There can be no telling the measure of pressure faced by Nigerians at a time as this. What is not in doubt is whatever the intent of the presidency in pursuing the redesign of some currencies, the discomfort Nigerians suffer now, if nothing is done about it might as well get to a level where the people can no longer bear the pains and inconveniences any more. At that stage, nothing is predictable.
In spite of repeated denials by Godwin Emefiele, that the naira redesign is not political and not targeted at any politician, the reaction of the members of the National Assembly and governors, especially of the APC, suggest that, indeed, there may be more to it than meets the eye.
While the president has pledged to bequeath the nation an electoral process that will be devoid of the activities of armed thugs and vote buying, the APC as a party it seems is particularly more worried of all the political parties about the naira redesign.
One thing for sure is that the decision of the CBN to redesign the currencies appears to be well received by lots of Nigerians, but for the difficulty in accessing cash for daily upkeep.
The reasons for this may not be far-fetched. For too long we have suffered the effect of poor leadership. We have remained in the doldrums because we have since ceded the leadership of the country to criminals, bandits and people of questionable character.
While the rest of the world practice democracy of majority rule, our own democracy is that of minority rule where some group of people can with coercion and brute force bulldoze their way to office and ride roughshod on a passive and reticent majority.
However, while the majority of the people think the decision by CBN may be in the overall interest of the nation, the pains they go through of not having access to their money in the bank is too painful a burden to bear. Not even the COVID-19 year of 2020 was this difficult. At least people during COVID-19 accessed whatever money they had for sustenance and for other commitments during the pandemic.
Today, anybody with a burial at hand or with any health challenge cannot get any succor from anywhere. People are starving and going days without a decent meal. Raising money to send children to school and feed the family is a big challenge.
Nigerians barely sleep. As early as 4 am people are leaving their homes to bank premises and crowding ATMs just in the hope that there would be money. They stay in those places only to find out most times after waiting for several hours that their wait was indeed in vain.
Out of frustration Nigerians have been reacting in several strange ways in protest. While some have stripped totally naked some have appeared half nude and others forcing bank officials to scale fences for safety.
The claim by the CBN that it is the banks that are frustrating efforts to make available the new notes to the people is to a very large extent true. It is easy to sympathise with the CBN because the banks have always been in the business of making new notes available to people who purchase them for sale.
With my over 20 years of banking, I have never been fortunate to be paid with new notes. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been so fortunate at the ATMs. So, where have these new notes been going? Is the CBN ignorant of the fact that banks do not pay customers with new notes and that they would rather give to itinerant new note hawkers who appear at parties to trade the money? Can the CBN claim not to know that it has never been in the habit of banks to pay their customers with new notes? Do they not know that those new notes are also meant for those who are very privileged to use at social functions?
Naturally, with the redesigned notes, it is only to be expected that the banks would naturally prioritise their personal interest over and above that of the nation. Most bank workers are no longer staff but casual workers who are short-changed by greedy bank management who outsource their employment to themselves, their families and friends.
Banks are worst hit by the new wave of brain drain popular known as japa syndrome. In years past bank workers are usually admired, not anymore. Is it therefore unexpected that these poorly remunerated employees will be susceptible to fraud? Does it make any sense that bank promoters and management would be living like Saudi princes while the junior workers are pauperised?
The problems associated with these redesigned notes have only brought to the fore the malaise within the banking industry. The CBN has since outlawed the abuse of the naira but had never deemed it necessary to enforce the law. The result being that even CBN officials have been seen also spraying naira notes at parties.
If there is anything the CBN must do and learn from this it is that there is an urgent need to arrest the corruption and indiscipline within that sector.
So much for the banks. Now, what still baffles many is the vigour with which the National Assembly pursued the call to suspend, sack or arrest Emefiele for ignoring their several summonses. If this 9th Assembly had pursued other issues, under the Buhari administration, that affected the people with same vigour the nation would have been better for it. Yet, they want us to believe that they have done this in the interest of the common man.
This is the same National Assembly that unabashedly told us they would endorse everything from the Executive, just to be in the good books of the presidency. The reward for which the Senate president, Ahmad Lawan, was almost rewarded with the Presidential ticket of APC, for being a good boy. After being outfoxed by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, he has been rewarded with a Senate ticket for which he never took part in the party primary.
As if to further underscore the level of collapse of democratic tenets which tries to maintain the independence of the three arms of government and the principle of the rule of law, the supreme court proved again that justice is now for highest bidder.
After producing something out of nothing by gifting Lawan a senate ticket which he himself knows he is not qualified for, they again dashed some state governors, all APC, their prayers to restrain the Federal Government from implementing the February 10 Deadline for the old 200, 500 and 1000 naira notes to stop being legal tenders.
Three northern states — Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara — had in a motion ex-parte filed on February 3rd, by their lawyer, AbdulHakeem Mustapha (SAN), prayed the apex court to halt the CBN policy.
A seven-man panel of the Supreme Court led by Justice John Okoro, in a unanimous ruling, granted an interim injunction restraining the FG, CBN, commercial banks etc from implementing the February 10, deadline.
The court further held that the FG, CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue on February 15.
True, the naira scarcity has hit Nigerians rather badly, but if you believe that these legislators and governors are doing these in the interest of the people, then you can believe anything. Nigerians have been experiencing fuel scarcity for so long, our university students were home for several months, yet the National Assembly and the governors did nothing. During COVID-19, while Nigerians groaned, our legislators and governors were reported to have re-routed palliatives meant for the people and heaven did not fall, so in whose interest are these APC politicians now fighting?