Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s criticism of the proposed N5000 note was personal opinion, the Presidency has said.
“Obasanjo is an ordinary citizen. He has the right to speak on issues of national importance, but his views are not sacrosanct. But Obasanjo has right to his own opinion,” the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, told journalists in Abuja on Friday.
He said that right of Obasanjo, as an “ordinary” citizen of Nigeria to the freedom to speech was sacrosanct.
Obasanjo had at a forum in Lagos last Thursday, said the N5000 denomination would kill production and affect small businesses negatively.
Okupe said the Federal Government was right to approve the denomination.
He also denounced criticisms by opposition parties that the introduction of the higher denomination would lead to inflation.
Okupe, a medical doctor, turned, politician, said there was no need to argue over the issue, adding that with his interaction with experts, there was no guarantee that the new note, when introduced, would either lead to inflation or affect production.
He said, “It is a project of the Central Bank of Nigeria and it is also important to carry people along. From my investigation and discussion with experts, there is no assurance that it will lead to inflation.
“There is $1000 bill in the United States and that has not negatively affected the economy there.
“It is not carried by all Americans, but by those who need it. The N5000 note will also be like that. We should not dissipate energy on that.
“We over-politicise issues in this country. This note will not affect the cashless policy of the government as being speculated in some quarters as well.”
Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria has said that it will be illegal for banks to compel their customers to accept the N5000 note when it comes into existence..
The apex bank, which denied allegations that it was forcing the new structure of the naira on Nigerians, said customers could reject N5000 note from banks
“I say this with all sense of responsibility as the deputy governor of the central bank that we shall ensure that no bank imposes N5000 on anybody who does not want it. You can go to your bank and say you don’t need N5000 note,” Deputy Governor (Operations) of the CBN, Mr. Tunde Lemo, said in a Channels Television interview programme on Saturday.
“Every Nigerian has the prerogative of the currency he or she wants to have. You can go to your bank and say, you don’t need N5000 note. You can say ‘give me N500, N200 and N100.’ It will be illegal for that bank to say you must have N5000.
“We did not say take or leave it. If you don’t need it, you don’t need to ask for it. We are not saying people will be compelled to take the N5000 note.”