The majority leader in the House of Representatives, Alhassan Doguwa, has revealed that he needed N70 million cash to be used for Saturday 25 presidential and National Assembly elections.
Daguwa, the House of Representatives candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) representing Doguwa/Tudun Wada Federal Constituency of Kano State, said going into elections without “hard cash” could put politicians at a disadvantage.
Daguwa also the Chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee on Naira Re-design, Cashless Policy, and Currency Swap, said this while fielding questions from State House reporters after leading his committee to a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Doguwa said each member of the House of Representatives is entitled to N70 million cash to pay polling agents and for other election running costs, stating that if they have no hard cash, they will be disadvantaged in the exercise.
He said his committee would not rest until it had seen that the pains of the new monetary policy on Nigerians were fully assuaged.
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.
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.
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.
“A presidential candidate is expected to have at least N1 billion by law. The law has provided for us the amount of money we need to oversee our election process. You need to pay your agents in the villages where you don’t have ATM machines, in the villages where you don’t have POS, in the villages where absolutely you don’t have this new naira. So, this is money that I require, that the law has permitted me to have N70 million as logistics. I need to have this N70 million in hard copy.
“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.
“And don’t forget the point I’ve made as a partisan member, that the policy in itself is a policy that is apparently against the ruling APC because Nigerians that are not happy will look at it as a policy of the government of APC. This has placed us at a disadvantage already.
“Of course, it’s a good observation. Those of us fight at the ATM stations, ATM stations is now wrestling grounds. Banks are being burnt up, are you telling me that all those people that are burning banks are APC members? APC members are law-abiding members of our party.”
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 a hearing, the supreme court declared that the old naira notes are still legal tender.
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.