Since the beginning of the year, every day for Nigerians has not been the day the lord made. We have been fuelled purely by chaos.
One of the problems started on October 26, 2022, when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin “Meffy” Emefiele, announced plans to redesign the ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1000 notes. A month later, the new banknotes were unveiled. Although some people predicted that it might be difficult for Nigerians to adjust to this change, no one could have foreseen the level of discomfort Meffy’s Naira makeover has caused.
What has happened?
Nigerians have been dealing with Naira scarcity while racing against CBN deadlines of January 31, 2023, subsequently extended to February 10, 2023.
Despite this, Nigerians have had to take the labours of Hercules to get their hands on the new notes.
Due to the tensions the Naira has created, some states, Kogi, Zamfara, and Kaduna, sued the Federal government at the Supreme Court over the current scarcity of banknotes.
The Supreme Court has adjourned till February 22, 2023.
After many complaints, on February 16, 2023, President Bubu tried to channel his inner Superman by approving the use of old ₦200 notes till April 10, 2023. But this has proven to be hardly helpful as statistics show that the old ₦200 notes make up only 9.19 per cent of the currency volume in the last seven years.
Meffy’s reason for the Naira redesign was to fight corruption and inflation, but so far, it seems like Nigerians have had to pay a high price for this. Let’s look at some things the Naira scarcity has cost Nigerians.
Since the Naira scarcity problem started, many traders have had to bear losses, especially those who sell perishable goods because they haven’t had enough customers.
Some traders don’t have bank accounts, and others who do and accept transfers have faced network challenges. This situation has forced many of them to slash the prices of their goods, though they might be incurring losses. Some herders complained that a big cow that’d usually be sold for around ₦400k now goes for ₦270k.
On February 17, 2023, a 32-year-old woman, who was nine months pregnant, died in a specialist hospital in Kano because her husband didn’t have the new naira notes to pay the hospital on time.
The woman was in labour by the time they arrived at the hospital, and her husband tried to pay the requested ₦8,528 with the old notes but it was rejected. The hospital had no POS machine, and they asked the man to transfer the money instead, which he did. But the cashier had to wait to confirm payment. The medical personnel also refused to proceed with the treatment until the evidence of payment was brought.
The payment wasn’t confirmed until after three hours. The hospital requested an additional fee of ₦4000 for blood service, and the payment also had to be confirmed. This time, the man pleaded with them to proceed with the treatment, and they finally rushed her to the labour room around 1 a.m.. Unfortunately, his wife and child didn’t make it.
Their means of transportation
Many commuters have had to trek or face embarrassment from bus conductors who have refused to collect old notes. It’s 2023, and our train stations still only accept cash as a payment medium. It’s almost like if you can’t pull a miracle to get cash in hand, then the best thing for you would be to stay home or exercise your leg muscles and walk.
No one knows when or if the current wave of suffering in the country will end anytime soon. All we can do is hope that the new administration coming in after the upcoming elections will make our lives easier than it is currently.