How CBN Cashless Policy Stagnated Nigerian Economy,Emefiele Runs From Pillar To Post

By Elizabeth Chukwumaand Lateef Adegbite

  More facts have emerged why the Nigerian economy appears to have come to a stand-still over the last one month. This is because of the cashless policy being pursued by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele, and the  apex bank refusal of the bank to order the Nigerian Security printing and Minting Company, NSPMC, the  sole  agency for printing the country  currency. To do so.

Emefiele: CBN Governor

  Described as a glorified government Cashier by Senator Ali Ndume,  Senate Committee Chairman on  the Army, and an enemy of the people by Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and Presidential Candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, the duo  have come up hard on the apex  bank.

The APC, Presidential Candidate, who many believe is the most hard hit by the policy,  was said to have asked the CBN Authorities  to allow  the old and new N200, N500, N1,000, Notes  to  co-exist as legal tender for the next 12 months, that cover the period of the 2023, general elections.

Tinubu, who could not hide his feelings  was said to have issued a Statement  where he  has made it clear  that he and his running mate, Kashim Shettima, a former governor of Borno state and their Campaign Council  ‘’do not have anything  against the naira  redesign  and cashless policy in principle’’.

 He noted that they are more concerned about’’ its disruptive implementation and hardship it has brought to the generality of the people who currently can’t access their hard earned money to meet obligations and the attendant consequences on the informal sector, where majority operates’’.

 There is no gain saying the fact that Emefiele , the CBN, governor and his Team, may have prepared the ground for the scarcity for the new naira Notes,  transactions  when it declared that ‘’the bank was committed  to the country’s cashless  economy vision’’, an era that  would make  cash less transactions.

The CBN, governor may have sent a message to Nigerians, in early 20222, that there  would be new naira Notes scarcity to pave the way for the cashless economy to succeed,  when he stated  that ‘’the needed  infrastructure  to ensure the smooth working  of the cashless system  such as  the CBDC Machine, online banking, Payment Systems Banks, PS,Point of Sales ,POS, terminals,agent banking,mobile banking ,and ATMs have deployed and operational in different parts of the country.

 This may have given  him the impression that 100 percent cashless economy is attainable in Nigeria.  He may have sold the dummy   to the Nigerian President that the Country must move from being a ‘’predominantly cash economy to a predominantly cashless economy’’ and he bought the idea, without thinking of the backlash effect.

He may have also won the heart of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and Chairman, National Economic Council, NEC, who was said to have declared that the drive for a cashless policy in the country would go a long way’’ to curb illicit election financing and vote buying in the country general elections’’.

 Many would want the Nigerian copy- cat CBN governor, to understand that the developed North American country of the United States, US, the European countries, and the United Kingdom, UK economies which he is trying to adopt, operate both the cash and cashless economy that had put the path of growth without stagnating over the years.

Painful as the cashless policy had been, the CBN, has collecting charges from customers for such services to add to their problem. The APC Flag bearer who is not happy  the collection of the service charges has asked  the apex bank  ‘’to suspend  all the charges  associated  with the online  transactions  and bank  transfers till the current  crisis is resolved’’  and allow  time  ‘’to scale  up infrastructural gaps  around alternative  payment options to cash’’.

, Tinubu: APC Flag Bearer For 2023, General Elections

    Indeed, the CBN, governor whom Financial analysts had said appears confused may have realised that there is trouble    ahead in the country that he has reassured Nigerians that the bank knows what it is doing and should. Never fail the country.

 He had said that’’ there are some vested interests at the state and Federal levels, including the Financial Institutions and the Organised Private sector, OPS,  who are attempting’’ to  manipulate facts  and pitch the public against the bank ‘’.

