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Naira Scarcity, Citizen Penury And Other Matters

Naira Scarcity, Citizen Penury And Other Matters

President Muhammadu Buhari recently stated that the naira redesign policy was meant to boost the economy and not to cause hardship.

Buhari who apologised to Nigerians over the development made this known in a video clip posted on Twitter by Uba Sani, the gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kaduna. Buhari said; “I apologise to you for the hardship caused by the change of the naira. It was done to boost the economy of the country, not to cause hardship to anybody.”

Whatever good intentions that Buhari may have for introducing the policy, it is yet to be seen. Rather, it has left in its wake, sorrow, tears and blood of innocent Nigerians. One of the victims of the policy is a father of three, Bello Ali Baffa whose 32-year-old pregnant wife, Shema’u Sani Labaran, was in labour, and bled to death due to rejection of old naira notes with which he tried to settle her medical bills at Muhammadu Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital, Kano.

Baffa, a 42-year-old man, said his pregnant wife was about to be delivered of their fourth baby when he took her to the hospital but unfortunately medical personnel on duty didn’t attend to her. He said he had the old naira notes on him but they rejected them just like they did to many other patients and that no POS was available in the vicinity!

Last week, an Ibadan-based radio presenter popularly known as Baba Bintin slumped and died on his way to work in the early hours of Saturday. Daily Trust reported that the presenter died on his way to the Fresh FM station where he had a programme with the duo of Komolafe Olaiya and Olalomi Amole at Ayefele Music house, Challenge, Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

Reports say he was trekking from Amuloko area where he lived to Challenge as a result of his inability to get cash for transportation to the studio. The above incidents are a tip of the iceberg of what Nigerians have passed through and still dealing with since the naira redesign policy came into force. Many Nigerians had heaved sigh of relief when the Supreme Court extended the validity of the N200, N500, and N1,000 Naira notes till 31 December.

A seven-member panel of the court led by John Okoro unanimously directed that the CBN must continue to receive the old notes from Nigerians. The court held that the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari for the redesign of the new notes and withdrawal of the old notes without due consultation is invalid.

Emmanuel Agim, a member of the panel, who read the lead judgement, also condemned the President’s disobedience of the court’s 8 February order that the old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes should continue to circulate alongside the new ones.

Two weeks since the Supreme Court extended the use of old naira redesigned notes, there has been no word from President Muhammadu Buhari or from the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele, while the average Nigerian continues to suffer all kinds of deprivation that has sadly resulted to avoidable deaths.

This paper, the LEADERSHIP had reported about Akwa Ibom resident who was paid old naira notes by a commercial bank but the old notes was rejected as a legal tender by traders in Uyo, the state capital. The old notes were not only rejected by petty traders but also by filling stations, while the bank that initially paid the old notes refused to collect them back. What an absurdity!

“The worst case is that the old currency notes of N1,000 and N500 that I took pains to get rid of have returned into my hands since the order by the Supreme Court. When I got them from a first generation bank, I thought it was the directive from the CBN, but when business operators rejected them, the issuing banks could not also take them back, it’s sad,” Emem Samuel reportedly told LEADERSHIP.

Similar incidents also reportedly  happened in various parts of the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja. The situation has gotten to the point that one of the staunchest supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) could not afford to remain silent. The apex northern sociocultural group, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to comply with the Supreme Court’s judgement extending validity of the old Naira.

It said the Naira redesign policy has done serious damage to the credentials of President Muhammadu Buhari as a democrat and stickler for the rule of law. ACF in a statement issued by its secretary-general, Aliyu Murtala, said President Buhari is under oath to defend the constitution of Nigeria, and that, the much-touted benefits of the Naira redesign can never justify the damage to his credentials as a democrat and a stickler for the rule of law.

According to ACF, “Monday, the 13th of March, 2023, marks the 10th day after the Supreme Court of Nigeria ruled that CBN’s Naira Redesign policy is unlawful and that its implementation should stop. Whatever the CBN or anyone else says about the benefits of the policy, which evidently are many, is of little comfort as soon as the highest court in the country has deemed that it is, or, at least the manner of its implementation, breaches the law.

“Ten days is long enough time for the government to find its way towards complying with a court order which is central to the achievement of peace, order and good governance in the country.

“President Buhari is under oath to defend the constitution of Nigeria. As his long term supporters, it will be remiss of us if we fail to warn that the much touted benefits of the Naira redesign can never justify the damage to his credentials as a democrat and a stickler for the rule of law.

“This is quite apart from the real possibility of the crisis morphing into a serious social disorder leading to the possible breakdown of law and order throughout Nigeria. We do not believe nor can we advise him to pay such a heavy price on account of a policy whose immediate goals are not entirely clear to a majority of Nigerians,” ACF said.

The big question is: why are the president and the CBN refusing to obey the orders of the Supreme Court, highest court in the land? Delayed obedience is also disobedience. The cost of disobedience is huge to Nigerians, who are paying high price with their collapsed businesses, avoidable hardships and a harvest of deaths.

Many Nigerians are suffering because of this rather shoddy implementation! Many traders are losing vast quantities of perishable goods because the buyers can’t access cash to buy while the majority of buyers have no bank accounts with which to receive transfers. Even the businesses that have bank accounts are complaining of inefficient interbank services.  The situation is often so shoddy that it often takes days for sellers to receive alerts for funds transferred.

These and other inefficiencies are steadily driving more and more rural Nigerians into penury and poverty. They can’t sell and they can’t preserve all because the naira change has made nonsense of naira as a means of exchange. Unfortunately, that is the legacy and the cloud under which president Buhari’s last days will be remembered. What a pity! MAY NIGERIA REBOUND

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