The Senate descended into a rowdy session on Wednesday as senators deliberated a motion on the Naira redesign Policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Senator Uba Sani had moved a motion, praying the Senate to provide legislative support for the policy.
He also wants the Senate to mandate his committee to embark on aggressive oversight on the matter.
He urged the Senate to support the CBN redesign policy, including the January 31 deadline for compliance.
Matters, however, became controversial when Senators Ali Ndume, Abiodun Olujimi, Betty Apiafi, Barau Jibrin, Chukwuka Utazi, and Orji Kalu, supported the CBN policy but suggested the extension of the deadline for compliance.
Kalu specifically wanted the Senate to invite the Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, to throw more light on the policy, praying that he should be persuaded to extend the deadline to April 30, 2023.
But Senator Gabriel Suswam disagreed with Kalu and others, claiming that the CBN governor had always shunned the Senate invitations.
He urged his colleagues to ignore the CBN policy and let the country damn the consequences.
In his submission, Senator Bassey Akpan, stressed the need to support the CBN governor. He said there should be no discussion on the matter.
Suswam and Akpan’s submissions did not go down well with those seeking the extension to the deadline, which led to a rowdy session at plenary.
It took the persistent appeals by the presiding officer, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, to bring calm to the floor after 10 minutes of intense arguments among the senators.
Senator Ndume had earlier said there were only five banks in the entire 27 local government areas of Borno State since the insurgency started in the state.
Senator Olujimi also said one and a half month was too short to withdraw all the money in circulation to avoid shutting down the economy.
She said the Senate should invite the CBN governor for further explanation on the issue.
Senator Apiafi said rural banking had been shut down, hence the January deadline should be extended.
She said counterfeiting was not enough reason to change the naira notes.
She added that the implications of the redesign should be criticality examined in view of the fact that bandits had said they would be collecting ransom in foreign currencies if the naira notes were redesigned.
Senator Barau Jibrin said naira redesign could not halt terrorism but could only reduce it.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi said, because of the rural nature of the country, the leadership of the Senate should interface with the CBN governor to explain the implications on the peculiarity of the country, adding that the CBN should visit all the rural communities to get first-hand information.
Senator Orji Kalu suggested the extension of the deadline from January 31 to April 30, adding that the Committee on Banking and Finance should meet with the CBN governor on the matter.
Deputy President of the Senate said it was the prerogative of the CBN to redesign the naira and put deadline for compliance.
The Senate, after the rowdy session, offered to provide legislative support for the policy.
It also mandated the Senate Committee on Banking and Financial Institutions to go on oversight to ensure that Nigerians were adequately protected from the CBN, banks and other agencies involved in the process.