By Victor Ayoo
Much as the anticipated gains of naira redesign may have started manifesting, the inaccessibility of most Nigerians to the new 1000 and 500 denominations have visited untold hardship on them such that the well thought out policy is becoming almost meaningless to them due largely to the poor implementation of the noble policy by the manager of the national economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The CBN whose duty is the formation and execution of such a monetary policy has the constitutional responsibility of ensuring that the national currency is made available to the commercial banks who are in turn to ensure that depositors have access to their deposits whenever they so desire at designated banks inside the banking halls, at the Automated Teller Machines terminals, at accredited agents using the Point of Sale (POS) machines and the financial technology (Fin Tech operators).
Weeks after the injection of the new currency notes into the national economy, Nigerians have lost the right to adequate rest time even at night as many are seen rushing to join long queues towards gaining access into banking halls and ATM terminals where for most times they cannot make more than Ten Thousand naira per day withdrawals even across the counter.
In most cases, it is always an endless wait in vain as the bank vaults are without enough cash to reach their teeming customers despite repeated assurances by the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, that enough of the redesigned denominations of the naira had been printed by the Nigerian Security Minting and Printing Company.
The long queues have continued to compound the woes of customers who are daily faced with the grim reality of either meeting empty banks or withdrawing highly restricted amounts of the new notes, if and when available. Many of those who gain entry into the banking halls are often faced with the choice of making do with meagre withdrawals across counter of dirty and tattered fifty naira notes.
The continued difficulty in accessing the new notes has exposed the ill preparedness of the Central Bank of Nigeria in full implementation of a major policy that it had convinced the federal government in accepting as being in the best interest of the national economy. This has further exposed the incapability of the Nigerian Security Minting and Printing Company in handling a job of this magnitude within such a short period.
Good reasoning and careful planning could have entailed the Central Bank of Nigeria to print least seventy per cent of the anticipated figure to be mopped up from circulation before issuance of the new notes. It is believed that this could have gone a long way towards dousing the unnecessary tension that has been generated across the country, especially now that Nigerians are in the electioneering era.
While acknowledging that the policy has succeeded in causing many who had hoarded the old currency to bring out the cash back into circulation, it is equally true that much of this cash would go to waste because of the inability of most citizens to convert it to the new notes due to time constraint.
Another gain of the monetary policy is the reduction in cases of kidnapping for ransom, banditry and similar crimes.
However, government should have reasoned that there was a prevailing fuel scarcity following closely on the heels of the difficulty in accessing the permanent voters’ cards for the 2023 general elections that are already ongoing and put a hold on the implementation of the policy in order not to increase the massive dislocation that it has already caused in the national economy.