Home EDITORIAL Redeeming Nigerians from lingering hardship

Redeeming Nigerians from lingering hardship

by News Echo


Very painfully and as unprecedented as it seem; a few weeks to the 2023 general elections that is preceding the eventual exit of Muhammadu Buhari from office as the nation’s President, precisely on May 29, have brought severe hardship and trauma to Nigerians. And, worrisomely, this provoking condition is occasioned on fuel and cash scarcity.

The cash palaver which was ignited by the recent naira swap policy introduced by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which sought to replace the N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes with redesigned ones ahead of the February 25 and March 11 elections, while the months-long fuel scarcity has been blamed on cross-border smuggling.

Though, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has promised holders of the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes that in line with the provision of Section 20(3) of the CBN Act, they would still have the opportunity to redeem the face value of their cash only at central bank offices nationwide after the February 10, 2023 deadline, when the currencies would have lost its legal tender status.

He has also assured that Nigerians would not lose their legitimately earned money due to the naira redesign project, insisting the exercise was in the overall interest of Nigerians and the economy.

Emefiele has always maintained that the value of old naira notes of N200, N500 and N1000 would still be redeemed even after they have ceased to be legal tender after the February 10 deadline, at the CBN.

He said the redemption was in tandem with the law, precisely section 20 (3) of CBN act, noting the essence was to mop up the old notes in circulation.

While reeling out the steps taken by the central bank to ensure the effective distribution of the new banknotes, he disclosed that about N1.9 trillion of the old banknotes had so far been collected since the commencement of the exercise.

According to him, the currency redesign policy has so far recorded about a 75 per cent success rate given the fact that many of those in the rural and underserved locations across the 36 states of the country have had the opportunity of swapping their old banknotes for the new series of the banknotes.

He noted that one of the reasons for the naira redesign was to bring in the N2.7 trillion outside the banking system which is currently being held in people’s homes. Besides, the general practice across the globe and that practice is that every five to eight years, the CBN is supposed to redesign or do some form of changes do its currency.

On the month-long fuel scarcity, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mele Kyari, has explained that the logistics challenge has been responsible for the protracted fuel scarcity across the country.

The NNPCL boss also said the scarcity began with a glitch in road failure resulting from the floods that swept 31 states of the country last year.

He added that a three-day glitch in the transport of fuel would usually take three weeks to resolve.

He further explained that there were other challenges such as arbitrage, and the unplanned changes of having to transport Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), by small vessels to the depots, noting that the cost of hiring the vessels had gone up from $21 dollars in January 2022, to $80.
Kyari also stated that managing trucks and depots across the country posed a secondary challenge to the distribution of fuel across the country.

“Of course, we also have a secondary issue which is managing the trucks and depots, for instance, every depot buys maintenance tools overseas, which would require foreign exchange. Prices also changed without any recourse to our local situation.
We therefore advise the federal government of Nigeria to take proactive steps to clear this daunting scarcity of essential commodities; fuel and cash which are occasioning this severe hardships on Nigerians in a bid to ameliorate the harsh conditions of the suffering masses.

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