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Naira scarcity: I need N70m in hard copy for election expenses, says Doguwa

Alhassan Doguwa, majority leader in the house of representatives, says he needs N70 million — as permitted by law — in “hard copy” to cover his expenses for the general election.

Doguwa spoke on Thursday after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock villa in Abuja.

The figure the legislator is referring to is a cap of spending for those running for seats in the lower legislative chamber as provided by section 88(4) of the electoral act, which states: “the maximum amount of election expenses to be incurred by a candidate in respect of Senatorial and House of Representatives seat shall not exceed N100,000,000 and N70,000,000, respectively.”

The law does not, however, specify if it should be in cash or not.

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The meeting with Buhari comes hours after the president ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to recirculate the old N200 notes which would be valid till April 10.

The lawmaker said he was at the villa to thank Buhari for the intervention because citizens are suffering.

He added that without the money in “hard copy”, those seeking to win seats in the national assembly would be at a disadvantage.

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The house leader said the CBN should immediately release the N200 notes to the public in line with Buhari’s directive.

“Now that the president has issued the directive, how do we ensure that the president’s directive is being carried out on the ground? This is what we came to iron out today,” Doguwa said.

“No matter how professional a policy is, it is counterproductive if it induces suffering on Nigerians.

“A member of the house of representatives is expected by law to have [no] more than N70 million naira to conduct his elections, logistics, and other things. The law has permitted me to have N70 million as logistics. I need to have this N70 million in hard copy.

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“As I speak to you, I don’t have it, which means if this policy continues this way, if the central bank fails to make available this money, we need to fund our elections. Definitely, every candidate, no matter what party he belongs to, will be put at disadvantage.”

The deadline for the use of old naira notes was fixed for February 10, but the supreme court ordered the apex bank not to enforce it.

However, the apex bank said it would go ahead and implement the deadline.

While adjourning the case till February 22 for hearing, the supreme court declared that the old naira notes are still legal tender.

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However, earlier on Thursday, the president said while the old N200 note remains legal tender till April 10, the old N500 and N1,000 notes are redeemable at the CBN or designated cash swap centres.

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