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30.12.2022 Featured 5 Most Controversial Gov’t Policies of 2022

Published 30th Dec, 2022

By Sodeeq Atanda

To govern any society, law and order must be effectively planned and coordinated to regulate behaviours. As authorities make such laws, citizens are bound to react to their appropriateness or otherwise in their socio-economic contexts.

In the year 2022, a number of policies were introduced and greeted with controversies by Nigerians across geopolitical divides. In no particular order, FIJ looks back at some of the contentious policies of 2022.

NEW NAIRA NOTES

On Wednesday, October 26, Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), revealed that the bank had tinkered with the design of some Naira notes, a policy he said was in tandem with the establishment mandate of the apex bank.

“On the basis of these trends, problems, and facts, and in line with provisions of sections 2 (b), section 18 (a), and sections 19, subsections (a) and (b) of the CBN act 2007, the management of the CBN sought and obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to redesign, produce, and circulate new series of banknotes at N200, N500, and N1,000 levels.

“In line with this approval, we have finalised arrangements for the new currency to begin circulation from December 15, 2022. The new and existing currencies shall remain legal tender and circulate together.”

Despite claiming to have obtained the president’s go-ahead before redesigning the affected banknotes, Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, denied being aware of the policy before implementing it and asked the Senate “to invite the CBN governor for required explanations as regards merits of the planned policy and rightness or otherwise of its implementation now”.

Giving legislative backing to the policy, however, the Senate expressed pessimism about the deadline given before the old denominations would become invalid.

CBN WITHDRAWAL LIMITS

On December 6, CBN, Nigeria’s financial regulator, again came up with another tongue-wagging monetary policy aimed at reducing the daily cash withdrawals by bank customers in the country.

The new regulation drew the attention of Nigerians for many reasons. It was intended to limit withdrawal to N20,000 via point of sale (PoS) terminals.

With the new policy, individuals would no longer be able to withdraw more than N100,000 over the counter per week, while the maximum withdrawal for corporate organisations would be N500,000.

Acting on public outcry, the National Assembly waded into the controversy and the weekly withdrawal limits were adjusted to N500,000 per an individual and N5 million per a corporate body.

PETROLEUM INDUSTRY BILL

Another important policy development in 2022 was the signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, August 16.

For many years, the bill remained a subject of discussion in the energy industry, as it was designed to revolutionise governance and institutions, administration, petroleum industry fiscal framework and miscellaneous provisions.

As much as the bill was welcomed by stakeholders, it raised uproars from the host communities, particularly in the Niger Delta area, who were uncomfortable with the 3% and 5% equity stakes recommended by the Senate and the House of Reps respectively.

NEW ELECTORAL ACT

President Buhari also assented to the new Electoral Act on February 24, 2022, thereby bringing to an end the apprehension surrounding the proposed reforms in the bill while at the legislation stage.

Since it became operational, INEC has relied on the provisions of the amended law to conduct the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states, and other constituency elections, while banking on same to conduct a seamless general election in 2023.

NIGERIAN START-UPS ACT

2022 also witnessed the birth of an enterpreneurship-favoured law called Nigerian Start-Ups Act. The law, which was signed into law on October 26, signifies the government’s effort to encourage and efficiently regulate the budding start-up market in the country.

Addressing journalists after Buhari had signed the executive bill into law, Professor Ali Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, said “the president has assented to the bill and also conveyed to the relevant institutions of government for gazetting. We are all excited knowing the benefits that our economy is going to generate from the act.”

From the views expressed on the merits and demerits of the law, it is clear that some people favour the law as fantastic and needed to reposition the start-up space in the country. On the other hand, some still have reservations about a mandatory provision requiring companies to register as Nigeria-based to be able to reap the benefits of the law. They are of the view that most foreign creditors or investors do not have positive disposition towards Nigerian start-ups and as such, the law could inhibit local firms registered in the country.

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Published 30th Dec, 2022

By Sodeeq Atanda

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