05.02.2023 Feature Article

Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele Again

Godwin EmefieleGodwin Emefiele
05.02.2023 LISTEN

What An Impulsive Financial Activation Move That Is Now Financially Distressing And Killing Nigerians

In theory many Nigerians want to believe Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele and his team that CBN’s implementation of the cashless policy and new withdrawal limits is a good move. As it is believed to be able to spur policy innovation, expand the financial system participation and transaction openings. New changes in cash withdrawal limits have equally been seen as a healthy part of the changes and updates in the financial system.

As part of the movement of a democratic economy the policy is a good thing, as it could help to foster a secure, credible, and well-organized payment system. The CBN believed that the Naira redesign program could help fight crime and terrorism, as the large volumes of cash used to pay ransom to terrorists would be lessened.

But due to the impulsive approach to the activation of this financial policy, the public especially the poor persons, many hardworking Nigerian citizens and businesses are in financial agony.

The banks where the people’s money is, with no much time flexibility, little or no time to study, learn, set internal approaches to initiating these policies are now in disarray.

Regarding time management that has value and meaning to persons in developing societies, the CBN’s October pronouncement on the redesigning of some denominations of the Naira and its circulation some few months after having brought mountain of painful conditions in the public.

While the CBN had commenced nationwide stakeholder engagement and sensitization to promote understanding of the cashless policy, particularly in rural areas, markets, and other communities, it has no current coherent effect as a result of irrational finance psychology. The CBN should have as part of its policy told the banks to allow the continuous use of the old notes at the same time it is making available new notes until it was entirely phased out.

Another irrational psychology on the part of CBN leadership is not taking along representatives of entities like the legislatures who are closer to their constituents and better able to let them know what is happening and why it is going on. The CBN governor for reasons best known to him emotionally, sentimentally and politically has not been timely in cooperating with the people through the legislators.

It appears that all is not well with the CBN leadership, as it could have learned in a commonsense way that the ‘Nigerian institutional way’ is not always the best way compared to other right-thinking democracies.

What stops the CBN leadership under Emefiele to express to the public that the changing of old notes to the new ones is here to stay, but through far and wide publication the CBN and the banks have agreed that the changes will come into effect one to two years after the official announcement. This is done in highly advanced societies with working digital, electrical and legal systems compared to a growing and sometimes chaotic environment like Nigeria.

In a society like Nigeria, where the strong man mentality reigns, Emefiele and his team want to make sure they are the one to say, under Emefiele, a cashless society happened, but at what cost? Now the people are hearing that the president due to the chaos everywhere in another impulsive and erratic way to find a solution is asking Nigerians to give him the seven-day period to address the current naira scarcity. Meanwhile in the absence of solving the frenzied decisions of the CBN the pains of Nigerians are growing. It is apparently political madness and economically schizophrenic for Nigeria, Africa's most-populous country, to be introducing new bank notes weeks before a major national election. It is nothing short of a draconian extraordinary change that will bring suspicion and catastrophe, as we are seeing now.

Across the country personal and business impediments everywhere.

There are fighting in the queue at various ATM machines dispensing new Naira notes. Customers fighting each other, fighting bank staff, students fighting soldiers, customer seen naked in the bank in protest, some customers have turned the ATM gallery to temporary sleeping homes and severe sickness and deaths have been recorded at homes and in banks.

The shortage of the new Naira notes nationwide continues with pains affecting small businesses and individualized markets, women and men selling various foods and items.

Citizens are being victimized by some few POS centers that operate, charging exceedingly per each withdrawal.

Banks are filled with many people who have abandoned their daily and work activities to exchange their old notes for the newly redesigned notes. Public civil servants have abandoned their offices and have taken to fury following their inability to access money from their banks because of the currency swap. Same pain with traders, transporters, and everybody who is complaining about cash scarcity.

How does the CBN leadership defend this national pain? Should all of them be removed, ask them to resign or we just wait until they wrap up and go in May with Buhari?

In a volatile time like this with a heated election period, what happens if frustrations and anger turn into the country violent demonstrations, reactions, and acts?

For a public treasury chief who is supposed to be politically neutral but made his way into wanting to turn politician when he recently filed as an All Progressive Congress’s presidential candidate but withdrew after public outcry, and now he reportedly has been accused according to the media of terrorism financing allegation. With all these troubles in his head, could all these be having a negative lasting mental impact on the governor and his CBN team, as he prepares to leave office in possible fear or apprehension?

To save more lives and business, the President should as a matter of urgency allow the concurrent use of the new and old notes until May when he lives in the office and issue a strong recommendation to the incoming government to allow another one to two years for the old currency to phase out.

Many Nigerians for far too long have suffered from poor governance, poverty, climate change hardship, terrorist violence and now Emefiele and his team have added wide sudden financial pain and suffering. We cannot continue like this.