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Supreme Court and Redesigned Naira: Transitoriness of power



Supreme Court and Redesigned Naira: Transitoriness of power
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We promised in our last article that touched on Naira redesign suit at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, then-adjourned till March 3 for judgement, that “…..we will continue to monitor proceedings at [the court]…..” On March 3, the court gave its judgement. We will quote, copiously, from March 3 Premium Times’ report, thus: “The supreme court has extended the validity of the [old] N200, N500, and N1,000 notes till 31 December, [2023]. A seven-member panel of the court led by John Okoro unanimously directed that the [Central Bank of Nigeria] must continue to receive the old notes from Nigerians. The court held that the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for the redesign of the new notes and withdrawal of the old notes without due consultation is invalid. Emmanuel Agim, a member of the panel, who read the lead judgement, also condemned the president’s disobedience of the court’s 8 February order that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes should continue to circulate alongside the new ones. He said the president’s broadcast of 16 February that only [the old] N200 notes should remain legal tender made Nigeria’s democracy look like a mere pretension while democracy is replaced with autocracy.”

We need to state, here and now, that we are not unaware of arguments/counter-arguments on the above-mentioned apex court’s judgement. We will leave the contending positions for lawyers that we are not! Even so, as non-lawyers, we know that this judgement is now the position of the law regarding the issue; except this same court deems it fit to exercise its exclusive power of overruling itself. Certainly, this power belongs to this court ONLY! Yes, judges in law courts are humans capable of erring; this might be one of the reasons why the late Justice Chukwudifu Akunne Oputa once stated – concerning the supreme court – in a decided case, that “We are final not because we are infallible; rather we are infallible because we are final”. Therefore, we believe that the burden of making a supreme court TRULY supreme is one to be sincerely borne if this court is to be worthy of its name in terms of interpreting law, and finality of it, in a country. Moving forward, there are some questions to be asked; who is/are to be held responsible for the hullabaloo generated by the policy of Naira redesign and swap that went into a legal tussle? How can those who were emotionally and mentally disturbed as a result of the poorly-implemented policy be compensated? What of lives/properties that were lost owing to this policy? Where do we go from here?

The questions above have answers implicit in them; so, you may consider them as purely rhetorical. We have said, times without number, that many Nigerians rate themselves low and most times also disrespect their compatriots; so it should not come as a total surprise that their governments do not have respect for them! Nigeria is one, (probably the worst), of the countries where governments treat ‘citizens’ as slaves! The painful aspect is that these Nigerian ‘citizens’ (displaying the mentality of a conquered people) will always find ways to explain their enslavement away! You hear, in Nigerian Pidgin, statement like “no be only Naija things like dis dey happen”. They like sweeping problems under the carpet expecting solutions to them from the outer space. Undoubtedly, there are Nigerians that are not ready to key into modernity! So, why will rogue politicians not want them to go through 15th/16th centuries developmental cycle in the 21st? Unfortunately, some in ‘serious’ but ‘unholy’ climes, where stolen public money from Nigeria are daily being hidden, are observing us the way they watch muppets! This is a sad narrative that is truly true!

Looking at the earlier-mentioned judgement by the country’s apex court, irrespective of the controversy and differing opinions, it should be easy to clearly see the transitoriness of political power and associated unregulated use of brute force by dictatorial-minded people occupying time-bound political offices. This is always a reality where a modicum of sanity can still be aimed at, and achieved! It is said, and we believe, that everything that has a beginning has an ending. However, do those currently holding political power, at all levels, realise this? See how the uncultured, uncouth and haughty dunderheads, like those at the centre (especially the traitorous Okija oaths-swearing jester), were “misfiring” talking down on others as if being in political office is forever. Surely, it is not! We hope those hankering to take over from today’s occupants of political offices will depart from the existing nonsensical ways! Shameful but expectedly, politicians do not learn from history! Except few, we do not believe they are different, today, but expect to be convinced later, especially if, and when, electorate’s capacity might have been deliberately well-enhanced to be able to vote politicians in, and out, of offices – willingly and unhindered.

This capacity is a known feasible measure – anywhere – that can reliably assist in ‘coercing’ rogue politicians to do the ‘right’ thing(s). It has been observed, and we agree strongly, that political office-holders do not execute policies that benefit the people because of morality and conscience; rather, they do so mainly because of the fear of incurring the wrath of the electorate during voting. In other words, as long as politicians are prevented from rigging themselves into offices, they are always conscious of the level of delivery of their pre-election promises. It is assumed that they should know that not satisfying the ‘majority’ will almost always lead to their failure in re-election bid and no politician wants to be defeated in an election! With the current realities in Nigeria’s political firmament, it is clear that a bulk of the electorate is consciously kicking against some old ways that have kept Nigeria stagnant. Whoever gets into office after the yet-to-be concluded elections should take recent political events into cognisance! This advice may not make meaning to them, now, but we will endeavour to be “…..constant as the northern star…..” quoting an allusion to Julius Caesar (100BCE–44BCE); as we intend to still be here when their terms end to remind them of what we have been saying. Then, we hope to tell them that we are still here!

*Andrew A. Erakhrumen currently teaches at the Department of Forest Resources and Wildlife Management, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria.

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