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Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has said that the apex bank would not let itself be used or seen as an agent to stop the upcoming elections.
Emefiele promised that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would get the naira notes it needed from the central bank.
The CBN governor gave this promise on Tuesday in Abuja when he met with a group from INEC led by its chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
Emefiele said that the relationship between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) began before he became governor and is based on trust and confidence.
He said that the central bank was glad that INEC and the Nigerian people had faith and trust in the CBN’s ability to play the roles it had played for you so far to ensure that elections went smoothly.
Emefiele said that up until now, the CBN had been in charge of storing election materials for INEC and had used its armoured bullion van to move these materials.
He said, “We are happy that we have not disappointed you in this relationship, and that is why you have called me again this time. Now, aside from the issue of storage of election materials together with transportation of election materials from CBN locations to your own specific or designated locations.
“I know that just a few months ago, I visited your office, and you raised the issue of how foreign exchange can be procured for you to import Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and other forms of election material that need to be imported, and I gave you my word that foreign exchange will be provided for that purpose.
“I stand here to confirm that as of today, all Dollars needed to import those items have been provided, and those items have been imported. So, it’s all part of our commitment.
“Now, this issue of logistics for people who are going to be transporting election materials, indeed, the assurance I give to you is that because we regard the INEC project as a topmost or an urgent national assignment, and therefore, it cannot fail, and the Central Bank would not allow itself either to be used or to be seen as an agent that frustrated a positive outcome of that election.
“So I stand here to give you that commitment. You have been responsible in the past anyway; it’s not just about cash; you’ve made electronic payments before, and if, in this case, after completing your electronic payments, you require some money to pay transporters in cash, the assurance I give to you is that we will make it available, so it’s nothing to worry about.
“I will make sure that I do not allow ourselves as Central Bank to be seen as an agent that frustrated positive outcome of the elections,” Emefiele said.
Earlier, INEC’s chairman said the commission was encouraged by the apex bank’s continued willingness to support the commission’s goal of holding credible elections on February 25 and March 11, 2023. This is especially true when it comes to ensuring that activities needed for the success of the elections are carried out in a way that only the CBN can.
The chairman said that the Nigerian election is a big, complicated job that needs the help of essential services.
According to the laws and rules already in place, Yakubu said that most service providers are paid by electronic transfer to their bank accounts.
He said, though, that other areas, like transportation and human support services, are just as essential and must be paid for right away, either in whole or in part before services are given.
The chairman said that emergencies could require immediate cash payments and that some essential service providers don’t have bank accounts.
Yakubu said that over the years, the commission has worked with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks to make it easy to pay for these services during general elections and by-elections.
He also said that the commission has moved all of its accounts at the national and state levels to the CBN. He said that this has not slowed down our work in any way.
The chairman said, “In view of the recent policy involving the redesign of some denominations of our national currency, and the limits placed on cash withdrawals, we consider this meeting necessary in addressing some of the areas of concern with just 17 days to the 2023 General Election.
“We are confident that arising from this meeting, we can assuage the anxiety expressed by some of our service providers. We are determined to make the 2023 general election one of the best-organised 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 meeting is part of this effort.”
At the office of the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, Yakubu said that security was the most important thing for the general election in 2023, which is only 16 days away.
The chairman said, “We want to welcome the assurances from the National security adviser, the Chief of Defence, the Inspector general of police and (other) security agencies.
“We are aware that additional security has been deployed to our facilities nationwide. We also note the increasing tempo of activities in many troubled spots nationwide. We are confident that these actions will further reassure voters, our personnel, service providers, stakeholders of their safety during elections and free, fair and peaceful process. We look forward to a comprehensive plan for the deployment of security personnel.”
In response, Monguno said that the security agencies are on the ground.
He said that all security agencies are up to the task and promised that Nigerians could vote peacefully.
“We know what we’ve done,” he said. “We are sure of what we have on the ground. All of us here who are security managers in the electoral process know what we’re doing.
“We are not in any way in doubt, but we need to let the entire country know that agents of bad news peddling all kinds of stories around; we see these on social media. If these are intended to scare people, I want to dispel such illusions.
“Everybody that is concerned in carrying out his legitimate undertaking, casting his or her vote will do so in a secured atmosphere. It’s very important that Nigerians are not pushed to the limit where they will abandon their number one responsibility as citizens. All security agencies are up to the task.”