The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdulahi Adamu, Chairman of Progressives Governors Forum, Atiku Bagudu,  Kaduna state Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, Yahaya Bello of Kogi and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara Monday met behind closed doors ahead of Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Naira redesign policy.

The National Working Committee of the party and governors elected on the platform of the party had on Sunday called on  President Muhammadu Buhari to obey the Supreme Court interim injunction on Naira redesign, saying the policy and its implementation was causing tremendous difficulties to the people of Nigeria and to the national economy.

Adamu had called the emergency meeting to  intervene in the current face-off between governors elected on the platform of the party and the President  over the Naira redesign policy.

President Buhari had in October 2022 authorised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign the N1000, N500, N200 notes, with a 100-day grace period given to Nigerians  to change the old notes to new notes.

But, the governments of  Kaduna, Kogi, and Zamfara filed an ex  parte application before the Supreme court to stop the federal government from banning the old notes.

It was against this background that the Supreme Court temporarily restrained the federal government from banning the use of the old naira notes from February 10.

President Buhari in a nationwide broadcast last Thursday directed the apex bank to make available the old N200 notes to ease the hardship on Nigerians.

The meeting which lasted for about 1hr:30 minutes might not be unconnected with the insistence of the governors of the party to have the President’s decision on the Naira policy rescinded.

At the end of the meeting, Adamu didn’t allow the governors or the AGF to brief journalists who were laying siege by staying, “we are on the same page”.

Sources said the AGF , Adamu and the governors might be working out an out of court settlement to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, Adamu Monday told Commonwealth observers that the reputation of the ruling party was on the line even though the party was working to win the forthcoming elections.

He said why he wouldn’t want to preempt anything, but he believed there would be foreign interest in the country’s election.

Adamu stated: “We are very happy to have you. We have been through this before and we are only hoping to have improved from whatever you have seen in the past as to how our elections are conducted.

“As the ruling party, we are very concerned, our  reputation, our image is on the line and so we are working to do the best possible in the circumstances we found ourselves today to see that we have a successful outing and that nobody’s liberty is infringed upon.”

Asked if he has any concerns that the election won’t be free and fair or  about possible foreign interventions on the election, Adamu added: “We are working to win and we are happy that the youths are sufficiently mobilised and would come out in millions to vote. Our hope is that they will be voting us.

“There are 18 registered political parties and they have the same rights to contest this election. We may beat our chest as the ruling party but that is not to say the other parties are not contesting and we are not underestimating the strength of any party because to do so will be at the expense of the victory we are looking for.

“On foreign intervention, I don’t want to preempt anything but since we are in a global village, there are bound to be interests here and there. We do hope that since we have grund norms, rules of engagement in politics, the international community also has rules do engagement and our hope and wish is that they will live by that.

“Yes, we are concerned. We are going cashless, we are redesigning and it has coincided with the elections and there have been some hiccups with the implementation of this programme which has really caused a lot of concern down the ladder. We cannot pretend that it is not biting but I think measures are being taken to ameliorate the pains.”

The leader of the Commonwealth delegation to APC secretariat, Amina Mohammed said the commonwealth had supervise elections in a number of countries.

Also, the Head of the Commonwealth Election Observation Mission to Nigeria for the 2023 general election, Thabo Mbeki, has expressed optimism that the election would be successful, peaceful and inclusive.

The former South African president stated this yesterday when he led the Commonwealth delegation to the National Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

His words: “We came here with the full complement of the commonwealth observer mission. This is the seventh election in Nigeria that we are observing. Of course, I don’t need to say that the commonwealth is more than a country. Nigeria is a very important country. It has an impact on itself and the continent as a whole. 

“So, it is always very important that as the Commonwealth, we should come and be with you as you hold this all important election and to observe the conduct.

“We come very hopeful and confident that we will have a successful, peaceful and inclusive elections and at the end, there will be no complaints. But that depends on INEC and the many other people that constitute your team.

“So, we have come here to listen and to understand as much as we can, your own views in terms of the preparations for the election and all other things that fall within the limit of the commission.”

“That understanding on our part is important because at the end, we will make a statement about the election and more importantly, make recommendations about whatever we see in the conduct of this election and give a comprehensive picture of what we see during the election as much as possible.”

Mbeki said  it was very important that the delegation  listened carefully to INEC being a critical player in the process.

Responding, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission had  benefited from previous election observation mission of commonwealth.

According to him, So much innovations have been introduced over time. So, we don’t take your observations lightly. Your observations that require administrative intervention by the commission have been implemented. 

“Those that require legislations, especially subsidiary legislation, we engage with the National Assembly to carry out the necessary legislations. Our constitution, the Electoral Act and our guidelines constitute the ground norm.”

The chairman said the commission was aware of the responsibility that lies on its shoulders, but added that the commission  cannot do it alone.

Yakubu added: “Our work is clearly cut out with assigned responsibilities for the security agencies, the parties and others. As a commission, we have constantly engaged with all stakeholders.

“Every three months, we meet with stakeholders made up of political parties, civil society organisations, the media and the security agencies. But we can meet several times in a year depending on the issues. 

“We are committed to a free and fair process. I want to assure you that INEC is not a political party. We don’t have a candidate in the election. The choice of who becomes what during the general election is entirely the choice of the Nigerian people. We are committed to free, fair, credible, inclusive elections and verifiable elections.”

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