The Delta state born governor of the CBN, who  has the backing of the Katsina state born Nigerian President to redesign the  three big naira Notes and subsequently pursue  the  implementation of the naira swap policy,  had said that the bank would never been forestalled from carrying out  its mandate , as stipulated  in the CBN Act , 2007,  as amended, in performing  its monetary policy functions’’ to produce  the required quantity of naira Notes need in the country’’, had said that the apex bank and NSPMC, are equal to the task.  

nspmc Printed Bundle Of Naira Notes For CBN

 But there have been  reports making the rounds in financial circles that the NSPMC, that had been  engaged by the bank , to print the  new currency Notes  do not have the capacity and materials to print the new Notes, let alone meet  its  annual capacity of producing N400 million Notes, which translates to N1 trillion

  It was learnt that since the Nigerian President gave the CBN, the approval to redesign and print the new N200, N500, N1,0000, Notes, it has only succeeded in printing N300 million Notes but distributed N100 million to the banks, which was not enough to meet the demand of the trading public, Companies, particular, Small and Medium Scale Industries, let alone the 200 million Nigerians, living in the towns, cities and the remote areas, in different parts of the country.

The CBN, governor , may have known that Nigerians have been pushed to the wall  and can no longer endure the hardship caused by the biting cash crunch and fuel scarcity that that he has said that the NSPMC, which he has told the Katsina state born Nigerian  President  while seeking approval for the redesigning of the three big naira Notes, N200, N500, and N1000, in 2022,  that   it, has  the technical knowhow, equipment capacity  and manpower , to print the new currency Notes , would meet the naira Notes demand of Nigerians.

The CBN governor , who is now at the receiving end for throwing Nigeria into  currency Notes crisis had said that the scarcity of the new Notes was not due to lack of performance by the  Printing and Minting Company, stressing that ‘’ it has enough materials  to print the new naira Notes to meet the country’s demand.

He was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that the regulatory body will meet the country’s cash demands to win the heart of the people. Osita Nwanisobi, the bank’s Director of Corporate Communications who, had issued a Statement on Saturday, February 11, 2023, being the date set for the deadline by the bank for the old N200, N500, N100, to cease to be legal tender in Nigeria had reassured aggrieved Nigerians, that ‘’ the NSPMC was working round the clock on printing all the denominations of the naira Notes to meet the transaction needs of Nigerians’’.

 As a prelude to solving the problem in the interim, the bank was said to have also taken the bold initiative of moving the new currency Notes from places of less pressure in the different parts of the country to places of high pressure, which further bear eloquent testimony to the fact that Emefiele’s efforts to force the cashless policy down the throat of Nigerians has failed and needed to be repackaged to make it acceptable to the public as well as improve on the implementation process.  

The question on the lips of most people was : if Emefiele , the CBN, governor who had claimed that the NSPC, has the capacity and enough materials ‘ to print  the required indent  of the naira  Notes needed in the country, to ease the circulation  of the new currency Notes, what stops it from doing so.  This may have informed why people see the current challenge associated with the distribution of the new Notes in the country as sabotage orchestrated by the CBN and NSPMC, to frustrate the 2023 general elections.

Halilu: MD, NSPMC

Analysts believe that the alleged inability  of the NSPMC, to print the Nigerian currency as required  ma havey started when  Abbas Masanawa , the former Managing Director of the  Company  resigned his appointment  around May, 2022 and was replaced by  one Ahmed Halilu, who an International Advocacy Organisation, Gravitas Group,  Director of Communications, Prof. Olugbenga Ayeni and its Convener, Tola Adeniyi,  had reported  was a relation ofHajia Aisha Buhari, the First Lady, without a clear mandate.

Until his resignation, Mansanawa, the former Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of NSPMC, was said to have repositioned the Company in ways that are unprecedented to print and the country’s currency Notes without running into murky waters.

 Financial experts has expected Halilu,  the new NSPMC, CEO, to take the  printing and minting of the  new CBN Notes serious, giving its importance to the country but had  failed to do so .  He may have taken the project as one of those currency printing and minting jobs needed by the CBN that could be delivered at any time.

 The CBN insistence that the redesigning of new Notes, would control the currency in circulation, curb counterfeit currency, ransom payment to kidnappers and terrorists should have encouraged the NSPMC , officials to facilitate the project but failed to do so, and which had thrown the country into crisis.

Nigerians are watching to see how Halilu,  the NSPMC,  helmsman,  who has the mandates of the CBN, to print the new naira Notes  would handle the crisis situation in the country which appears to be getting worse on a daily basis with no solution in sight in spite of the fact that Buhari has asked Nigerians to give him one week to address the problem..

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