The primary purpose of government is the welfare and safety of the citizenry through provision of security, policies and programmes that would enhance their well being, and address their challenges in various ways. This is trite, not in this clime, it beggars repeating. At this time in Nigeria, one is bound to wonder what the rationale is, for introducing the new and redesigned naira; I mean at this critical time of our democratic journey, when elections are just by the corner. Could it be that there are persons who are poised to derail our democratic trajectory or certain persons are just interested in foisting on us, their poisoned chalice, to serve their own bulbous ego? Or they just want to upstage the applecart in a manner that will put the country in the harm’s way, and give a pretext to their plot for an interim government? All sorts come to mind.
In politics, there are bound to be several conspiracies, but the dimension of this present one has gotten to a sinister level. Capitalising on President Buhari’s taciturn approach to governance, those persons who are poised to hurt us all, are not leaving anything to chance.
So, part of their game plan is to see how they can financially strangulate the APC candidate, through the new naira design, and ensure that he’s cut down to size. They are plotting their plot, but God is the ultimate planner. The whole exercise has already boomeranged and The CBN, and the Villa cabal, have become poisoned chalice. The anger in the land has gotten to a precipice and the implosion that may follow could be dangerous.
Take a sample; call the name EMEFIELE, anywhere, and you may be lynched. That is what this policy has earned him. The anger and rage in the polity is rife and palpable. This INSTANT CASHLESS ECONOMY policy is brazen, insensitive and was bound to fail at sail. A policy that does not cater for the interest of all, and is driven with so much haste as if it was some sort of reverse engineering, is bound for failure. It has further discomforted a system that was largely dysfunctional.
In the game of power as a crazy aphrodisiac, the real intention of men is woven in depravity, dubiety, betrayal, plots and sub-plots, which are often self serving and never altruistic. Why Godwin Emefiele decided to buy into this dubious plot that hurts the soul of a nation in the throes of death, is what still confounds my mind. Even, if he were ingenuous, the timing of this “garbage” is wrong and serves no altruistic purpose. We cannot be preparing to go in for elections, and be contending with such a poorly conceptualized initiative.
Nigerians need to be of sound mind at this time, to be able to choose wisely; but this situation has triggered psychoses in many quarters which will adversely affect their voting exercise come February 25. Things never seen before are now happening in public places. The whole idea was to generate crises situation, that would yield to the possibility of truncating the trajectory of our democratic flow, and allow for a particular desired end. Deadlines upon deadlines, extension competing with extension, in a country that is currently retarded with poor economic prognosis and rendition. Rather than serve the purpose of the entire citizenry, it is serving the interest of only the super rich and political gladiators; who are desperately using all covert means to sail.
One of the conspiracies is to create crises that would then create grounds for an “arrangee” type of coup, to terminate the present process and jump-start a new one in the typical military tradition of declaring “Emergency Rule”. That way, all known democratic institutions would be dismantled and a new process that would bar the present players would spring up.
Another conspiracy is that all this is to work for the interest of the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, to score a point in their nepotistic garb. They know that Atiku Abubakar’s aspiration would hurt the soul of the nation; but his victory would please those power apparachiks in the Villa who are not comfortable with The Tinubu candidature or the shift of power to the South. In furthering this dubious plot, some of the plotters came up with the idea that a currency redesign would be an assured way to cut Tinubu down to size. These people are deliberately blind to the pains the generality of people are made to go through. All they care about is ensuring that they extract a pound of flesh from the Tinubu candidacy. They are not ready to listen to reason; only the voice that furthers their interest and dubious plot.
When it was expected that Godwin Emefiele would act as a thorough-bred professional and economist, in handling such a sensitive issue as currency redesign, he failed to rise to the occasion. For allowing himself to be accused of profligacy and heist, he has now become a mere pawn in the political chessboard of those who want to harm the ambition of Asiwaju Tinubu. He now appears like a leader of a gang of sinuous fawns who are ready to scandalise anyone to get their plot through.
I would have expected him to be more conscious of his name and place in the annals of history. I hope he knows that Nigeria’s history has a way of turning 360 degree at some point; so, whatever he does for today, he should have the future in mind.
