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Monday, December 11, 2023

Naira Crunch may disrupt polls, INEC warns Central Bank

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The Naira Crunch, which has disrupted economic activities in the economy and stifled the free flow of goods and services, and fractured transactions has the potential to disrupt this February Polls, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has warned.

Naira Crunch is an artificial scarcity of the Nigerian national currency due to acts of omission by the controlling agency, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said this during a meeting with the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele at the CBN headquarters, in Abuja, on Tuesday.

He explained that many service providers to INEC had no bank accounts.

He, therefore, solicited the support of the apex bank to address the concern related to the CBN cash withdrawal policy which has caused chaos across the country.

Explaining his concern to the CBN chief, Yakubu said the service providers needed to be paid fully or partly, adding that there were fears about the withdrawal limits.

He said, “The Nigerian election is a huge and complex one. It requires the engagement of critical services and in line with the provisions of the exchange laws and regulations, service providers are generally paid by means of electronic transfer to their accounts.

“However, there are crucial areas such as transportation and human support services that have to be immediately enumerated, either partially or in full because services are rendered.

“In addition, emergency situations may arise requiring immediate cash payments. Some of the critical service providers are unbanked. Over the years we have worked with the Central Bank of Nigeria and commercial banks to pay for such services seamlessly during general elections, as well as off-cycle and by-elections.

“Over the years, the commission has migrated all its accounts at national and state levels to CBN and this arrangement has worked without hindrances to our activities.

“In view of the recent policy involving the redesigning of some denominations of our currencies and the limit on cash withdrawals and availability, we consider this meeting important in addressing some of our areas of concern with just 17 days to the 2023 general elections.

‘’We are confident that an aspect of this meeting will reduce the anxiety expressed by some of our service providers. We are determined to make the 2023 general election one of the best elections in Nigeria but we cannot do it alone. That is why the commission is mobilising every critical national institution for the success of the election.”

This is, however, not the first time that INEC would express fear about the conduct of the election, the first was due to escallating violence against its infrstructure across the country.

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