The Presidency has described former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s criticism of the proposed N5000 note as personal opinion.
Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, told journalists in Abuja on Friday, that Obasanjo, as an “ordinary” individual, had the freedom to speak on issues.
Obasanjo had at a forum in Lagos last Thursday, said the N5000 denomination would kill production and affect small businesses negatively.
But Okupe, a one-time spokesman for the Obasanjo presidency, 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 presidential aide 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.”
He also spoke on the criticisms over Jonathan’s penchant for committees, saying the President was fond of setting up committees in order not to arrogate power and knowledge to himself (Jonathan) alone.
Okupe, however, assured that the reports of all the committees and sub-committees set up by his boss in the past would be made public to Nigerians soon.
Okupe had been asked why the President set up another committee to study the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on the Re-organisation of the Nigeria Police Force.
The first committee, which was headed by an ex-Assistant General of police, Mr. Parry Osayande, had submitted its recommendations to the President penultimate Tuesday.
But a day after, the President set up a review committee, headed by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke.
Before now, the President had been accused on many occasions of having the habit of setting up committees whose reports are usually not made known to the public.
In the past few months, the President has set up no fewer than 15 committees, which many political analysts say amount to waste of funds and time.
But Okupe said, “Now, the issue of committee is that, in Nigeria, we have a large population and a lot of brilliant of people.
“We must not forget that democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people.
“There is no need for a President to sit down in the Villa and he and his cohort get to formulate and appropriate knowledge to themselves. The issue of committees will not stop.
“Maybe in the past, there were no actions and committee reports had been put into the background but that will not happen this time around.”
Okupe said that he only went through Jonathan’s inauguration speech on Wednesday and that he was amazed to see that the President had delivered on about 15 of his promises.
He said, “I went through the presidential broadcast on the day he was inaugurated, and I was amazed that the things he said he would do and he has done, numbered about 14 and 15.
“This is a President who says ‘I will do something’ and he has done them.”