Sunday, February 25, 2024

A review of the Naira doom

BY ABDU ABDULLAHI

When Godwin Emefiele and his supreme oga planned for the currency coup against old naira notes, it was not seemingly a painstaking operation to yield the desired results. It was a union of a two-man affair without even co-opting the finance minister and other relevant stakeholders for that matter.

It is preferably called the naira doom because the architects of the naira reform failed to hit the nail on its head. What transpired later was the total collapse of a gigantic project that was largely individualistic and not organic. Eventually, it had not been a desirable outing for the new naira as we were reverted to the old order.

When the prime movers came, they only saw, but unfortunately they could not move and conquer the mystery of the oldness to give us a beautiful outcome. Consequently, it will take time before the nation bounces back from the dark clouds that refused to rain the economic and political endowments we were enticed with.

Incidentally, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele and President Muhammadu Buhari have finally drawn the curtain of their show of tragedy which they named naira transformation.

The ugly face of the new naira redesigning will remain perpetual in our bad memories. It had been a period of bleeding and infliction of deep injuries on Nigerians. Tears, sorrows, pains, psychological torturing of Nigerians were ubiquitous and Emefiele could not deny that only he was not a victim. Instead of redesigning the naira towards an achievable vision, Nigerians were tormented to pass through the naira house of horrors in which case, the end did not justify the means. Our untold hardships were finally in vain. To our greatest disappointment, naira redesigning did not come with a human and compassionate face and lacked status of kindness and piety.

To supply the new notes, there were more inactions than real actions. There were adequate danger zones but inadequate safety spots. There were poor deployments of effective strategies and their accurate implementation to save Nigerians untold hardships and embarrassment. Poor Nigerians! They were on the brink of a precipice and the wind of overall disenchantment was blowing across the country. The only solution to that overwhelming chaos was not pleading with Nigerians to be patient, but injecting abundant new notes into the economy. But the latter was never to be.

“Instead of redesigning the naira towards an achievable vision, Nigerians were tormented to pass through the naira house of horrors in which case, the end did not justify the means. Our untold hardships were finally in vain. To our greatest disappointment, naira redesigning did not come with a human and compassionate face and lacked status of kindness and piety”

For Emefiele, the only way to appease our minds was that new naira notes would be available to ameliorate the people’s suffering. Ironically, the more he pledged abundant naira notes, the more they became scarce. But to the people’s dismay, naira was not only plentiful during the elections but was also presented to challenge Buhari’s incapacity to prevent vote buying. The logic was that Buhari and Emefiele built up their policy on their parochial wishes, while the overall wishes of Nigerians were disregarded in absolute terms. That is why many Nigerians in their reactions will express their preference of the Covid 19 lockdown to the naira turmoil.

Just as the obnoxious policy has devastated and consumed many Nigerians, so also it has desecrated Emefiele’s image. The new naira lord has insulted his integrity by abusing our collective intelligence. His actions did not tally with the best interest of Nigerians who saw him as a messenger of doom while trying to make himself a hero only to the president. And owing to Emefiele’s feeling of superiority and disregarding the woeful plights of the masses, the ghost of the naira redesigning continued to hunt Nigerians who had no alternative to Emefiele’s governing inconveniences and discrepancies. His tragic compromise was to compel Buhari to make a political smile and make Nigerians wear a sad economic look.

By the time Godwin Emefiele abruptly introduced the concept of naira redesigning, it came with two primary prophecies; installing a cashless society and curbing vote buying in the last election. He got the abundant blessings of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was championing for a new economic reform and credible elections in which money could not be a determining factor. But alas, both were false prophecies and it became clear afterwards that the governor had converted himself into the prophet of naira doom.

Though a laudable concept, cashless policy was introduced at a time when most parts of the country were distorted by want of services for effective money transfer. It was a nightmare that the policy mischievously decreed cash withdrawal limits of meagre amounts as if account holders were beggars. It was also a great tragedy that despite the innovation of cash crunch to curtail vote buying, commercial politicians had a field day bargaining for votes on election days. This was another victory for corruption and the conquest of new naira philosophy.

Both Buhari and Emefiele showed us their inordinate desires to liberate Nigeria of some old and despicable naira notes. But they ended up writing the script of a national tragedy. Indeed, it was a national catastrophe as an estimated N20 trillion was lost from the economy. Small economies collapsed in large numbers. While in some cases there were deaths directly attributed to naira scarcity.

It was a national disaster that after the untold hardships, the irreparable social, psychological and economic loss, the Messiahs of the naira had to resort to the old order. Old notes will remain legal tender until December, 2023. What is greatly amusing is that the new notes are gradually being phased out of circulation. The old notes that were hitherto despised and condemned to oblivion are now occupying the space of the economy. Is there anybody that will be pleased to hear this tale of doom?

Any administration that wants to kill old naira notes and raise new ones must learn the horrible lessons of the Emefiele’s ill-fated Emefieleism. Indeed, Emefiele has not landed safely. There are many questions that he cannot answer. However, his continued silence has already crucified
him.

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