The protracted acute cash scarcity has not only crippled economic activities in the country, it is now a major risk to the livelihoods of most Nigerians. Millions of citizens have slipped into penury and destitution as a result of the disruptions and tribulations perpetrated by the currency redesign policy, especially the mopping up of over 70% of cash in the economy. Nigerians have not been this traumatized in recent history.
The economy is gradually grinding to a halt because of the collapse of payment systems across all platforms. Digital platforms are performing sub-optimally because of congestion; physical cash is unavailable because the CBN has sucked away over 70% of cash in the economy; and the expected relief from the supreme court judgement has not materialized. The citizens are consequently left in a quandary.
The banks claimed that the CBN has not officially communicated the supreme court judgement to them for any actions; the President has maintained a worrying muteness on the judgement; the market women and men are waiting to hear from the President Buhari or the CBN governor on the legal tender status of old currency notes. Curiously, there is an apparent reluctance or unwillingness by the federal government and the CBN to comply with the supreme court judgement. This is very disturbing and inexplicable.
Meanwhile, Nigerians continue to groan in the adversity inflicted by the acute cash shortage amid rejection of old currency notes by market operators, refusal by banks to accept the old notes, silence by the presidency on the supreme court judgement; and absence of official pronouncement by the CBN on the issue.
Retail transactions across sectors have become nerve-wracking and distressing as payment system challenges persist. Since the onset of the cash crisis, the Nigerian economy has lost an estimated N20 trillion. These losses arose from the deceleration of economic activities, the crippling of trading activities, the stifling of the informal economy, contraction in the agricultural sector and the paralysis of the rural economy. There are also corresponding job losses in hundreds of thousands.
Evidently, President Buhari did not seem to appreciate the gravity and enormity of the suffering and pain that Nigerians have been experiencing since the onset of the currency redesign policy. We again plead with the President to immediately intervene to put an end to the devastating and traumatic outcomes of a repressive, poorly conceptualized and badly implemented currency redesign policy. We request the following immediate actions.
- The CBN should be directed to immediately inform the Nigerian public that the old currency notes [alongside the new notes] remain legal tender until the 31st December 2023, in line with the supreme court judgement.
- The CBN should be directed to officially communicate the outcome of the Supreme court judgement to the banks and affirm compliance with the judgement.
- The president should publicly empathize with Nigerians on the unwarranted and inexcusable pain and suffering that the currency redesign policy has wreaked on them.
DR MUDA YUSUF
CENTRE FOR THE PROMOTION OF PRIVATE ENTERPRISE [CPPE]