Swapping Of Old Bank Notes: The Real Enemies Within

Coker Onita

I must quickly confess that l felt thoroughly scandalised last week when l saw a video clip showing a woman half-nude in a banking hall and shouting: “Give me my money, my child didn’t go to school yesterday! I will not leave here, except l collect my money!”

Side-by-side with this clip was the video of a man who yanked off his top dress, ready to lie down on the payment counter of another commercial bank. As if those were not enough, another video clip of a man completely naked was shown. This bank customer was crying, so much so that l became emotional myself, wondering why we should be doing this to ourselves as Nigerians. Why inflict so much pain and agony for no justifiable reason?

Why should changing our bank notes create this highly embarrassing situation? Why are we unable to do things without inflicting much pain? Recall the time we collected our National Identify Cards, it was hell. Ditto happened during the ongoing collection of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC). I soliloquised: Why are we like this?

Some few hours after the sordid show of shame, we saw the windowpanes of a commercial bank completely vandalised by frustrated customers. Some ATM devices were also vandalized and severely damaged. What all this suggests is that the entire nation might explode in a fresh round of mayhem. Students of the University of Ibadan have picked up the gauntlet. But for the quick intervention of the security agencies, another round of demonstrations might have begun.

Is another “ENDSARS” conundrum in the offing?

God forbid!

Who needs that at this crucial point when all hands should be on deck,  preparing for a peaceful and credible national election?

Even then, this situation is serious, more serious than the way our national government has taken it. It’s as if the government decided to increase the level of hardship of most Nigerians. How else do we describe this ugly but seemingly emerging national disaster?

Nigerians are demanding money legitimately saved in various commercial banks as stipulated by law.

Can we, in the name of changing our naira notes to new ones, create that level of disharmony and confusion in the economy? Nigerians have not gone there to ask for loan or any favour but for their hard-earned money. The embarrassing situation, put mildly, is not only ridiculous, it is extremely reprehensible.

Now that money has become  scarcer,  Nigerians have no alternative than go look elsewhere for succour. They now approach Point of Sale  (POS) centres to get money at ridiculous rates. If you want N10,000, for example, you pay a commission of N3,000. What that means is if you need N10,000, you pay N13,000!!

For several days last week, l hardly could raise cash for my immediate domestic consumptions, which included purchase of fuel for the home, vehicles and other sundry needs.  The local garri or pepper sellers want their money in cash. When you get to the filling station, it becomes a different kettle of fish. It’s been hell getting fuel in the last several weeks. Apart from going through long excruciating queues, you are then confronted with payment mode. The stations want cash, no old naira notes are acceptable. They even reject payment with ATM cards because of poor network. The situation becomes more harrowing and debilitating when you realise that you can stay on fuel queues for hours without end.

So, what do we have going for ordinary Nigerians? Which way Nigera?  No money, no fuel, no roads, no food, no security, no decent housing, no shelter. Believe me, we are dying slowly.

Our condition of living is fast deteriorating and has now reached its lowest ebb. The challenges, truly, are legion!

So how do we move away from this quagmire, as the nation drifts apart, approaching a cliff edge?

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor will do well to solve this self-inflicted problem. If not, he should bow out gracefully before the nation burns into ashes as a result of his  professional incompetence, ineptitude, conspiracy and unbridled corruption in the apex bank. Some commercial banks have been caught hoarding new notes. Such banks should be heavily penalized for collusion and dereliction of duty.

Luckily for Nigerians, another round of national elections is here. Let’s vote them out –these characters making life impossible for ordinary Nigerians who are struggling to make a decent and honest living.

My take? Let’s vote the tried and trustworthy Waziri Atiku Abubakar and Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa to salvage our future and those of generations yet unborn. With the duo, the future is assured and certain. God bless Nigeria.



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