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HomeCurrency Nigerians groan in hardship over Naira scarcity, rejection of old notes 

 Nigerians groan in hardship over Naira scarcity, rejection of old notes 

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  • Filling Stations, Markets, Transporters await signal from Buhari, CBN
  • President’s indifference, violation of S’Court Judgement, shameful – SAN
By Shakirudeen Bankole
Alhaja Musifat Hassan, a 69-year-old grandmother, is a farmer based in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.
As a large scale farmer, harvest time is usually the reward time for her painstaking investment in Cocoa, banana, Casava, among others.
“The last six months have been hard. I have lost almost everything. I worked hard to ensure we have a good harvest, but we couldn’t make anything significant out of it because of the challenge of new money,” she explained to this reporter.
 After harvesting, the Ibadan-born grandmother usually contract transporter to convey her goods to Lagos, for sale.
“But the scarcity of  petroleum has triple the transport charge. And at the end of the day, our suppliers couldn’t buy our goods because they said their own buyers were not buying also because they couldn’t have access to their money,.
“Things have gone so bad for us now. As I am now, I have to run back to Ibadan to meet my children so hunger would not kill me in the village,” she added.
She said she could not have access to her bank to withdraw money for daily upkeep and essential things.
The tale of Mrs Musifat is one of the sad implications of the unabated hardship created by the scarcity of naira notes in the country.
From Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Kano, and across the six geo-political zones of the country, the experience is the same.
Nigerians are united in pains and agonies created by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s monetary policy, which experts and the courts have dismissed as anti people.
The President, and the CBN, the implementing institution of the policy, have refused to back down, showing little or no remorse to the pains of the people.
“President (Muhammadu) Buhari and the Central Bank (of Nigeria) know they are strangulating the economy to death and destroying livelihoods through cashless policy and they continue even with Supreme Court ruling. This will be the lasting memory of the Buhari Administration,”  Jibril Ibrahim, an Abuja-based Professor of Political Science, wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.
Ibrahim, a democracy and governance expert, believes  it was not only wrong for the President and the apex bank to, days after the Supreme Court judgement, refused to make the old naira notes available to the masses,  and subsequently inform the public about it’s legality, it was criminal also.
 The same sentiment was shared by one Mr  Rasheed Adegoke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN), who in an interview with Punch Newspaper on Thursday, said the President can actually “be prosecuted” over the matter, after May 29″ when he would have handed over power to the new President.
His words:
” Supreme Court is the highest court of the land, it is a policy court as well as a court of law and when it feels that there is certain attitude from the executive which may be violating the rights of the citizens, it is the duty of the court to give a pronouncement on it.
” The court may be right or wrong. Even if the court is wrong being the highest court of the land, it is an infallible court, it is not infallible because it is final but it is final because it is infallible. It is the last court of the land and whatever it pronounces it is in the interest of the nation and every party in the case must comply.
 “But it is unfortunate that a government that had benefited from this court’s pronouncement has refused to obey. Let me cast your mind back to 2019 when Atiku Abubakar went to court to challenge the reelection of Buhari. The Supreme Court ruled in accordance with what it understood to be the law. For such a person who has remained in his office courtesy of the judiciary decision, it is out of place for the government to disrespect the judiciary,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said.
It would be recalled that In October 26, last year, CBN announced a new monetary policy, which would require the facing out of the N1000, N500, and N200 demonization for newly minted and redesigned equivalent.
There were plethora of reasons given for the innovation, but the most sticking of them were the promise that the policy would, among others;
* Help mitigate money laundering act, particularly as it relates to Vote Buying and Selling during the election, an act already criminalised by the Electoral Law 2020, as amended.
* Secondly, the policy, he said, was aimed at curbing inflation, and corruption, and improving transparency in cash flow to all sectors of the Nigerian economy.
Ironically, while the issue of vote baying appeared to have been mitigated substantially, as seen during the February 25 Presidential Elections, the same can not be said on other promises.
Instead, the continued scarcity of both the old and new N1000, N500 and N200 notes, in addition to restricted access to online Banking facilities, Nigerians have been groaning under heavy economic burden.
Businesses, mostly Small and Medium Enterprises, have been affected as a result of the scarcity of cash. Many of them have closed down.
Inflation has increased exponentially, as the domestic needs of cash can not be met.Nigerians have seen turned to Dollar and the currency of neighboring countries as the way out.
Weighing into the crisis, the Supreme Court, on the request of some State Governors, granted the request to elongate the validity of the old N1000, N500, and N200, given the insufficient production of the new notes and the seaming meaninglessness of the policy.
In the judgement,  read by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court nullified the Federal Government’s naira redesign policy, saying it was an affront against the 1999 Constitution in the first place.
The court said the policy has led to some people engaging in trade by barter in this modern age in a bid to survive. The court added that the President’s disobedience of the February 8 order, is a sign of dictatorship.
The apex court held that President Buhari breached the Constitution of the Federation in the ways he issued directives for the re-designing of the Naira by the CBN.
The apex court finalized that the old N1000, N500, and N200 notes should be re-circulated and allowed as legal tender till December 2023.
Sixteen states of the Federation instituted the suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy.
Six days after the judgement however, neither the President not the CBN Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele, has spoken or issue directive for the implementation of the judgement.
Some banks, between Tuesday and Wednesday, acting on the logic discretion, began to pay customers with the old notes.
The action would be suspended when, in response to report that the CBN had ordered the banks to pay the old notes, was refuted by the apex bank!
This lacuna has further created confusion as banking services continue to collapse of remain inaccessible, making it difficult for Nigerians to either access their money or go about their economic wellbeing without hassles.
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