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Disobedience To Supreme Court Order: Presidency Beats Tactical Retreat (1)
Published Mar 23, 2023 IN Opinion,
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FOLLOWING the implementation of the thoughtless Naira redesign policy and consequent “notes swap”, by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, the life of an average Nigerian has taken a turn for the worse. No cash at hand to meet basic daily needs and cash at the bank is as good as being impecunious. The apex bank, under Emefiele, hoodwinked Nigerians into depositing the old banknotes (?200, ?500, and ?1000) in their possession with the deposit money banks (DMBs), not later than January 31, 2023, with the false hope that the new notes would be made available such that Nigerians can access their funds any time they so wish. 

The deadline was extended by 10 days. Every law-abiding citizen complied and rushed down to deposit the old notes, with the belief that whenever they need their hard-earned money, all it will require is to approach their banks and either make a withdrawal through the automated teller machines (ATM) cards or fill a withdrawal form and get the needed cash. But that happened to be the greatest miscalculation of the millennium. Notes swap would later turn to “notes grab” (apologies to Femi Fani-Kayode). The CBN, literally, confiscated people’s hard-earned money. 

After mopping up about ?3 trillion of the old notes from circulation, the CBN only made available, less than half a trillion naira – about ?300 billion to be precise, which is a far cry from what is needed to lubricate the economy. 

Dear readers, I won’t bore you with the purported reasons for the crass implementation of the policy because they (the reasons) are as annoying as the consequences on both micro and macroeconomics. Every right-thinking person is yet to wrap his head around the policy at this material time, motive, and the way it is being implemented, in a manner devoid of empathy for the poor masses. 

The Nigerian Naira became as scarce as, if not scarcer than, the US Dollars due to the apex bank’s refusal to replace the withdrawn old notes. People now have to be charged as much as 40%, by POS operators for every withdrawal. That is where and when it is even available at all. What was happening? Nigerians demanded explanations. But what they got was all platitudes romanticising the efficacy of the policy in tackling corruption, kidnapping, inflation, and vote-buying among other reasons. We were also told that there is a need for us to embrace a dead-on-arrival “cashless policy”. Dead on arrival because the issue of infrastructure (internet penetration) needed to, seamlessly, transition to an all-inclusive cashless economy has never been addressed. I mean, nobody has bothered to carry out an audit of the level of preparedness of the financial sector in terms of the required infrastructure to drive the policy. When customers make an electronic transfer of funds, their accounts get debited immediately without the recipient’s account being credited. Even some are never reversed. Where it is reversed, the lucky customer must have gone through hell, standing in the queue for hours before gaining entry into the banking premises. 

An uncle, whose work is service-based, recently told me that one of his clients transferred money to his account last week through a POS but the transaction was purportedly declined. Meanwhile, the client’s account was debited immediately without a reversal of the fund. But neither of them had seen the money up until the time he was narrating the incident to me. “They neither reversed the transaction nor credited my account,” he said. The client’s bank, according to my uncle, told him to wait for seven working days. I also had a personal experience, when I bought fuel about a fortnight ago from a fueling station, and had to pay with my debit card. The error message I got was “transaction declined”. So, I had to bring out another debit card belonging to a different bank, before payment could be effected. Similar to what an average bank account owner in Nigeria is made to pass through every now and then, I got a debit alert for the initial transaction that was said to have been declined. When I visited the fueling station, the following morning on my way to work, to lodge a complaint, I was advised to visit my bank to lodge a complaint. I visited the bank’s website, and took their purported customer care email address, through which lodged my complaint. But, 72 hours later, I got no response as a form of acknowledgement to my email, so, I decided to, amid my very tight schedule, visit the bank’s branch, filled a complaint form and submitted the same manually. That was after I had been in the queue on the main road in front of their gate for about three-and-a-half hours under the scorching heat of the sun before I could gain entrance into the banking hall. The reversal was not done until about two days ago. Now, come to think of it, assuming that was all the money I had left that means, to survive, I would either have to go begging or starve with my family. Just imagine, if I wasn’t strong, or enlightened, enough to visit the bank and lodge a complaint, that was how my money would have gone without any hope of a reversal because none of the banks in Nigeria has a functional in-built mechanism that automatically initiates a reversal process unless you go for it manually.


To be continued


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