Nobel Laureate and activist, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has publicly criticized the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, for his naira swap policy that led to a nationwide scarcity of banknotes.
In October 2022, Emefiele introduced redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes, announcing the phasing out of the old notes by January 31, 2023, which was later extended to February 10.
The policy was intended to prevent vote-buying in the lead-up to the general elections, but the Supreme Court later ruled that the old currency remain legal tender until December 31, 2023.
During Monday’s broadcast of Channels Television’s Roadmap 2023, Soyinka accused Emefiele of committing a crime against humanity and reducing the country to a state of despondency.
“Emefiele has committed a crime against humanity, over and beyond even any electoral mago mago (foul play).”
“He struck at the heart of the subsisting survival principles, minimal needs and entitlements of the ordinary people in the street.” Soyinka said.
The activist went on to criticize President Muhammadu Buhari for allowing Emefiele to implement policies that have caused Nigerians to suffer.
“Don’t bully me. Don’t take my voice away. Don’t take my economic potential away, my economical entitlements. Don’t throw me on the mercy of sadists like Emefiele,” he said.
“He and his boss, Buhari, because ultimately responsibility rests with him [Buhari] to have allowed this to happen. But he [Emefiele] is the expert. He’s the one who gives the advice, he’s the one who executes the policies.”
Recounting his own experience, the activist said, “Even a few days ago, when I sent a text to the bank and a cheque came back, they had no cash.
“One of the bankers eventually brought me something from his own stash and explained to me what had been going on, how they would sit and wait for money to come.
“You can’t buy a newspaper. You can’t buy guguru (popcorn) and epa (grounduts), which means that you cannot pay for the plantain; which means that the farmer cannot even pay for transportation of the goods from his farm to the [markets].”