societies for Good Governance, Joint Action Front, United Action for Democracy, Gani Fawehinmi Foundation, United Middle Belt Youth Congress, among others, said the coffin signified the rejection and death of the policy.

The protesters, led by the National Coordinator, CHRN, Mr. Declan Ihekaire, began their procession from Funmilayo Bus Stop, Ipaja Road, Lagos, and trekked many kilometres.

As they passed through major roads and streets, they sang solidarity songs and waved placards.

The placards bore inscriptions such as “Nigerians do not need N5,000 note”, “Jonathan! Nigerians say no to N5,000 note; it is evil”, “Nigerians are wiser than Jonathan and his team”, “Sanusi – Mr. Central Bank; we thought you were wise”, among others.

The protest triggered more excitement when motorists, okada riders and pedestrians, carried away by the songs rendered by the protesters, followed suit.

Addressing journalists during the peaceful protest, Ihekaire said the planned introduction smacked of insensitivity on the part of the Federal Government.

He said, “The Federal Government wounded the masses through its ‘wicked’ fuel price hike, now is an attempt to bastardise our currency with no recourse to the masses. “Who told them that currency printing is the masses’ desire? I submit that this administration is lazy, wicked, callous and insensitive to the yearnings of the masses.” He said the N5,000 note was in conflict with the cashless policy of the administration.

According to Ihekaire, the aim of the cash-less policy is to ensure that cash level comes down and ensure cash holding by people is reduced.

He wondered that if the cash-less policy was in good faith, then the introduction of N5,000 denomination was inconsistent and unthinkable.

He said the purpose of the planned introduction was not for the masses but to enable large volumes of cash to be moved with ease by the privileged few.

Ihekaire said its introduction would encourage money laundering, corruption, ritual killing and armed robbery.

He urged the National Assembly to intervene to put a halt to the “obnoxious currency regime.”

The President, UMBYC, Mr. Abuka Onalo-Omababa, said the introduction of N5,000 was not the panacea for the problems in the land.

Onalo-Omababa said, “The printing of N5,000 cannot help us in any of the issues affecting the country such as insecurity, hunger, poverty, illiteracy and epileptic power supply.

“I think the whole exercise is an attempt to divert Nigerians’ attention from bad governance and other issues in the country.”

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