Far away from the real intention of this policy, it has also become a serious disinvestment index and killer of savings. Rather than re-ignite our economy by making more money available in banks, a lot of people will now resort to saving their monies at home or any other place they feel is secure. It has been frustrating for Nigerians to access their legitimate savings in the name of the scarcity of new naira notes. How is a person now encouraged to take their earnings to the bank for safe keeping; especially one in a rural area?
The beauty of a policy should be in its ability to solve a lot of problems, while not create new ones. Policies should give a clear picture of what its desired end should be. It should also look at the risks and their factors. It should be utility-driven and therapeutic enough to provide answers to nagging questions.
The way the CBN has been speaking about “no-further-extension” beyond February 10, is indicative of a plot that is laden in the bowel of time. They should not set such a definitive time to close shop on Nigerians and their legitimate earnings and savings. A currency swap shouldn’t just happen in one fell swoop; It should be a process; whereby both new and old notes serve as legal tender contemporaneously, until such a time when the requisite soft and hard infrastructure are in place, then the apex bank will terminate the use of the old notes. It should be done in a seamless fashion. This desperation we are witnessing is surely not a function of economics but of politics. I hope The CBN knows that we all know. I wish they did their part to save this democracy from implosion. The CBN shouldn’t be or seen to be partisan, sectorial, biased and parochial. The individuals in that institution must bury their own selfish interests and leaning and let the national interest take pre-eminence.
The setbacks of a cashless policy in an economy that lacks the necessary and needed basic technological infrastructure will be too telling on the people and thus the economy as we are already witnessing.
Without a doubt, those who operate POSs in the rural areas are being dumped in the refuse bin; shorlty after the promise of empowerment to them was fulfilled. That alone will raise the unemployment rate considerably. The withdrawal limit is another poisoned chalice that is being forced down our throats. In an economy that is predominantly subsistent and rural, it will be difficult to just jump-start such a policy without catering to its immediate and remote effects. There is poor power supply in most parts of the country, internet connectivity is abysmally low and the effectiveness of Internet banking is ridiculous. It is like cutting off the rural population from the system. Have the people in the rural areas commited any felony? We are all Nigerians and should be cojoined in the provisions of the government.
Our policies seem to aim to achieve certain pre-determined ends that may after all not be altruistic and holistic. The haste and devil-may-care attitude explains away the point, that this policy has an ulterior motive woven into it. A developing economy of Nigeria’s sort if upright, must consciously and deliberately pursue policies and programmes that will not hurt an already fragile system, but help to solidify the gains that exist and bear more.
This less than satisfactory attitude of the CBN Governor at a time when he should deploy moral suasion and persuasion, backed with deliberate actions to nip the crises in the bud, make more money available to the banks, grant an extension of one year, and put in place concrete measures to allow the new system operate seamlessly, is not good enough.
If Asiwaju Tinubu is the target of this dubious plot and sub-plot, on the contrary, it has earned him some more mileage in his presidential aspiration. If it is meant to slow him down, it has boosted his support base; because a lot of people are now seeing the fiendish plot against him. If the policy is to slow Asiwaju Tinubu down, it puts him on a roller coaster ride along a track that would attract sympathy votes from the undecided voters. They know that Asiwaju Tinubu deserves the same measure of support that produced the outgoing government, and trying to hurt him because there is fear concerning his personality type and charisma, will at the least, amount to ingratitude of an immeasurable proportion. Tinubu’s landslide victory in the primaries is testament to his political standing. Those who are behaving like bad losers and trying to put spanners in the works should retrace their steps as a new dawn is birthed in Nigeria; whether they like it or yes. A new dawn of power shift to the Southern part of Nigeria as unequivocally driven by the Northern APC Governors and their Southern counterparts, is urgently required to balance the power algorithms.
Politics of inclusion and participation as espoused by the APC Northern governors will serve the interest of the entire country better, in our deliberate effort to building a stable polity.
Atiku Abubakar and the PDP must take into account, Nigeria’s delicate and fragile structures that may give way easily under undue pressure. We need nationalists and persons who understand the complexities of the country and are ready to bury their selfish individual aspiration, to drive a national aspiration for the good of all.
It is the turn of the South after eight years of President Buhari. To attempt to derail that trajectory could be an invitation to chaos and avoidable protestations across the land.
•Prince Kassim Afegbua is a former Commissioner for Information, Edo State. He is a regular contributor to The Frontier.
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