Like a classical movie, Nigeria’s economy is in uncontrollable suspense and boosting economic risks, just as hazards are occupying Nigeria’s political space. The CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele has taken the role of the lead protagonist of redeeming some old naira notes from abuse to fix new versions to coexist with lingering fuel scarcity. But there are a few and poor actions to drive the scenes toward a meaningful end.
Naira scarcity hitting Nigerians hard and generating insurmountable tension in the country carries the core theme across the country. But the apostles of the new policy are bent on retaining the status quo no matter the toll it might take on the land. The propelling notion for this obnoxious decision is its towering potency to cleanse the politics of Augean stables and install a cashless economy. Nevertheless, this point is vehemently discredited by want of time and want of new naira notes.
The establishment may not feel the horrors of the cash crunch, but the victims are sadly traumatised by the invisible forces of scarcity. It may not be the motive of the new naira currency redesigning that many small and medium-sized economies are crumbling. If Emefiele cannot tolerate old naira notes, the masses cannot condone the new naira shortage, turning them into semi-beggars and their living miserable. It requires the Governor to bridge this ugly gap with a conducive atmosphere so that the common man will not see his economic reform as an enemy. A revolution is always supported by mass followers and not mass revolt. Whereas Emefiele’s revolution is executed from the comfort of his office, commercial banks are now like homes to Nigerians where they have to spend the night for just a meagre N20,000.
The greatest loophole of this currency innovation is its high insensitivity to the deep pains Nigerians are absorbing. Nigerians are groaning in despair and wallowing in a new class of poverty. With all the untold hardships Nigerians are undergoing, it will be devastating to the heart of this naira palaver does more harm than good to the economy eventually. A policy that splits the ruling class into a cold war and leaves in its wake arson and deaths needs a prompt revisitation to align with the needs of members of mainstream society.
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Emefiele is not a student of drama school but is a genius in dramatic displays. Whenever he meets with the president in a closed-door meeting on the state of the naira crisis, he shuns the media and will not share with us what has transpired between them, the fact that Nigerians are eager to hear good tidings from him. He willingly shirks the boldness and fairness to reveal to us how new currencies will be available. In a trending confusion to keep hope with the naira, he wants to become a hero of his own making by keeping to himself and his oga in the villa. By influencing emerging suspense, he is enhancing his self-esteem to the detriment of collective concerns.
But he knows that banks are persistently starved of funds and one cannot understand and identify the missing link. Nationwide pandemonium is imposed through Emefiele’s scarcity of information. Adequate communication from him would have assuaged our toils to the barest minimum. It is no less than a drama scenario. Frank Capra thought that drama was when actors cried. But drama is actually when the audience cries. The Emefieles are the actors and it is the audience, the bearers of naira crunch who are hopelessly yelling.
Ideas may die young but not always. Policies may prevail but not consistently. Naira design is not a dream for all but for Buhari, a game for Emiefiele and temporary suffering for the masses. Emiefiele is singing the song of the naira, commercial banks are playing the game of naira crunch and the masses are lifting the burden of naira scarcity. That is what the average Nigerian can construe and paraphrase from the spontaneous riots in some parts of the country.
Fundamentally, leaders in particular cannot walk across a space without engaging in one step of risk or the other. The system of government itself is a great risk platform because without exploring risks, we may not make progress. Leadership is by and large risk friendly. I don’t think there is any leader that is worth dying for, but there are styles of leadership worth taking risks for. If Emefiele’s leadership fashion is worth taking a risk, it should not be at the expense of risking lives and properties, happiness and peace. If Emefiele deems it highly philosophical that we must grow with new currencies, then it is also necessary that we must be supplied with adequate new naira notes.
There are different exits and entrances for Emefiele in addressing the naira scarcity epidemic. On entrance, his body language speaks jargons. While on exit, the scarcity persists. Even the violence in some parts of the country is not the kind of dialogue that Emefiele will engage in with our bitter complaints. His newly explored faith is simply having a cashless society and how the naira shortage can be a panacea to vote-buying. The arbitrariness of its pursuance is what is troubling the masses. The process lacks a proactive mechanism and is searching for victims, not necessarily from the political class but from the downtrodden. Until the reality is recognised and adjusted, the only casualties may be the masses and not the targeted politicians.
Redefining his naira policy by logic and expediency should be deployed to ease the escalating uncertainty in the country. It ought to be done in such a manner that the end justifies the means. Naira redesigning possesses two variables, the variable of negative value and that of positive value. The positive value is for the government to actualise the overall aim of the exercise without rendering it a casualty of itself. The negative value is mainly concerned with the domain of the bulk of the nation. Will the decision be in their favour as in the long-term projection?
The first lesson of the Emefiele naira reconstruction risk was to disregard the first lesson of scarcity and how it breeds casualties. His overzealousness to kill the old notes created scarcity which could not be managed meaningfully. The masses are now casualties who view currency shortage as an unnecessary evil. The deficit of this idea of new currency is its insolvency to unite the elements of urgency and needs requirement. Emefiele should make all the necessary sacrifices to ensure that the present pains will turn into the joy of tomorrow.
Emefiele’s naira revolution may be necessary, but its constricted time frame and scarcity are the challenges that he should address to ensure a safe landing for both the economy and Nigerians.
Abdu Abdullahi wrote via [email protected]
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