When Ilorin boiled over naira scarcity


Just last week, the relative peace of Ilorin the capital of Kwara state was stretched by far when residents protested on the streets over the current naira scarcity and its associated problems. Although calm now, UMAR BAYO ABDULWAHAB however reports that it was the intervention of the state governor that saved the situation.

The patience of the people of Ilorin, Kwara state capital was recently stretched to its limit following the scarcity of old naira notes and rejection of old notes by banks, filling stations traders and businesses.

But more exasperating, according to many of the angry residents, is the perceived ‘defeaning silence’ of the state governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq over the situation.

Some residents of the state last week grumbled that the governor had maintained a ‘defeaing silence’ while masses lament as banks, filing stations and super markets rejected old notes contrary to the Supreme Court injuction on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s policy on naira re-design.

Many of those who spoke to Blueprint but would not want their names in print, believe the governor had not spoken loudly like some of his counterparts to prevail on those rejecting the old naira notes to accept it.

They hinged their argument on the fact that the Supreme Court injunction that allows old and new naira notes to co-exist together remain valid until otherwise ruled by the apex court.

But contrary to their expectations, filling stations, super markets, transporters, traders and business outfits rejected the old notes from February 10 even when the Supreme Court had fixed February 15 for hearing on the suit before it.
Irked by the continued hardship being experienced as a result of the scarcely of new naira notes, angry youths took to the streets to protest against the situation setting up bon fires and barricading major streets.
As a result of this, many filling stations, banks and some businesses outlets hurriedly closed down for fear of being attacked.
Some of the areas affected by the situation included Oko-Olowo, Ogidi, Ita-Amo, Oloje, Gambari, Garin Alimi, area amongst others.

Five in police net

In the light of this, the Kwara State Police Command said it has arrested five persons over the protest .
A statement by the command’s spokesman Okasanmi Ajayi said some hoodlums set up bonfire with tyres early morning following which its operatives swoop on them.
The statement by the police reads, “The Kwara State Police Command woke up to an unlawful burning of disused tyres on some major roads in the Ilorin metropolitan area this morning, in spite of the earlier warning by the command against such unwholesome behaviour by hoodlums in the wake of the Naira note swap. The situation has however been brought under control, and normalcy has already been established.
“The Commissioner of Police Paul Odama has ordered aggressive motorised and foot patrols of the metro.

“He advised parents and guidance to warn their children or wards to avoid being used as canon-foders by disgruntled political activists, as any one arrested in the process of committing any crime, either as a result of the fuel or naira challenges, would be made to face the consequences of such actions alone.
“Once again, the good people of Kwara state are advised to go about their lawful daily endeavours. Enough security arrangements have been placed across the length and breadth of Kwara state to ensure the safety and security of law-abiding citizens and residents.
“The five suspects already arrested in the course of the disturbances this morning would be charged in court”.

Kwara Gov intervention/ proctive measures

Apparently in a bid to prevent such situation, the state governor had approved parlliatives for vulnerable groups including widows, pensioners and marketers
The state government a few days after commenced a free bus ride for students and staff of tertiary institutions namely the Kwara State University, Malete, University of Ilorin and Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin.
Similarly, to cushion the effects of fuel crisis, the governor also set up a high powered government committee headed by the deputy governor, Elder Kayode Alabi to monitor fuel situation and enforce compliance with official pump price.
Despite all these measures, residents of the state considered what they described as the ‘defeaning silence’ of the governor to mean insensitivity to their plights.
This crusade, which some people spread like wilde fire, investigation revealed, triggered Wednesday’s protest in some parts of tIlorinhe municipal centre of Ilorin.
Although some members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have accused members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of being behiend the crisis. Some however held a different opinion.

How Gov AbdulRazaq doused tension

And in what appeared to be a veiled response to the people’s agitation, the governor Wednesday quickly announced the suspension of his campaign rallies to reflect the mood of the public.
He also addressed the peoeple of the state through a state wide broadcast aired on local radio and television stations to douse tension.

AbdulRazaq in his address also clarified that the Supreme Court injunction that allows old /new naira notes to co-exist remain valid until it rules otherwise .
The governor therefore called for calm and admonished the peoeple of the state to be law-abiding .
Details of the broadcast reads, “I want to express my sincere sympathy with you on the continuous scarcity of the naira as a result of the recent CBN’s currency redesign.
“For clarity, the Supreme Court has granted an injunction that allows the old and the new notes to coexist. This injunction is still valid until the highest court rules otherwise.
“I therefore want all of you to be calm, law abiding, and peaceful. Let us not attack one another or destroy one another’s property.
“I am appealing to you to remain calm and peaceful, and not to give in to any frustrations or engage in any form of violence.
“I testify to the inconvenience this development has brought. We are in this together, and I assure you that this will be over in the shortest possible time. I really appreciate your patience.
“In solidarity with the mood of the public, I’m putting my public rallies on hold until further notice. God bless you.”

Emir of Ilorin preaches peace

Also reacting to the disturbance, Emir of Ilorin and chairman Kwara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari cautioned the people of the state to resist the temptation to resort to violence.
The Emir in a message to the people of the state implored them to guard jealously, the status of Ilorin Emirate as home of peace and kwara as the State of Harmony by eschewing all temptations.

The statement reads, “Dear Kwarans, I have said it on several occasions that Ilorin Emirate is known for peace, Kwara state is known for harmony, let’s resist all forms of temptations. “Governments at all levels are working assiduously towards ensuring that the hardship is curtailed.

” I am deeply touched and worried about the current situation, it calls for calm and perseverance. Please let’s remain peaceful and together we shall overcome this hard time.”

Normalcy has however returned to the state last Thursday as people were seen going about their normal businesses.
The people of the state also heaved a sigh of relief with President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday’s nationwide broadcast where he said he had approved that the CBN shoul release the old N200 notes back to circulation and allow it to co- exist with the new 200 notes till April 10 when the N200, N500 and N1000 would ceased to be legal tenders.


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